Guest Post by Carly Stong, Retreat Facilitator
How many conversations have you heard (or had) where someone discussed a “problem” with their body — that it didn’t look right, move right, fit into something right, etc.? This is a fairly common conversation that I have heard, and is certainly one that can also show up in yoga.
So, I just want to say this: no one’s body is a problem — not for yoga pants, not for yoga poses, not for anything. Will some people’s bodies need to move in different ways than what may have been traditionally taught for yoga poses? Of course. But rather than making that about the person’s body needing to change or being a problem, I believe we can reclaim the many empowering ways to experience a yoga pose.
If someone is presented with a variation of a yoga pose that is not accessible because of the shape of their body – for example, in a common expression of Child’s Pose (Balasana) someone with a round belly may not feel comfortable unless s/he brings their thighs wide to make room – the problem isn’t their body. The problem is the expression. The body is informing this person of a need to adjust and be freed by their personal expression of this pose. We are each our own best teacher. The answers are all there in the sensations of our own body. What could be liberated if we each gave ourselves permission to explore and discover how each pose translates in our unique bodies?
Bodies aren’t problems. Bodies are miraculous vehicles with which we experience the world.
Yoga is a place where we can learn to do and be better – if we so choose. Where we can cultivate authenticity, honour vulnerabilities, foster connection, and nurture devotion, as we lovingly and thoughtfully claim our bodies and our practice experiences. What do we need to release to do so? When we open ourselves up to being vulnerable in this way, we open up to new possibilities, people and ideas. When we make the space for possibility, exploration and adaptability within ourselves, we also make space for others to do the same.
What would it be like to sit or move with the idea that your body is the teacher and you are the student, as you endeavour to learn things about yourself that no one else could teach you?
Become like an explorer in a new land searching with an open mind, free of expectations, curious and excited by everything you notice. Jot down in a notebook or on a piece of paper the images, sensations, insights, feelings, and messages you receive from your body. For today, focus just on the breath. Describe your breath. Are you breathing deeply? Shallowly? Where do you feel your breath? Do you notice it mostly through your nostrils? Is it in your chest? Anywhere else? What emotion is your breath expressing? What else does your breath have to teach you?