8 Step Guide to Stop Your Self Loathing

So I got this comment on my blog after my last post ‘Asteya’ and it really upset me – one of the reasons it hit me hard was that I could TOTALLY relate to what the reader was saying, and I know that many others of you also do, or know someone who, feels this way…

The reader wrote:

‘I love your analysis, I am stealing all the time and need to stop, I have stolen my own joy, by constantly being unhappy with who I am, my own vanity on how I look, how much I weigh, how I am ageing and then constantly comparing myself to others, on the mat I feel stressed because I worry if I don’t do the practice right, if someone else is doing it better and I have finally stopped going to practice, now am sabotaging myself because I have lost my form, am putting on weight and feel lost. How do you break the cycle, feel totally aligned with oneself and stop stealing joy and peace from your own self?’

Firstly, I would say the only way to START to stop this cycle is to literally stop – try stop thinking this way, get back on the mat and just show up, everyday. Remember you are the ruler of your own brain, you are not your thoughts and YOU are the only one who can control them.

About me – I grew up in an industry that was purely based on looks first – talent second. At dance college I went through needless dieting to have the ultimate dancers body…when in reality I was a UK size 8….and it stuck with me for many years. Finally I found myself in a happy relationship, travelling the world and feeling content, and like a lot of people who think they have found someone who will love you exactly as you are, who loves you for you and not your appearance, I put on weight. Then began the ‘loathing years’, rather that actually grab the bull by the horns and do something about it, and I mean really do something about it, like stop drinking/eating so much and find an exercise routine that you will stick too, I went down the path of self-pity and comparison. Looking back now I must have enjoyed feeling shit about myself as I managed to waste a lot of valuable time obsessing over how shit I looked….anyway, for me, my saviour was Yoga, slowly, slowly I began to rejoice in the things my body COULD do, and how it felt and of course the effects of this soon start to filter into your mental health.

I got so immersed in how GOOD yoga made me feel that I took the teacher training and left my job as a Dance Lecturer to pursue a life of a travelling yogi (meaning no fixed abode, travelling and teaching around the world)  A few years on and I have made a much more spiritual connection, started in earnest a meditation practice and get on my mat daily to practice Ashtanga Yoga. Through this practice I have changed the way I eat, and even though I am still at war with myself somedays I have learnt how to manage it, I have a much more positive outlook on it and am much much better at accepting myself for who I am, right now in this moment.

It wasn’t, and isn’t, as easy as writing this post. Somedays I look in the mirror and feel disgusted, somedays I just feel ‘meh’ and somedays I don’t look in the mirror at all and just go on how I feel. And somedays I look in the mirror and think – ‘I am not my physical body’

So, as I resonate with this, and have first hand experience of this and have, and am STILL working on this, here is my ‘8 Step Guide to’ helping you get out of the cycle…

