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Learn how by reading; Inner Engineering - A Yogi's Guide to Joy

Not Fit for Yoga?

And the problem of body image


Some are born supple, but most have to work hard

The idea of yoga all to often conjures up images of slim, attractive and very supple people so they are put off even trying because they don’t see themselves as ever fitting that image, but this must be overcome.

By holding to a negative self image, people lock themselves into a state of perpetual suffering, the very thing that yoga remedies. Yoga has nothing to do with body type, and many who ‘look good in yoga poses’ have taken years to achieve the flexibility and some self mastery.

Yet yoga has little to do with the body, sure it must be exercised, but physical yoga exercises are only an outward preparation for an internal process.

The real problem is that we live in a judgemental world, we have been taught to judge and none of us are free from it, yet self judgement is the original sin as it creates separation between aspects of self and one’s self and the life that we are intrinsically part of.

Many who are naturally flexible and make yoga asana look easy often go through the motions of ‘doing yoga’ but in reality, they are not moving in like. Instead they are stroking their ego and as such, deluding themselves.

With regular practice, most peoples bodies do become more flexible, some will lose weight, but most changes occur on the inside. One’s body functions better and gives a sense of physical ease. Those of big build find a physical lightness as asanas do increase strength and fitness.

Body image activist and yogi Jessamyn Stanley shares
the history of her body, and how her
feelings about it have changed over time.
Read more

The real work in yoga is in moving self identification from the limited ego and body image to consciousness. It is the ego or small mind that judges and separates, and this is our primary cause of suffering.

Learning is in sense ‘unlearning’ all the rubbish we collect over our lifetimes, unlearning self judgement, unlearning judgemental attitudes towards others while learning that you and your body are real, that you are a real and valid human being co-existing in a universe that’s too vast to comprehend.

Therefore, if you happen to be squeamish because you’re stiff or fat, or because you couldn’t sit with your eyes closed in class for fear, then you need to take up some form of yoga. You can practise at home or join a class.

As a home practise, you can follow some of the many videos on Youtube or get a good manual. All you need is a space in which you can practise regularly and as your confidence grows, perhaps attend a public class or take personal tuition which is helpful as you can discuss your practise and get support.

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