Curious yoga

Curious yoga

And so here we are.  A new year.  That is, an arbitrary demarcation in time, whatever that is.  A time of new year’s resolutions, the classic ones being to lose weight and get fit.  To enact all of those healthy habits we know about it.  Practice every day.

For many years I pulled away from these kinds of resolutions and goals and explored a softer approach.  I unravelled self-judgement about achieving, body image, eating, what I am ‘doing’ or ‘not doing’.  It took time and practice.  The softening is ongoing, really.

This year I actually do feel resolve.  I suspect that feeling resolve from the inside-out is a healthy way to approach health and movement.  Of course, the psychological snap-back about depriving yourself of pleasurable food or the laziness that you love (at least a part of you does!) and resisting the grind of self-discipline come to bear against the resolve.  I feel that true resolve from the core has the best chance against these forces.

Plus, of course, even though it feels like it, it isn’t actually a war between these forces or parts of the psyche.  Warring against my lazy parts and indulgent parts and chocolate-loving parts and ‘ugh what can I actually cook?’ parts is unkind.  They are part of my human package.

(And what is ‘better’, anyway?  What is ‘progress’? What is ‘achievement’?)

Perhaps you can tell that I recently started following a whole heap of yoga people on Instagram:)

There is an amazing sameness to photos and videos of young women, mostly very slim, very flexible, who are very highly achieving advanced asanas.  Usually variations of strong backbends and handstands.

I don’t know what the experience of doing this is like for these people.  It may, as they write that it does, open up their hearts, their determination, their sense of progress and expanding their boundaries.  They may be attaining mastery and smashing limits.  Excellent.

Looking at these images in this culture is not neutral, though.  The ways that we are all conditioned to look at women’s bodies still applies to these yogini’s images.  The ways that these slim, flexible, contorting bodies can make a viewer feel discouraged about their own body and the possibility of exploring yoga or embodiment exists.

So.  We are on Instagram.  We are a part of the yoga ‘industry’.  We are aiming this year to hit our target of opening up a studio and be even more closely involved with people and their bodies.  We have goals for our business and our lives, and I do feel resolve about looking after my body-particularly as I have two strong chronic medical conditions and I am a parent.  However-

My resolution builds from the inside out.  I pull focus away from the double picture of how I look refracting from the outside in.  I have always been interested in the internal experience of embodiment, such as the freedom I sometimes feel inside when dancing.  Even growing up doing ballet, jazz, and ‘modern’ dance, I was still engrossed with the internal experience.

As an adult my explorations with different kinds of movement, embodiment, body work, and yoga have amplified the exploratory instinct I have.  Even when I am not doing much or practicing much or performing or teaching, I know that my curiosity is a strength.  I feel my buttocks on the seat right now, how flesh responds to the impact of the seat and gravity, the hinges of joints and the dance to keep my shoulders relaxed while typing.

Aesthetics and form can be their own exploration, of course.  The internal experience is the essential one for me, though.  I like considering the aesthetics of the yoga gear that we sell and the possibility that others might find pleasure in this.  The main thing, though, is that I hope they explore their own embodied riches when wearing those leggings or standing on that mat.

So this year I bring both curiosity and resolve into our business, as I continue to with my body.  And perhaps it will even radiate through our images on Instagram.

Happy new year x

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