  1. Stop comparing yourself. Time and time again I come across this, but stop this behaviour RIGHT NOW!!!! comparison is the thief of joy….FACT.
  2. Unfollow ALL those ‘perfect’ people on social media. It’s even more difficult in the digital age to feel happy and content with how we are, we are constantly bombarded with images on social media of models and celebrities looking ‘prefect’ giving us a totally false, airbrushed image of society. So, I suggest that you unfollow all the ‘unrealistic’ filtered people (I’m talking Kardashians/Models/Fitness Gurus/ex-models turned Yogi’s et al)
  3. Try a photo diary – take a photo of yourself each day and write down how you felt about yourself AT THAT MOMENT. Take them over the course of the week/month, hell even year. Try to hold the same pose, maybe in your undies (no one is going to look at it but you) Look back at them at the end of the project. I guarantee that (unless you are also dieting) you will look the same in all the photos yet your emotion or feeling about yourself will be different – this will prove that body image is all in the mind
  4. Get out and MOVE – yes, of course I am going to recommend you do yoga, it’s my life, but really just do anything that helps you get a sweat on – cross fit, run, swim, dance – it doesn’t matter, just do it, and do it often, I’m talking AT LEAST 4 times per week. Staying fit keeps your body, and more importantly your MIND (hello endorphins) healthy, but it’s hard and it takes commitment.
  5. Re-assess your diet. Cut out ALL processed foods, junk foods, unhealthy snacks and – gulp – seriously cut down on the alcohol. Use this post as a guide Go processed food free here . Don’t ‘diet’ but think of this as a lifestyle change, a complete change in your habitual nourishment.
  6. Mediation – start a meditation practice (beginners guide here). By meditating we are training our brain to focus on the present, the power of now, and to accept things for what they are.
  7. Stop giving a shit, cause no one else does!  Seriously, I have a friend who looks like a model, tall, slim, tanned, beautiful sun kissed hair and even she gets bikini panic! Seriously, no one gives a shit about you as they are all too busy self loathing themselves!!! And if you think too much about how you look to find a partner you are looking for the wrong partner. If your friends judge you on your waistline they are not good friends that you need in your life. Which leads nicely to:
  8. Find a self-esteem friend – you know, you may be lucky enough to have one or more than one already – that pal or sister/mother/brother who loves you for who you are UNCONDITIONALLY and tells you so. He/she will tell you you are amazing when you need to hear it, or better still will be able to tell you to ‘get over yourself’ when you are wallowing in the pool of your self-pity.

Sounds simple right?  It is.

WITH PRACTICE, working on a change in your mindset, like everything it will come.

Let me know how you get on! Please comment and start the discussion below!

 

An un-flitered me – crow’s feet and all – but blissfully happy on a beach in Thailand

Asteya – giving, not taking

Asteya is our third Yama, this literally means ‘non-stealing; and again it can be taken literally, of course we should not steal – it’s bad.
But looking a little deeper into the meaning of the Yama, as by now you hopefully realise we must do, what do we ‘steal’ that is not ours to take in abstract form?
Other people’s attention/time/energies?

Resources from the earth?

Someone else’s creative ideas?
The sutras explain this yama as not to be literally stealing but that when Asteya (non stealing) is established then all treasures will come to the yogi, or when the heart is pure, all means will come.

 

Shiva, meditation, intentions, India, Mysore, Chamundi Hill

 

On researching this post I began to understand this moral restraint more and more. We are constantly taking, taking the air we breath, the food and water we eat and drink to survive, space, time and energy we take it all. So maybe this yama is teaching us, yes take these things to survive, but GIVE BACK what and when you can.

Recycle, buy all products with a conscience (oragnic, sustainable, local), grow something, plant a tree!

LISTEN when others are talking – PAY IT FORWARD.

Do something for someone else, everyday if you can, even if it’s just offering to make someone else a drink at work, smile back at the person in the shop, say thank you – spare some time for others, etc etc I think you get it – life is not just a one way street we drive straight ahead on and to hell with the others on it, be considerate to yourself, others and of course the planet that provides us with so much free resources.

On the mat you should practice asteya, I’ll use the quote that I use in my classes and I have previously written about here – don’t steal, or covet, what others have, just be happy with where you are at, and what you have got, not just on the mat actually but in life in general – comparison IS the thief of joy!

 

 

Also, and you will get bored with me saying this on here – GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! In this busy, crazy, online world you need to stop stealing your own time and give yourself a break! Detach from your social media (I promise you it will still be there when you return) turn off the TV (how often do you just have it on like background noise) make yourself a cuppa and just sit for a while like in the olden days when they didn’t have TV or iphones.

In this way the sutras say ‘All treasures will come to you’. Stop taking so much, start giving back. How pleasant the world would be if we all did just that.

