Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ordinary Bodies Do Yoga Too

In response to recent and various articles appearing around the yogosphere, I thought I would add my two ujjayi breaths to the discussion about yoga and its modern-day emphasis on being slim, calm and sexy. In particular, I want to support Jessica Powers (a fellow yoga and knitting enthusiast whom I met via the wonderful group on ravelry called Namaste Knitters). Jessica lives in New Zealand and, among other things, teaches yoga. She also does not fit the image of a "typical" slim, calm sexy yogini. And hooray for that!

She recently wrote an article for an online yoga journal called Don't Look at My Ass in Asana about body image and yoga. In it, she posted images of her practice, something she had never done before because she felt uncomfortable with how different she looked compared to, say, your typical Yoga Journal cover. I love her article and I love her photographs. She also posted more on her blog.

Inspired by Jessica, I decided to take some photographs of my own practice. Beyond breaking some barriers of ego and cultural stereotypes, I recommend this because it really helps to inform you about what is happening in various asana. The gap between what I thought I looked like and what the pictures revealed was very interesting! And if you have a place to post them, post them! When everyone sees ordinary bodies doing these wonderful, extraordinary things, then yoga will have taken a step in the right direction.

In any case, I roped Lucy in to being the photographer for the finishing sequence of asana for my practice. Although I am not necessarily larger than most people doing yoga, I certainly have more grey (read: white) hair and more stretch marks on my stomach and, as the photos revealed, cellulite on my arms. Jeez. Oh well. To grow old is the way of the flesh.

Here we go...only some of the asana are included. If you want to know the whole finishing sequence, there is a nice recap here.

Our cat, Minky, who might otherwise not look me in the eye all day long, suddenly develops an unrelenting love for me the second I step on my mat. Usually, I lock her out of the room, but she came in with Lucy, so she is the star of the show. Here she is blocking my hands from reaching their full potential in halasana (plow pose).

Urdva Padmasana (Upward-facing Lotus)

Pindasana (my hands should be bound here, and they usually are, but I was laughing too much between Lucy's and Minky's antics...see second to last photo for an explanation.)

Sirsasana (headstand). Note how far I am away from the wall! This is a major accomplishment for me. I am not so sure I am ready to do it in a crowded room full of people, but on the days when it works, it is great.

This is me falling out of sirsasana because a certain cat is brushing against my face.

Baddha Padmasana (Bound Lotus) and Yoga Mudra. I am trying to get my chin on the floor but I am not quite there yet. So close...

Padmasana (Lotus). Strong bandha practice!


Ok, here is the photo that Lucy called, "Mom pooping out her own head". It usually comes after halasana, but I saved it up special for last.

I have nothing left to hide. This makes up for all the photographs I have put up of Finn and Lucy through the years. We are even now.

Here is the picture Lucy took of herself. My photographer - thanks. I think.


dorinalouise said...

hello robyn, i love your yoga photos. they're inspiring . . : ) i should go and do my shoulder stand now and have jack try and lick my face at the same time. yes, pets just love to get into our faces when we're suddenly on the same level with them . .

Anonymous said...

Robyn, I LOVE this! Your Padma feet are lovely, that's one of those movements that my body simply isn't made to do safely, so I enjoy other people practicing it. Tell your photographer she did an excellent job - Urdhva Padmasana is such a great image! And she made me smile and laugh with you 'pooping out' your own head...a good thing as I got up a grumpasaurus this morning!

And, for those looking for a place to post their non-Yoga Journal asana fantasticness - Yoga Dork has a gallery going to shadow the YJ cover model talent search. You should totally send in one of your images!

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Patti Blaine said...

Robyn. Forget the yoga, I *love* your hair! Gorgeous. :) And the yoga is pretty cool too.

Robyn said...

Jessica, I removed one post because, for some reason, your comment double posted. Thank you for checking this out! And I just might post one to Yoga Dork!

Patti - oi...the hair. I think it looks awful but in the spirit of not succumbing to cultural stereotypes, I didn't mention it. It looks better when I haven't been doing yoga for 1.5 hrs. But thank you, my dear!

Taos Sunflower said...

OMG, Robyn, you're awesome. I know all that you do takes a lot of hard work. Good for you. You're an inspiration!