A guest blog post by Chantelle Shah-Poulin
With a full breath into my being, I sit. A long Inhale, the spacious pause, a deeper exhale, a witness to the exchange of pure life force energy within me…..beautiful, powerful prana.
Do I have a yoga body?
Is this even a question I am asking myself?
Have I been completely clueless to the presumptions or even expectations, if you will?
Have I been naive or blinded to the realism that this even exists?
In my own life….YES!!!
I truly believe deep down in my bones that any BODY with the ability to practice ANY type of physical asana or posture, is one who possesses a yoga body. Sitting, standing, kneeling, laying. This ancient, wisdom that has guided me through the last 15 years of my life. This amazingly, transformative practice that I wholeheartedly and continually absorb and with all of myself do my damn best to convey and interpret. Teaching bodies these timeless practices that I submerse in and repeatedly learn so that I show up to be my absolute best self and transmit through my teachings.
Do I have a Yoga body?
Being a teacher of yoga for nearly a decade now, I find myself caught like a deer in the road on a dark night, stunned by a sudden alien light beam coming toward me. I stop to ponder with a blank stare, what is this weird world I am in?
Going back to the whole “yoga body” thing.
I had the privilege to sit in on a yoga teacher training recently to be asked some questions and give some insight. I felt so humbled and blessed to have a student tell me that I was such an inspiration for them to attend a yoga teacher training. My heart expanding ten times in my chest and I had a silly smile growing from ear to ear, my eyes were beaming and filling with watery excitement as I listened to this woman tell me of how I became an inspiration to her.
She said that I was so strong and the fact that I was “curvy” gave her more confidence to become a yoga teacher. She held back some tears as she explained that she was curvy and I had given her hope.
Woah! Halt! Stop!
This was how I had inspired her? As my smile slowly shrunk back into my lips and my heart cracked into a thousand pieces, my once happy, watery eyes turned to saddened tears. I had to clench to hold back and I have to admit I was quite surprised that this was a true reason I had inspired somebody. It kind of hit hard like a ton of bricks and stuck with me for days, a heavy blanket of emotion choking me up inside.
If I am an inspiration to any person for any reason, I am happy and have done my job right. I am honored to give someone more confidence and it brings me so much joy. Yet here I sit with this funny taste in my mouth and begin to think back on the years and my journey of practice and teach.
I never thought about yoga and the need or desire to having a specific body type or that yoga portrays having a certain, typical body image. The whole practice in itself teaches us self love and acceptance and is definitely what I have gained by practicing it.
This is an actual thing though. There actually is a perceived body image type or idea out there that you have to be a specific weight, look, maybe even age to be an advocate of yoga or even just a practicing yogi.
As I start to look back on my journey, it starts to dawn on me. All of the popular “yoga brand” clothing that just didn’t fit right or still doesn’t fit at all. The studios that had a common “look” of teachers of where I did not get asked to teach at and I have never batted an eye to come up with a reason. I mean it doesn’t stop there. How about the hundreds of people that have said to me…”oh I can’t do yoga I am not flexible enough or I don’t own lululemons. Seriously! Yes! This is a thing an actual big thing in a world of weirdness and wow it is just lame.
If I could just fast forward the path for all of the individuals that have these misconceptions and show them a version of their future self that has broken down barriers, made space, found softness and lightness in a world that is so rigid, heavy, narrow and dark. Only then would they see why I have been so blinded to these ideas of having yoga bodies. We are all different bodies needing yoga for different reasons. Unfortunately we live in a time that is sped up and ultimately has began to diminish the organic nature of life. Yoga takes us into our present moment, back to the NOW, to the place between doing and undoing.
If I had a message to share with anyone feeling hesitant about starting a practice of yoga it would be that “yoga sparks a shift within you”. Start small with your breath, be kind and show love to yourself, pause in a moment, do something that challenges you or scares you and makes you feel alive inside.
Most importantly, let us be the change we need in the world, grow into change, energize life, make acts of peace, choose calmness of mind.
A yoga body? We all have one… just start a practice. Sit longer in silence, move more with breath, and invite in the spark to make the shift within you.