 

Satya – is being truthful

Satya, Yamas and Niyamas, Eighfold Path, Ashtanga, Yoga

The second YAMA from the eight limbs of yoga is Satya – truthfulness

When we were growing up our parents taught us Satya, to be truthful and not to lie, or deceive. So why do we deceive? When we know it’s fundamentally wrong why do we do it? Being truthful is just a polite way to live our lives in harmony with each other. But truthfulness can also mean being realistic, true to ourselves and others.

Have you ever said you liked something when you didn’t really so you didn’t hurt someone’s feelings – I can guarantee we have all done this. From time to time we might meet someone who is so brutally honest that they offend, we often call this ‘having no filter’ but are they the ones who are truly observing Satya, and being honest above all else?

 

 

I think it’s a fine line. By speaking the truth that is harmful to others we are not practicing Ahimsa, non harming….so each word must be carefully weighed before it is uttered. Finding a way to speak your truth without harming others. Ahimsa is the most important Yama, and we must follow this above all the others.

Being true to yourself is another matter – what does this mean? Some might call it ‘going with your gut’ I perceive this to be that deep down you know what is right for you and what is not. Removing things from your life that ‘no longer serve you’ be that people, jobs, feelings, emotions or attachments.

We have to be honest with ourselves so that we can be honest with others. Only when we live with complete transparency can we really truly feel true to ourselves, and on the path to ‘Santosha’ or contentment and inner peace.

So – embrace yourself for who you are, don’t change yourself to please others, at the same time show respect to yourself and you will gain respect from others. And remember, always think about what you say and do before you say and do it as harming others through your words and actions goes against the first and most important Yama, Ahimsa.

Om Shanti!

 

Ahimsa – a what’s a?

Ahimsa, Yama, Niyama, Eight Limbs, yoga, Ashtanga, relax, chill, be kind

Ahimsa – or ‘non violence’ is the first of the Yamas, the moral guidelines that are part of the first limb of the eightfold path.

Non – violence is obvious, we don’t want to lead our lives being violent, or using violence as a way to get what we want.

As set out in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Ahimsa (2.35) states ‘As a Yogi becomes firmly grounded in non-injury (ahimsa), other people who come near will naturally lose any feelings of hostility’
(ahimsa pratishthayam tat vaira-tyagah)

 

offerings of peace and prosperity at a Shiva temple, Chamundi Hill Steps, Mysore, India
offerings of peace and prosperity at a Shiva temple, Chamundi Hill Steps, Mysore, India

 

For me, Ahimsa means something more than just the obvious not using violence to others but to not be violent to ourselves, and by this I mean during practice and in other areas of your life. On the mat I constantly remind people to practice Ahimsa, be patient, be kind, the body will achieve great things when you are kind to it. If your hips are tight, don’t attempt lotus! If your hamstrings are tight, don’t worry about reaching your big toe – use a strap! Yoga is not a race to achieve but a vehicle for the journey to understanding your true self…there is no time limit and you won’t reach samadhi when you achieve a certain difficult or challenging posture, so just chill and let it happen!

On a more subtle level using Ahimsa in daily life can mean just being kinder to yourself. We don’t have to be these multi-tasking super heroes that modern society wants us to believe we should be!

Go easy on yourself, as I have written before, quieten the ego and let life unfold naturally. No one, at the very least yourself, will benefit from burn out, so take it easy and practice ahimsa on yourself, I think we used to call this some ‘me’ time.

Go for a walk, read a book, meditate, and don’t use violence against yourself to push yourself to be anything other than who you are….close the door to your family/friends/children/work colleagues from time to time and allow yourself to jut RELAX

 

Ahimsa, Hammock, Eight limbs, ashtanga, yoga
Ahimsa, be kind to yourself and relax!

 

At the same time, what many of us believe to be the way to treat ourselves is to drink, eat or shop! So be mindful that those things can also harm us, and this in return is not practicing ahimsa, neither is pushing yourself to hard and denying yourself of food, drink, or material possessions, remember its all about balance.

What can you do to practice Ahimsa? I’d love for comments and dialogue with these Yama and Niyama posts so please, let’s start a conversation!

with love and light, always.

