Yoga is for EVERY body
I truly believe that yoga is for every body – and that every body is a yoga body. Sadly, I haven’t seen too much of that in the media lately (looking at you Channel 5 – more on that in a minute!). Social media platforms are just as bad. Instagram is dominated by blonde, tall, slim and ridiculously flexible yogis doing crazily advanced postures. I am a big advocate of the benefits of yoga for every body, regardless of age, flexibility, strength, mobility, size or gender.
As a private yoga teacher here in Edinburgh, I have worked with people of all ages, sizes, abilities and with a huge array of health conditions.
I work with more men than I do women.
My clients range from kids up to retirees.
Students of mine who are suffering or recovering from health conditions (stroke, cancer, anxiety, joint problems and replacements to name but a few) have seen the healing power of yoga – and how much it can benefit them.
I wholeheartedly believe (and see in my clients) that yoga benefits people of all sizes, and that there is no such thing as a ‘yoga body’ – every body can do yoga!
It upsets me to think of all of the social groups that cannot easily access yoga classes. I make it my mission to make this practice readily available to everyone.
“How do I make yoga work for me?”
The less flexible
If I had a penny for the number of people who told me that they would love to do yoga but they can’t touch their toes…! My go-to answer is always the truth –
I could barely touch my KNEES when I went to my first yoga class!
As a kid, I had chronic hamstring tightness, with lots of knee problems as a result. I never thought I would be able to to get anywhere near my toes with straight legs. Of course, I was so wrong – after just a couple of years of yoga I could comfortably rest my palms flat on the floor.
My point to this story is that:
a) you will not be the first beginner who lacked flexibility (trust me) and
b) if you want to get more flexible, you are going to have to start yoga … !
I work with private clients with tight shoulders, hips, legs .. the whole range. Trust me, it will get better if you persevere!
The individual with longterm illness/injury/mobility issues
Private yoga classes, or group restorative classes, will be your best friends here.
In a private / 1:1 yoga environment you will be safe and supported, with 100% of the teacher’s attention. I always provide modifications and props in my private yoga classes in Edinburgh, so that all of my clients are super comfortable. The best thing about a private class (at least in my opinion) is that I will always teach at a pace that is comfortable for you.
Low energy? Let’s dial it back to grounded, relaxing and supportive postures to help you feel nourished.
Less able to move? Modified yoga postures or chair yoga are great ways to move without compromising on your current mobility
Long term knee/hip/back injury? I will always modify postures to keep you safe, while supporting and sometimes strengthening the injured area if appropriate.
The plus sized student
People of every size can (and should! and do!) practice yoga. I am a big advocate of Health At Every Size (HAES) – google it if you aren’t already familiar with it. If you are a beginner, join a beginners class, or book some private yoga classes where you can focus on getting to grips with the basic poses. A few of my private clients have found that certain poses can be quite hard on the wrists initially if you are carrying a little extra weight. Again, I will always modify postures as required.
If you don’t feel ready to join in a group class, there are some awesome online teachers like Anna Guest-Jelley or Dianne Bondy who specialise in yoga for curvier students. That said, pretty much every group yoga class I have been to has included people of all sizes and abilities so please don’t let the Instagram yoga culture put you off!
A rant about the media’s representation of ‘yoga bodies’….
As I said above, the media’s representation of who practices yoga is so skewed! In reality, yoga is for every body. Don’t get me started on the lack of representation of racial diversity in the yoga community either!
What really made me mad recently (and a lot of other people in the community too!) was the Channel 5 live show on TV the other week called ‘Hot Body Hot Yoga: Downward Dog‘. Channel 5 described the show as:
“Live yoga as a trained instructor tackles the stresses and anxieties of the nation by demonstrating different poses and the benefits they offer with the help of a cast of real British yoga enthusiasts”
I think it would be better summarised as:
“Live yoga as a trained instructor puts off anyone who doesn’t already have a 6 pack from trying yoga by demonstrating some unnecessarily advanced postures to make everyone feel inadequate. With the help of a cast of real British yoga enthusiasts.”
I mean, every single student in that filmed class is advanced, strong, able-bodied, flexible, Caucasian (with the exception of one mixed-race student) and like 10% body fat.
Maybe they were trying to inspire the nation, but in reality I just think they alienated the large majority of non-yogi viewers from ever trying a yoga class.
Have a body?
Go to yoga.
Questions? Haha. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. I would particularly love to hear from you if you have been put off yoga for any reason. Teaching (and converting) yoga skeptics is my favourite!