Friday, March 16, 2007


your bones on yoga

i'm loving yogamad's posting on hips. too few yoga teachers acknowledge these kinds of important and mostly hidden differences among students.

as everyone who knows me can attest, i come from a russian heritage -- and i have the physical structure to show for it. i'm taller than the average woman (my mother is 5'9" and my father is 6'3"), with broad shoulders and wide hips.

if history had gone differently, i'd be one of those women in a nina vatolina poster, a soviet giantess staring off into the glorious coming socialist dawn or something.

as a result of these mastodon bones, there's just some stuff that's not gonna happen for me in yoga poses. but that's cool, because that's who i am.

this reflection came into play just the other day in yoga class, where the assisting teacher, a wisp of thing scarcely 5 feet tall who is a modern dancer/performance artist, wandered over and in sotto voce demanded that i move my leg in a certain way.

"i'm sorry," said, "that's really not gonna happen with that knee." again she repeated her "correction."

"i understand what you want me to," i replied as nicely as i could, "but no thanks." since unfortunately as yoga students we frequently meet poorly trained yoga teachers who don't us well, we have to know ourselves well.

that so many teachers come from dance backgrounds -- where starving yourself and working in pain are considered so normal as to be below comment -- it's crucial that as we practice our yoga, we have clear view as to what is happening with our bodies.

at the same time, it's amazing how much we are capable of learning. i certainly would never have thought that i would learn to stand on my head after the age of 30, but i did!

so we have to honor our bodies, but not let our pre-conceptions overly limit ourselves, you know? ultimately this means we have to learn to trust ourselves and look inward for how we really feel, instead of how we felt yesterday, or how we think we should feel, or what the teacher tells us to feel.

we spend a lot of time telling ourselves who and what we think we are, but often, we are actually a lot more than that. this's one of the most important things a yoga practice allows you to discover.

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posted by fortune | 6:18 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 2 comments

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