 

yoga, lotus, meditation, yoga teacher, ashtanga

Yin-licious

Yin class with Claire Yates, Yin Yoga, Yoga Teacher

Breathe In, Breathe Out, and Let it All Go

All the rushing around we do in our busy lives (why ARE our lives so busy?) all the vinyasas, chattarangas, arm balances or eka padas we do in our ‘yang’ physically active yoga classes, isn’t it nice just to let yourself relax and slow down a little? Just breathe and let the body open up and surrender?

 

Yin class with Claire Yates, Yin Yoga, Yoga Teacher

 

That’s what getting Yin-licious is all about. Surrendering the body and mind and letting yourself relax and unwind. Give yourself time to open up and SLOW DOWN.

The essence of yin yoga is to gently ease us into long held postures and just breathe. We typically hold postures for 3-5 minutes minimum.

It’s a time to unwind, chill out and just simply be present in your body with the breath. Not ujjayi breath, or any other type of pranayama, but deep, natural belly breathing.

 

Yin class with Claire Yates, Yin Yoga, Yoga Teacher

 

Created in the 80’s by Paul Grilley, Yin focuses on the fascia, the connective tissue that lies over the top of the muscles. Paul says – ‘a yin approach works to promote flexibility in areas often perceived as nonmalleable, especially the hips, pelvis, and lower spine’ Most other types of yoga being ‘Yang’ meaning that they work on the large muscle groups and joints, are energising and flow with the breath.

Yin forces us to slow down, take stock and tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, the ‘rest and digest’ system, promoting healing and nourishment.

 

Yin class with Claire Yates, Yin Yoga, Yoga Teacher

 

Tightness in fascia can restrict blood flow (ever experienced your leg going numb whilst sitting in meditation? That’s due to restricted blood flow in the fascia/connective tissue, particularly in the outer hips) so we need to keep it (fascia) hydrated and ‘springy’ to avoid injuries.

In particular as a support for Ashtanga Yoga it can help with tightness in hamstrings, and the tensor fascia latae, which connects to the IT band, causing tightness in external rotation of the hips, two of the key focuses of the Primary Series.

This video clip can be particularly useful for understanding how and why these tissues need to be stretched. (Warning cadavers are used in this video)

 

 

So that’s a little science behind the method, But working not just on physical level, Yin yoga takes us away from the over stimulated world we now live in. A chance to shut out the constant mind chatter and just be. Focusing on the breath and be present with the here and now.

Feeling grounded and revitalised. That’s not to say that in all postures you will feel cool, calm and collected! Some postures will challenge you physically and not be so comfortable, but learning to sit and breath through this discomfort can be a skill that you can use in your life off of the mat.

As with all yoga styles the end result is to prepare the body for sitting in meditation. With Yin yoga you can focus on breath, as in meditation and let it all go, feeling present and connected with the body and mind.

I’m teaching Yin at Akasha Wellness Retreat in Romania alongside our Ashtanga Program, but you can find classes at most yoga studios these days or go along with a guided youtube one, and get all Yin-licious on yourself!

with love and light, Claire

 

 

The Eightfold Path – what Ashtanga yoga is REALLY about

Pattabhi Jois said:

“Ashtanga is a breathing practice, the rest is just bending”

Every day my understanding of Yoga, specifically Ashtanga Yoga, deepens. Every day I realise that the physical asana mean less than the spiritual path, but you can’t have one without the other!

I have been writing a manual for the retreat I am currently working at and it has helped me to remember the things I have learnt on my own personal yoga journey.

