Perfect yoga body
I’m regularly aware of the possibility that the yoga practice could become yet another fascist reinforcing method for perfection with disregard for the natural beauty of that which is.
Our practice could teach us to love and accept ourselves, but often we accidentally fall into a practice on and off the mat that beats and whips our fat, ugly, stiff, not-good-enough bodies into the model shape we need to be of value to ourselves and to society.
I did a yoga photo shoot last week and it brought up so much emotion, conflict and thought for me on this topic.
26-year-old, 8.4 stone, healthy, athletic, beautiful young woman. And the night before the shoot I nearly cancelled in fear that I was not thin, worthy, able, good, beautiful, or skilled enough to do it. Without the support of my partner Gabriel and my own compulsion to face anything that scares me, I would not have managed to keep it together and show up.
That night, my mind threw up a whole catalogue of fears:
What do I wear, I’m not fashionable enough, which posture should I do, I’m not strong enough, I’m not flexible enough, how should I do my hair, should I shave my wild underarms, should I eat breakfast, will I be perfect enough, will Yoga GPS like it, use it, why am I even a part of this, they’ve asked the wrong person, I’m an impostor?
All these fears boiled down to = my lack of self-value.
My own inner critic that is not yet fully integrated as an ally is still the destroyer in my life. This is a deep, old inner story “that I am not enough, that I am not welcome, that I am lacking”. This is a personal story and it is a wide cultural disease. We are sold this global story constantly so as to create the need for consumption. It is the most damaging limb of the modern mind. And it is a bugger to re-write. Our yoga practice should provide a nurturing space to help us re-write this, not reinforce it. But when we are surrounded by hot, sexy yoga and constant images of the perfect photo-shopped yoga posture, how can we not bully ourselves to be something better?
I long for a yoga idol that is as integrally-flawed as we all are. Someone who is bare and courageous enough to own their imperfections as a mark of wholeness and union. I hope if one appears, I can accept them as wonderful and not reject their authenticity as failure. I hope that I can be this for myself and for all my relations too. And I intend to create a practice for myself and for those students of yoga who come to me that is about whole acceptance and integration of the self.
My baby step towards this aim is that this week, in all my classes and my own self practices, I am going to bring awareness to the pleasure of being in a human body, and the bliss of movement and breath. The simple joy of exploring different physical shapes and a huge serving of gratitude for the beautiful gift of the body I have and that every human has.
Copyright © Alex Hanly 2007-2015