It’s been great to see a more body positive approach to Yoga bubbling up to the surface of late, showing out the bottom line inclusivity that Yoga truly represents.
So many practitioners, led mostly by women, are taking back their own power from the decades of media, advertising and fashion industries dictating ridiculous body size and shape standards. As a result of their tireless efforts, even the major Yoga print magazines, who have been guilty in the past of reinforcing lean-body stereotypes, are stepping back into line with Yoga’s highest values by printing larger body types for their cover shots. Of course, it would be great if we lived in a world where everyone felt able to join any Yoga class, but for the time being the advent of Fat Yoga, Curvy Yoga, Body Positive Yoga and Plus Size Yoga classes is a good thing, allowing more and more people to access a safe place where they can explore and enjoy the benefits of Yoga.
Yoga has no body shape. Yoga has no “ideal weight” or size. It starts wherever you are, and it goes wherever you want it to go. It doesn't care if you're heavy or slim, rounded or bony, or what any of your other physical attributes may be.
Equity Beyond Physicality
Body shape and size are only the start of Yoga’s deep inclusivity. To truly understand Yoga, we need to see that it simply doesn't care about any of your individual peculiarities or personal traits. Yoga doesn't give a damn about the colour of your skin, or your hair or your eyes. You can be from the east or the west, gay or straight, male or female, transgender or somewhere in-between or even everywhere at once, beyond definition. There's no advantage to being an athlete or a super-flexible contortionist, and likewise no disadvantage to being apparently bound by illness or injuries or other life circumstances. Yoga simply does not bother about these things, and will offer some level of help to anyone that wants to make their life better.
Far beyond physicality, Yoga is also indifferent to your state of mind or your beliefs. You can be calm, agitated, depressed or anxious, fearful or happy. You can be distracted or super-focused, or anywhere in-between. Every mental-emotional state that you can experience is a workable state, and Yoga will help you explore that and, if need be, find a way to take it in another direction.
Despite primarily evolving as a spiritual practice, Yoga doesn't care whether you're spiritual or religious. You can be a devout Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jew or Muslim, or a confirmed atheist. You can even just shrug your shoulders and admit that you don't really have a clue. If you have a particular faith, despite what those “in authority” might claim, Yoga never needs to be in conflict with that, and can in fact give you a personal, direct access to a deeper exploration of that existing faith without threatening it in any way.
The Open Doorway
Anyone can do Yoga. You just need to start right where you are. Yoga doesn't even need you to be moving towards a particular place. If you’d rather treat it as a simple health-improving movement practice, Yoga is just fine with that. If it’s just a means to lower your daily stress, to help you keep a handle on the world, that’s fine too. You just do whatever you can and see where it can take you.
There are seven billion bodies on this planet, and seven billion attitudes, psychologies and belief systems. But in Yoga there is one simple truth in its approach to life and living: Yoga is for everyone.