“It’s really easy to blame the body for any kind of negative emotion we have… the body is never the problem. We adjust the asana, we don’t blame the body. The asana should be made to fit the student, not the other way around. The body isn’t the problem. Either the prop is the problem or the puzzle, not the body… your body is not a problem, we’re just going to find a different way to do this… I’m going to make this practice work for the body that I’m in; we don’t have to change the body to come to the practice.” - Amber Karnes, The Connected Yoga Teacher Podcast.
It makes me sad when I hear someone talking about trying yoga, only to end with “I’m not flexible enough” or worse, “I don’t have the yoga body”.
What is a "yoga body" anyway? In a practice where the pose is only a small fraction of the practice itself.
I have often pondered the term “Yoga for Every Body”, because when I attend these classes it is anything but. Sequences and poses are done that I question if “Every Body” could do them.
If this class represents what “Every Body” should be capable of doing - how would a new student feel if they really struggled with some aspect of the class? If they felt like they weren’t the “right type” to attend this class and then were proven correct when the class felt completely inaccessible. Would this teacher be able to adapt the poses on the spot to someone stepping onto their mat with chronic pain, mobility issues, injuries, and bodies of various shapes and sizes?
To be honest with you, no they wouldn’t.
As a result, someone who could really use Yoga, will forever feel unwelcome in the Yoga community - and that simply won’t do.
Let me emphasize that this is NOT your fault or the fault of your body, but the presentation of the poses.
Traditionally, Yoga was taught to boys... yes, children, compared modern day students finding yoga as adults seeking the practice for a variety of reasons including injuries, aches and pains some of which are caused by lifestyle.
I used to think I provided “Yoga for Every Body” and “Functional Movement” but my thoughts on what these classes truly represent have evolved since opening Body Mind Yoga and why I teach Small Group Classes. With Small Group Classes, I have the ability to really look at the individuals in each class and tailor the programming to those attending that specific class. I am not perfect, and it can take time for me to figure out what each person needs, especially because I am not always familiar with the specifics of what some conditions, but I am a learning and research junky. The more I learn and grow as instructor the more easily I am able to adapt my classes at a moments notice making sure no one ever feels like they aren’t good enough.
In the rare cases where I am still stumped - I have no qualms about referring out to someone who may be better suited to help you.
It's so important to find a Yoga Teacher who has the knowledge in their back pocket to provide options using variations on positioning and props so the main purpose of the pose is still there, even if everyone in the room is doing something different.
No one is in perfect shape to practice yoga.
At the end of the day, everyone should search for joy in movement - however that shows up - Yoga, Personal Training, Bootcamp Style, Group, Solo Movement, a Walk in the Park. What gives you that buzz?
Don’t settle for the latest craze… explore and be open to discovering something that you never knew you could enjoy. I guarantee there is a space for you - whether it is on the mat, with a bar in your hand, out in nature or something completely different - that's all you.
If this resonates with you or you would like to add to the conversation, reach out to me or pop a comment below. I answer all comments and messages and I would love to hear from you.
Treat yourself like someone you care about.