Yoga every day? But I’m just too chunky!

Yoga LeedsLike most women, and an increasing number of men, I have had issues regarding body image over the years. In a media saturated society where airbrushed images of waif-like women are the norm, it’s hard not to feel chunky by comparison and almost impossible not to compare. Throw into the mix postures such as marichyasana D where there are so many limbs in the way that as soon as you’ve the slightest bit of a belly or have the good fortune to be blessed with boobs you stand little chance of getting into the pose and still be able to breathe. (This Google image search will give you an idea!! LINK

See, Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga was developed for pre-pubescent boys, the sequence really doesn’t take on board the lumps and bumps of your average thirty something female. (Here’s a great article on the history of modern yoga from the Yoga Journal if you want to know a bit more LINK

And here’s me thinking that yoga is meant to help us feel positive? If I’m honest, there are times when I begin to dread the marichyasana sequence. I can feel myself get more tense as I come to the end of Janu sirsasana. My mind starts working overtime judging and narrating how well I will be able to get into the postures which of course makes me more tense and marichy D almost an impossibility. I even told my teacher I hated it the other day.

Often when I am practicing with my teacher I get adjusted into the posture and as he pulls me forward to help get the bind he’ll talk to me about the issues I have with this part of the sequence. Recently, when I was struggling more than usual (thoughts of too many holiday crisps and beers were filling my head) his advice was to label the internal monologue (that ego telling me I can’t again) ‘talking’ and simply let it go. He got me into the posture and told me to stay there until I could relax. Relaxing with a foot digging into your abdomen and your arms twisting around your back in a most unnatural way is really bloody hard. But over time I’ve come to realise that the first thing I have to let go of is the chatter, the ego. It isn’t my belly being in the way, or my stupidly stiff shoulders that stop me letting go. It’s my over-thinking. I’m really rather good at over-thinking. I think (!!) the secret though is to learn not to engage with the critical voice but instead focus on our breath, relax and smile. Easier said than done, granted. But a regular yoga practice definitely helps. I feel healthier, toned and strong when I’ve been on the mat and that begins to transfer to my head, helping me to feel more positive about myself.

(A very good friend of mine told me another good tip for marichy D. Her secret is to scoop your belly round to the side before putting your foot into lotus. I’ve not quite managed the technique I have to say but it makes me laugh every time I think of it which helps!)

The truth is my boobs and belly are often likely to get in the way. I’m probably always going to struggle to get into marichy D (though I am getting better at the Lindsay Gale stomach shift, cheers ears!). But I’m learning to care less. I mean, who wants the body of a pre-pubescent boy apart from, well, a pre-pubescent boy? I love my boobs. And my belly. And I love marichyasana D (honestly, I do really) because it’s taught (and continues to teach) me a very valuable lesson: let go. Enjoy. Breathe.