Written by Angel (they/she)
Content Warning: I am going to talk about my own experience with body shaming, fitness based yoga and compare it to this experience.
I wasn’t going to go. I arranged for one of the board members to be the co-host (thank you for stepping up, you know who you are), just so that I didn’t have to go.
I used to love yoga. I discovered a very colonialized version of yoga when I was younger, and I love the way that sun salutations feel, the strength in my body was showcased by this very fitness based style of yoga. As I began to learn cultural appropriation, and the origin of yoga I was also learning to renavigate my own body, due to age, health conditions and such. My body had changed, and my compassion for myself was being impacted by internalized body shaming. I tried to get back into yoga, searching for a more mindful practice… My luck with this has not been great.
As I have aged (and as the ongoing pandemic related sedentary lifestyle impacted my body), I have found that many yoga instructors are just not aware of how to support bodies that are not at their physical peak. Yoga was HURTING me. And not just during, but for days after I would struggle to move without pain. The instructors said all the right things (listen to your body), while also making it clear that a GOOD BODY is one that can hold these poses, do these movements, and that the goal should be to strengthen and slim one’s body to meet these goals. The instructors were young, white, fit. They meant well, I am sure, but I could not find a class that worked for my body, or for my view that all bodies are good bodies and that we need to focus on feeling good, not size.
Plus, clothing optional? I do my best to have a supportive relationship with my body. I am comfortable being nude-but while doing yoga? All those poses? At least with clothing I can hide the jiggle from myself, and just concentrate on the sensation of the activity, right?
Having heard great things about Nav’s connection with yoga, I reallly wanted to try… so I went.
I wasn’t thinking about anything but the feel of the movements, the messages from my body. I was.. happy.
Nav hosted this session, and he brought with him an aura of acceptance. He talked us softly through each movement, supported our breathing. We flowed. We laughed. We sighed. Our bodies lengthened, softened and provided us support. As we held on to our toes, enjoying the freedom of infants in exploring our motions and emotions, we were free, content, peaceful. Even laying there, letting our bodies relax, my mind stayed with my body. Amazing.
So if you were curious, and wanted to check it out, I welcome you. Wear some clothes, or no clothes-whatever works for you. We have a few extra mats.
Thank you Nav. See you next class!