The Face (and Body) of Yoga

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 | 4 comments

The Face (and Body) of Yoga

Yesterday I found myself poking around on Pinterest and of course I searched “Yoga”. As I scrolled through the visual representations of my beloved ancient practice I began to feel troubled and frankly angry. I have been a Yogi now for over a decade and have taught many others in the past several years but NONE of us look like THAT! Of course Yogis come in all shapes and sizes, but something is off when 90% of the images picture women who are single digit sizes and appear to be in their mid to early 20’s. And then let’s talk about the poses pictured – mostly VERY advanced poses. Really? I rejoice when any individual finds peace and health through Yoga, but what do these images do for the person who really wants and/or needs to do Yoga but feels that they are too (insert description here)? It makes them feel excluded and not good enough reinforcing the impression that Yoga is some sort of club that they don’t have any right to join. And that is what makes me angry. I have personally witnessed the transformation that Yoga can bring – not so much in the size of a body, but definitely in the strength and health of a body not to mention the mental clarity. But where are we represented? Where are the bodies like mine and my student’s, strong, healthy and flexible but still a size 14,or over 60, or over 80, or winning the battle with chronic illness? Where are we in the picture of Yoga? We are there, but we are buried under the other 90% so you have to dig deeper. But will that person who needs/wants Yoga dig that deep to find someone they can relate to? My dear Yogis this is where we have neglected our duty. How many times do we refuse to have our picture taken because we feel we do not look “good enough”? Yoga poses are about the body and its ability to move so pictures of these poses highlight our physical form – and we have a hard time dealing with that. So we decline to have our Yoga image displayed, and that is our mistake. We are not present in the depiction of Yoga – because we will not consent to be photographed and have those photos displayed. This is a hard truth, but consider the injustice we do to those who seek Yoga and feel excluded not to mention the injustice we do to the practice of Yoga itself. And even worse consider the injustice we do to ourselves by once again telling our bodies they are not good enough. I know having your body displayed in all its Yogic glory is very difficult – I had to face this reality when I posted this website and included my own images. But it is time that we stand up for Yoga, for those seeking Yoga and for ourselves. It is time that we change the face and body of Yoga on the web and in the media. My fellow Yogis I beg you to strike a pose – photograph it – and then post it! Show the world who we are and hopefully someone will see someone like themselves and finally feel invited into the club....

Read More

When the World is Falling Apart

Posted on Apr 5, 2011 | 0 comments

It seems like there is nothing but bad news everywhere right now and it can really start to affect your outlook on life.  Between the tragic events in Japan, the state of the global economy and frustration with our political/economic situation, how does a Yogi/Yogini keep perspective and frankly how do we keep Hope alive? Something very interesting happens when we begin to practice Yoga.  The very essence of Yoga is to reconnect to the Divine in ourselves and others.  The result is that like the Grinch our heart grows three sizes.  We find that we FEEL others pain much more acutely.  It goes past knowing or understanding, these take place in the head.  But when we FEEL with others – that takes place in our Soul and our Heart.  It is much deeper and more profound.  As a result we may find that the pain of people a world away makes our chest ache. Don’t forget that there is Divine in each of us and since Divine is universal – we are ALL connected at a level that can not be explained away.  So it makes sense that we can physically hurt for people we don’t even know.  But this burden can be very hard to bear.  So how does a Yogi/Yogini protect their sanity and keep Hope alive? The answer is in Loving/Kindness on the mat and off.  Remember that when we practice Loving/Kindness meditation it is like ripples in a pond.  It doesn’t matter what words you use – it is the power behind the thoughts that makes the difference.  So when everything seems overwhelming take a few minutes to do the following: 1.  Send YOURSELF love and kindness 2.  Send your Family love and kindness 3.  Send your Friends love and kindness 4.  Send your ENEMIES love and kindness (VERY important) 5.  Send ALL beings, born and to be born, love and kindness The very action of concentrating on love and kindness will help you, the Yogi/Yogini, to feel more balanced and positive.  And by the way, there is science now to back this up.  Scientist have used functional MRI’s to map brain activity, and when the subject focused on positive thoughts the portion of the brain that drives positive emotions activated and stayed activated.   I have always said it is easy to be a Yogi/Yogini on the mat, in class or on retreat, the real test comes after.  The real work of a Yogi/Yogini happens off the mat.  This is where the rubber meets the road. Send love and kindness to EVERYONE you meet.  Yes even that person who cuts you off in Houston traffic.  Yes even the person at Starbucks who is complaining.  Yes even to your boss or co-worker who is on your last nerve.  No exceptions – Everyone.  This is tough.  Remember I don’t ask you to do the easy thing – it is the hard stuff that transforms your life and the life of others. When you respond to ugliness with love and kindness you take the wind out of the sails of the situation.  I am not talking about being a push over – remember a Yogi/Yogini is strong in body/mind/soul.  But you do not have to buy into the hype and perpetuate the negative.  So how does that help someone a world away you ask.  Well like the ripples in a pond you never know how far reaching your action is.  Someone you smile at today may be on the phone with someone in Japan and that positivity will transmit over a phone line.  It really does –...

Read More