To begin to understand you must know that ‘Ashtanga’ or ‘Eight Limbs’ is based on the eightfold path set out by Patanjali in the second book of sutras, and that the first two limbs are the all important moral codes, the ‘Yamas’ and ‘Niyamas’

 

lotus, meditation, yoga, selfies, instagram, yoga body, fitness industry

 

I’m going to be writing a lot more about them in future posts, but here is a brief outline:

Yamas

The Moral Restraints:

Ahimsa – Non-Violence – towards yourself and all others

Satya – Truthfulness – always be true to yourself and others

Asteya – Non Stealing – not just possessions but also can refer to time and attention of others.

Bramachara – Self Restraint – everything in moderation!

Aparigraha – Non-Attachment – to all things material and metaphysical

 

Niyamas

Observances of self:

Saucha – Cleanliness – an observance to show respect of yourself and others.

Santosha – Contentment – being happy with what you have

Tapas – Self Discipline – again, links with Bramachara and self-restraint

Svadhyaya – Self Study – both study of the physical and non-physical elements of yoga

Isvara-Pranidaha – Surrender/Devotion – to believe that there is something higher than yourself, even if it is just the divine self.

 

 

We then have the third limb – ASANA – the physical practice of yoga, the moving with BREATH through a series of postures using focus (dhristi) and internal strength (bandhas). Linking the breath with movement (Vinyasa) you start to feel a strong connection with your inner self, you learn a lot about yourself in this way, not just your physical ease or limitations but how you approach them mentally.

The fourth limb, Pranayama, is also a physical practice and concerns breath control ‘exercises’ to help the mind start to settle and be calm.

These two limbs together then start to prepare us for the final four limbs, Pratyahara – Withdrawal of Senses – preparing yourself by drawing the focus inwards to prepare for Dharana – Focus and Concentration – preparing the mind for meditation, Dhyana, and then during much practice of Dhyana (meditation) you reach the final limb, Samadhi, or enlightenment, the ultimate goal of ‘yoga’

meditation, eight limbs, ashtanga

So you see, there is a lot more to it than balancing on our hands upside down. It goes a lot deeper than that. As a teacher my aims and objectives have now changed as I try to make people realise that no matter how ‘flexible’ they are, or are not, Ashtanga is not about the poses, the instalikes, the getting your head behind your neck, but ALL EIGHT LIMBS working together.

Anyone who can BREATH can learn this, the health benefits are an added bonus!

I’ll leave you with another quote from Pattabhi Jois which for me sums it all up:

“Anyone can practice. Young man can practice. Old man can
practice. Very old man can practice. Man who is sick, he can
practice. Man who doesn’t have strength can practice. Except
lazy people; lazy people can’t practice ashtanga yoga.”

 

Pattabhi Jois, Padmasana, Lotus, Meditation, Ashtanga
photo credit: http://taysp.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Jois-1.jpg

Don’t be lazy people, start by making the moral observances, then the physical practice, wherever you are on it,  and start your journey on the eightfold path. Om shanti and don’t forget:

The light in me honours the light in you

Quietening the Ego…..all is coming

Ashtanga, Yoga, Ego, Self reflection, how to quiet the mind

To truly appreciate a yoga practice it is important to quiet the ego, and this is no mean feat. You need to be able to do this to progress and get the most out of your practice.

 

Ego, Small, Practice, Ashtanga, Yoga, Egotistical
we are but small in this big world

 

Firstly, let’s have a look at this word EGO and what it truly means. Most people use the word to talk about someone else’s, or their own, sense of importance, or self-esteem. We talk about someone being ‘egotistical’ in mostly a derogatory fashion.  Originating from the 19th century latin term for ‘I’ it can sometimes be confused with selfishness, or being conceited and arrogant, however in this instance EGO is not to be confused with EGOTISTICAL.

So how can we quiet the ego so we can practice REAL yoga? Remember the it’s the latin word for ‘I’, so start to drop the ‘I want’, ‘I need’, or ‘I can’t’ thoughts from your head. Relish in the journey of yoga, rather than race towards the destination. For example, when you reach a asana that challenges you don’t think ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘I need to be able to do this posture’ just bring breath and focus to the posture and slowly, slowly you will move through it and achieve it.

