“Believe me when I say that using your personal body issues as an excuse to avoid yoga is a very serious disservice to your well-being”.
After having a slightly over dramatic moment on my favourite Facebook group page (“waaaah! I don’t know what to dooooo!”) It was suggested that I try yin yoga. Other suggestions were made by others by seeing as this particular member helped me find the best ever osteopath, her word is pretty well up there.
Yoga has always been avoided by me, on account of me being either too one thing, or not enough of another thing. So I wasn’t white enough, thin enough, rich enough or flexible enough. At the same time I was too fat, too brown (completing ignoring where yoga originated! Irrational thoughts are not rational), too sweaty and too easily distracted. So going to yoga was a bit of a leap for me.
She assured me that it wasn’t regular yoga. This was about slow poses being held for longer periods with a focus on relaxation and deep stretching. And given that this body gets worked hard week in week out and never does stretches, because stretches are for other people, the idea of enforced stretching seemed like just the treat this body needed.
On the drive there all of those familiar thoughts came flooding in. I was going to be too late, I am too round, too hungry, too busy. I’m not good enough or posh enough.
Why does this stuff get so much in the way?
How easy it is to talk myself out of things. Actually, that’s not quite right, I rarely talk myself out of things. I think things are a great idea and just do them…much to the amusement, oh wait, irritation, of others STOP EMBRACING THINGS!! , my co-worker often implores me as I excitedly share my latest scheme. So, I talk myself into things and then plague myself with doubts. Would it be easier to just not do stuff? Probably.
All that time having to listen to my thoughts. I think that’s why I like that balls to the wall stuff, I can’t hear my thoughts, Only the rush of blood to the head. I have no fear and no doubt when I’m working at the top of my range. I’m simple actions, repeated. One more, Dig deep. Sentences that are no more than two words at a time. Yoga has none of that, It leaves me by myself. With the thoughts. In the dark places. Left to my own devices, the first words that come to me are not the same. The words are discouraging and cruel and throw me off balance. And it goes on and on and on. The poses are hard. These hammies are not built for asanas, But harder than the poses are the constant assault from me on me.
So doing yoga is probably the biggest challenge to my sanity. Because every other yogi is slim and smug and rich and calm and all the things that I am not. On the few times that I have walked into a yoga studio I have felt like the actual elephant in the room. The noisy elephant. Who has forgotten to turn off her phone.
All of this is why I’m addicted to following curvy yogis on Instagram. They seem to have got out of their own way. That have managed their large boobs and generous arses to come to love yoga. I keep thinking that if I stalk them long enough some of that positivity will rub off and I will get through a class without either wanting to cry or punch myself in the head.
Jessamyn Stanley is up there as one of my favourites. While she is definitely a long way past mediocre, she knows that she doesn’t have to be perfect to get joy from her practice. That there is more to this movement business than getting it right all the time. While stuck avoiding ten pin bowling in case people generalise my complete lack of talent in this area to my entire life, she is out there doing what her body craves.
Jessamyn Stanley embodies doing it for the hell of it
Photos by Jessamyn
*Between you, me, and my yoga mat, I would never claim to have mastered any yoga poses. I have, however, made substantial progress with a dedicated daily home practice. It’s the one part of my day that is completely devoted to my mental clarity. Believe me when I say that I’m not really in this for the health benefits and the exercise – I am addicted to exceeding my personal expectations.
As for my Yin experience. I went and the instructor seemed friendly so I stayed. I did find it hard. The poses were held for an inordinate length of time. Days. But I didn’t fart or pee so it really was quite the success. I’d go again. The stretches felt deep and just what I needed and it was lovely not to be sweaty. The words came, of course, they did, but my gang of Instagram mates were cheerleading, reminding me that great bodies can do great things if you talk nicely to them.
*There are no yoga photos. Its harder to take a sneaky selfie than at the gym. But here is me in a modifed corpse pose. It was almost a pic of me in my togs but I’ve used up all my bravery for one day.