by Liz Dubois, RYT

One of the misconceptions about practicing yoga is that you have to be flexible before you step into a yoga studio. That would be like expecting someone to know how to Tango before they began dance lessons. We all have a story and my yoga story begins with doubt, anxiety and fear, and evolves to acceptance and gratitude.

My yoga journey began in college, where I dabbled in yoga at an all women’s fitness studio. After graduation, Jane Fonda videos helped me continue moving my body while I lived in a remote Alaskan village. As I moved from one state to another I continued to stretch with yoga DVD’s. At the time, I thought only of the physical aspects of yoga, using it as exercise for my physical body. There were very few yoga studios at the time and I was not confident enough to enter a yoga studio. After all, I believed I was not flexible enough, tall enough or skinny enough.

The other day, I was looking through old photos of myself and saw a fit, strong young woman, but at the time I didn’t feel that way about myself. I saw just the opposite, noticing all my “flaws”, big hips, belly, rounded shoulders….

Although we say yoga is for everybody, the media often shows tall, lithe, flexible bodies on the covers of magazines, in articles and on instagram. Although this is changing, the stereotype lingers. Recently I wrote to a popular yoga magazine and suggested they include a variety of body types in their articles and ads. Yoga leaders like Edyn Nicole and Jessamyn Stanley are women who are helping change the stereotypes, but our fears about not being __ enough (fill in the blank for yourself) lingers for many of us.

Over the years my body has changed, I’m a bit creakier, there’s more fat around my hips and middle and injuries affect how I move into some shapes. But what also has changed is that I stand taller, I accept what my body can do and I have become more curious and less judgmental of my self. I admit, sometimes I still peek at other people, ready to compare myself to them, but then I stop, take a breath, and come back to me, my body, and let go of the comparison.

Yoga is a practice, a blending of the mind and the body. When I step onto my mat my breath allows me to be present, I choose options that are best for me that day, and find gratitude for this body that carries me through the world.

The beauty is that as we practice yoga we become more flexible and stronger, not only in our bodies but in our minds. If you feel you are not __ enough, I encourage you to take that first step, that leap of faith and walk into Embodied Directions and see where your yoga journey can take you.

Yoga is a practice and with the support of our yoga community you have the opportunity to grow in ways you never imagined.