Saturday, October 20, 2012

Iyengar was no Matthew McConaughey

Do yoga and say good bye to pain, stress, fat and say hello to a new sexy body and a great sex life...

                                   …Right?

I would beg to differ, but if you look at most media covering yoga today it’s not unlikely that you would assume that the practice of yoga breeds hot bodies.

Too often I hear regurgitated hype about the benefits about yoga when I ask individuals what it is they want to accomplish by practicing yoga, or why they have decided to try yoga for the first time.

"I want to look good in my bathing suite this summer!"

"I heard yoga is really good for the core, and I want a flat stomach."

And my personal favorite…

"I heard that Jennifer Aniston ONLY does yoga, and well, HAVE YOU SEEN HER BODY?!"
 
To be honest I never really know how to respond to these statements.  I don’t want to discourage someone interested in starting yoga.

But I can't help but think articles like 10 Poses to Help You Look Good Naked and "workouts" like Fat Free Yoga: Total Tune-up are quite frankly, nonsense, and will inevitably lead to a disenchanted yoga student when it becomes clear these claims are just that…Claims.

I’ve been doing yoga for a long while now, and while I do credit yoga for my rockin’ body that can be compared to Jessica Biel’s athletic frame….

Oh, wait, I don’t look like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel,  or any of the super yoginis featured on the cover of Yoga Journal.

For a while I envied these women and strove to look like them, but it definitely didn’t make me happy.  Really, it only served to frustrate me, instill feelings of self doubt, and I questioned: Why don’t I look like those woman?

Maybe I need to add more core work to my practice?

Maybe if I did yoga in sauna I could sweat off the the fat?

Maybe if I tried detoxing…everyone else is doing it….and doesn't help you lose weight?

And that’s about when I decided to set aside the yoga and fitness magazines for a while.  The reality is after doing yoga and a lot of it I did lose “weight," let me rephrase;  I weigh about the same as I did before yoga but I’m slimmer, not a lot, I'm stronger than I ever imagined, I feel confident, and healthy.

Do I look great naked?  Well, that's subjective, but I sure do feel like I look great naked, and isn't that what's important?  

When I look to the yogi’s and yogini’s I admire most, and a lot of them are not the “ideal” body type, and let's be real here, B.K.S Iyengar was no Matthew McConaughey...Yet, these individuals are beautiful, strong, healthy and many strive to live by their example.  So what’s the deal?

BKS Iyengar
There are a lot of bodies, about 7 billion, and not all of them look the same.  A healthy body may not be a supermodel body, and I’d bet a good chunk of change that for most a supermodel body isn’t the healthiest body. 

Does yoga help you lose weight?

Probably, I don’t know, and I really don’t care to read a case study with numbers and statistics.  For most of use I would go as far as to suggest that your weight or appearance has very little to do with your issues, and that yoga won't be some magic solution. 

So you loose 20 pounds...Will you be satisfied?  Will you feel successful?  Or will you find something else wrong with you?  Find yourself working towards this ideal of perfection?

But what if  instead of approaching your body with thoughts of loathing and disgust, what if you approached your body with care and love?


There’s a reason the body is often described as a temple.  You wouldn’t litter your temple (church, home, or anything you really cherish) with trash.  No, you would treat it respectfully, clean it, and care for its maintenance.  And the funny thing is when you care for that “temple” it looks good too. 

Same for our body.  It’s the care for yourself that makes it beautiful, not beating it down with self-loathing comments, or starving it, or frantically working out to loose 1lb of water weight.  Yoga may help you lose weight, but it can’t make you comfortable in your own skin.

Maybe, idealized body’s in magazines are not the problem, and maybe, yoga isn’t the solution.  Maybe, it’s our intentions and our view of self that’s holding us back or pushing us forward.  


What if you change your motives from self-judgement, to motives of love and care? 

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