Five stupid things about the label ‘Yoga body’

Ok. Guilty. It’s been a while. No need to remind me. I’ve been reminding myself everyday for quite a few months. Luckily (for who exactly?), I’m wound up enough to express my emotions through blog.

There are two words I think should be struck from the English language with intensity. Like angrily crossing something off a list with a sharp pencil. Or angry purple crayon.

Those words are ‘yoga body’.
‘Yoga body’. And one more time – ‘yoga body’.
Who the hell is the punk who came up with this label??!!

I take gorilla pose very seriously. I actually look like a gorilla.

I take gorilla pose very seriously. I actually look like a gorilla.

I love yoga. On a good week I make three lunch time sessions and three after work and for good measure I throw in pilates once in a while.
I’ve dabbled with yoga previously but this time things are getting serious. I have two mats, two fancy non-skid towels, mat spray, a special yoga top with a built in bra, my own block, strap and foam roller, and I’m thinking of getting a headband with ‘I heart yoga’ plastered on the front. Have I bought into the fad of fancy fitness gear?… No, I don’t think so.

I even have two studios I pay an unlimited subscription to and the crazy thing is that I actually turn up rather than pay the usual gym donation (big shout out to Abundance and The Yoga Lounge)!

See?! I love yoga.

What I really don’t love though is the discussion on what constitutes a yoga body.
Let me just be clear. I do not have a yoga body. Whatever the hell it’s supposed to be.

Do my ankles look big in these leg warmers?

Do my ankles look big in these leg warmers?

I have sturdy, solid thighs – which I’m told is a proud, hereditary trait of the fierce, strong women in my family (in fact, my aim for a while now has been to have such strong thighs that I can crack coconuts between them – Too much information).  I have a curved spin which makes me look like a turtle in forward folds. I have unnaturally short arms which means reaching my toes was celebrated with the same enthusiasm as the moon landing.
And last but not least, I have a broken tail bone so when I’m told to sit properly on my sit bones I start to feel a little punchy.

So why should I even like yoga? Good question wise listener.

It’s empowering. It’s hard. It’s sweaty. It’s ego shattering. It’s satisfying. It’s soothing. It’s energising. And it makes me realise how strong I am. Both mentally and physically.
Shit that’s deep.

So with my crazy twisted spine, short little squirrel arms and broken tail, I get really frustrated when articles describe yoga bodies as something I’m not, nor will ever be.

With that, I’m giving you five stupid things about the label ‘yoga body’.

  1. Whilst trying to check out if you have a ‘yoga body’, you will spend too much time looking at the mirror in your studio and smack your forehead on the floor during crow pose.
  2. It’s likely you will buy a bra, tights or sparkly top a size too small because you think it is the size of someone who should have a ‘yoga body’. You will never wear said item of clothing as it cuts off your circulation and makes you lose the will to live.
  3. When you see endless ‘fitspo’ (don’t even get me started on that label), images of people with ‘yoga bodies’, you will get angry at the internet. And the internet is your friend. That’s where Netflix lives.
  4. Because you are trying to hard to fit into the expectations of a ‘yoga body’, you will bare not a part of your actual body to the outside world. Which is a shame because your actual body is beautiful. And you will also be vitamin D deficient.
  5. If you become too consumed with your ‘yoga body’, You’ll miss out on the real benefits of yoga. Inner awesomeness. And let’s be frank, everyone could do with a little more inner awesomeness.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, there are some very impressive people out there doing great work to crack this ceiling of expectations around the ‘yoga body’. I’d like to salute My Real Yoga Body and Richard Widmark from the Raw Experience who are doing a remarkable amount of good by changing how we see yoga bodies.

On a final note, happy Yoga day everybody! May your tree pose be strong and your forward folds bendy.

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