 

Pattabhi Jois, Padmasana, Lotus, Meditation, Ashtanga
Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois – ‘Guruji’ – photo credit: http://taysp.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Jois-1.jpg

The popular, and often quoted phrase ‘all is coming’ or ‘practice and all is coming’ Pattabhi Jois coined is in particular referencing this.

I have such high expectations of myself (on and off the mat) that I have found this sometimes a challenge, far from being egotistical I veer towards a self-deprecating attitude, and this is still the ego controlling you…’I’m not good enough’ etc. My ashtanga journey so far has been both humbling and at times frustrating, but my best practices always – ALWAYS – happen when I let go of the ego and just BREATHE.

Try it next time you step onto your mat. I promise you will be pleasantly surprised.

Practice, quiet the ego, and ALL is coming

Up in the Mountains – Akasha Wellness Retreat

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

So I’m here in the mountains and living and working at the  wonderful Akasha Wellness Retreat, in the heart of Transylvania, deep in the Carpathian Mountains, Romania. It is a stunning venue for a ‘first of it’s kind’ yoga and mediation retreat in Romania.

I’m into my third retreat, this week a ‘Sacred Feminine Yoga Retreat’ which started yesterday on International Womens Day, which is also Mother’s Day in Romania. Each retreat takes on a different theme, but they all include twice a day yoga, meditation and wonderful vegan food.

 

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

 

The kind of yoga we are teaching is an Ashtanga Fundamentals, a modified Primary Series in the mornings and the evening classes are Restorative and Yin Styles. Supporting this are meditation sessions at the end of class and dedicated meditation workshops to explain in more detail some of the techniques we use to help people start or improve a mediation practice.

 

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains
Mixed in with that are workshops & activities that are tailored to that week’s theme, for example we’ve had Gong Sound Baths, Tibetan Flag making, Chakra Balancing and Buddhist Meditation workshops and activities like 108 gratitude mandalas or guided walks through the beautiful village and hills that surround us 360 degrees.

 

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

 

The food is carefully curated to give you all the nutrients you need and for some, open their eyes (and mouths!) to a plant-based diet. It is delicious and healthy and will leave you feeling nourished and full. There are lots of organic teas to try plus plenty of lemon, ginger and apple cider to help aid digestion or simply to relax with a good book in the lounge or sit out on the balcony admiring the views.
You can also feel pampered and relaxed with the spa treatments, ranging from an outdoor hot tub and sauna with breathtaking views or choose from Swedish, Shaistu or Cranio Sacral therapy for your massages, or simply have a relaxing bath ritual with your own choice of salts and essential oils.

I can’t believe how lucky I am to have found this place and feel honoured to be teaching here and be part of the Akasha family, which includes the dogs, Tony, Bursuc, Luna and the little puppies we rescued, Phoenix, Shiva and Joy…and not forgetting crazy Beasley the dogcat!

 

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

For more information on our upcoming retreats check out the website, with flights from London starting as cheap as £20 – WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? See you soon!

https://www.akasharetreat.com/

 

 

The Mountains are calling…..and I must go

Mountains, Carpathians, Snow, Transylvania, Romania, Brasov, Snowboarding, North Face

*John Muir

 

north face duffell, mountains, john muir

 

This quote was on the label of my new duffel bag, and I found this very apt for my last few days in the UK before I head off for a new adventure in the mountains…

Do I have wanderlust forever now? Will I always be a nomad?
After two and a half months of living back at home in the UK I found what I was looking for, and that was a full-time job overseas again!

England, my England, I did try to stay with you, but it seems my wandering soul is not yet ready to settle back down, there are so many more adventures out there for me to take, so many experiences waiting to happen and so many more people yet to meet! and of course, to those people I meet I will be sharing my true love and passion for Yoga and the Yogic lifestyle.

