I love to see how Yoga has become such a big part of the greater community in our culture. People from all walks of life can be found in the studio today. I see Yoga mats strapped around the backs of people on every block. It’s not just here in San Francisco anymore; studios can be found in almost every town in America. It is referenced on TV, in ads, books, and magazines. It’s everywhere. What a dream!
But there is a shadow side to the community, which I have noticed growing larger as Yoga reaches its tipping point. There is an infiltration of the media’s unrealistic images of Yoga that are seeping into the sight and minds of those of us who may not be paying close attention: beautiful images plastered all over the studios, social media and the merchandise, of extremely limber beings in poses that are almost impossible for the majority of us to achieve.
Don’t get me wrong -- there is nothing more stunning than a perfectly limber, anatomically aligned body shaped like a scorpion. My concern is that they are usually the only images we see of Yoga. I can’t help but think that they ignite that little voice inside that likes to taunt us that we are something less than those images. Yoga is built around the teachings of self-love and self-acceptance, yet the current image it projects provokes something entirely different within. Yoga is so much more than that.
Yoga is about breath, presence, integrity, morality, mortality, compassion, humanity, connectivity, acceptance, sustainability, patience, curiosity–the list goes on. For those of us that are unable to get our fingers to our toes - let alone our feet to our head - we can still find respite in the breath and the ability to move just a little bit easier in our body that day. That is what it is all about.
The media sends off this message that only certain body types and the poses they can attain will be able to access this state of bliss!! “Bliss.” This is a big buzz word in the Yoga community. “Live in your bliss!” alongside a picture of someone bent like a pretzel. Well, you know what, sometimes I am living in the circus of life and sometimes I can’t touch my toes.
But you know what? I can still do Yoga.
The beauty of Yoga is there is a style for everyone. The room doesn’t have to be hot and the movement doesn’t have to be fast, although some days that is right for some bodies. No matter what your mood, your level of energy, your body type, or your disability, there is something in it for you. Close yourself out to the media’s interpretation of what Yoga is and step into the open door of reality, which is waiting for you in the studio right down the street.