 

pestera village, carpathians, national geographic, romania, transylvania

 

And so to the Carpathian Mountains in Romania I go, deep in the heart of Transylvania lies a beautiful little retreat called ‘Akasha’ offering stunning views and stylish interiors, Akasha provides its guests with a change to experience a R.E/Treat programme, a relaxing and energising treat. There, high in the mountains above the daily city life they practice a simple philosophy inspired by nature, clean eating, relaxation, spirituality & a balanced healthy mind healthy body lifestyle.

 

Akasha Retreat, Pestera, Transylvania, Romania

 

They also state that:

THIS IS NOT JUST A YOGA RETREAT.

THIS IS NATURE’S TREAT FOR YOUR WELLBEING

Read more about the retreat, and to book yourself on one (mention me and you will get a free massage treatment) :

https://www.akasharetreat.com/

I am beyond excited to be travelling over next week to meet the owners, other teachers and of course all the lovely guests. I’m intrigued to experience Romania, a beautiful, rarely trodden gem in Eastern Europe and see what it has to offer.

So, reader, If you are reading this as you’ve got the wanderlust, or just ‘wander curious’ all I can say is – once you have a taste of it it’s a hard habit to kick!

And I love every minute of it!

The duffel bag that prompted this post can be bought here

Mountains, Carpathians, Snow, Transylvania, Romania, Brasov, Snowboarding, North Face

Yoga Selfies – yay or nay?

yoga, selfies, inspiration, meditation, ashtanga, instagram, yoga body, yoga explotation

I was reading earlier on another blog how the author had started a little movement called #realpeopleofashtanga – it was post about how social media can make yoga (she writes specifically about Ashtanga Yoga) seem like it’s just for very slim, very tall, and VERY flexible people. In other words, fitness models.

Which is makes me sad. Because the meaning of Yoga – is union, it’s coming together as a tribe, and it’s coming together with yourself, and accepting yourself for what you are. I’m wondering how you feel about this? Does seeing pictures of model-turned yogi in advanced asana deter you from starting your yoga journey or make you feel inadequate in your own ability as a yogi?

For me I see both sides of the argument. Social media is an international platform to showcase your business, and many of us are in the business of self promotion. I know that some of my most liked Instagram posts are yoga selfies. I totally respect the dedication to the practice to be able to achieve those advanced asana (poses) But I also have deleted a few of the accounts I used to follow as I did start to feel that I was not good enough in comparison to them.

Of course, living by the motto ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ (more on this here) is sometimes easier said than done. I know that Kino McGregor gets tons of negativity from the Ashtanga world, but if you bother to read her comment she really is a truly devout Ashtangi, has studied for many years and dedicated her life to her practice. I personally find her an inspiration, but maybe that’s because I know her back story, something many people don’t bother to find out, they just see her  doing crazy postures in skimpy shorts. Go figure.

Back to my main point – does this affect you, if you are not already a yoga practitioner to WANT to try yoga or TO SCARED to try yoga because you thinks it’s just for skinny white girls wearing expensive sports clothing?

I can’t tell you the amount of times someone, once they find out I am a Yoga teacher say ‘oh I would like to do yoga but I’m so inflexible, I can’t even touch my toes’ and I reply ‘and that is exactly WHY you should start taking yoga classes. The benefits are waaaaay more than being flexible. And not all yogi’s look like the fitness models that the clothing brands use. We come in all shapes, sizes and colours and are all capable of different things with our bodies. If you want to start yoga, ask yourself this. Can you sit and breathe? Yep, just sit, in any position comfortable to you with your spine straight and breathe, inhale and exhale? Then my friend, you are doing YOGA. The rest is just a circus!

I would love to hear feedback – please comment below with how social media etc has affected your decision to start or not start taking yoga classes.

*I have chosen not to use graphics in this post apart from the feature image, which is a statue in the Museum of Modern Art in Saigon.

 

lotus, meditation, yoga, selfies, instagram, yoga body, fitness industry