As a bigger bodied Yogini of color I constantly find people telling me that they can’t do yoga. Just this morning, while I was accompanying my Mom to a doctor’s appointment, her blood pressure was high. I asked her to start meditating. She sat quietly and started breathing slowly. They took her blood pressure again and it began to drop right before our eyes. The power of the breath can be amazing.
The nurse in the office commented to me that she could not do yoga or meditate. “I can’t bend like a pretzel and my mind won’t shut down” she said. I told her I could help. I told her you don’t have to be flexible, thin or young, contrary to what you see everywhere. I said to her can you breathe? She said yes? Do you want to be more relaxed? She said yes. Do you want to lower your stress? Are you willing to learn something new? She said yes, and I said that is all you need to do yoga.
I think we do a huge disservice to our culture, and to each other, when we only post yoga images that are limited to thin, young, straight and white yoga practitioners. Popular yoga publications cater to an elite market that really only represents a tiny fragment of the population. We marginalize everyone else and deter them from trying a practice that may change their lives. We glamorize yoga as ways to look like celebrities and have a better butt, but we miss the essence of the practice. Yoga is about getting to know yourself and communing with the divine. As a culture we are over worked and highly stressed. We need tools to help us cope with our everyday lives. Yoga can be this tool if we open it up to everyone. In order to do that, we need to move beyond the stereotypes. Why not post pictures of everyone doing yoga?
All body types’ genders ages and colors do yoga. The practice was developed by brown people in India and it has been hijacked by western culture. This is absolutely unfair. It’s time everyone to tell advertisers, media and society that this is not acceptable. Yoga is for all of us. If we want to be the change in the world we have to start with ourselves. Be a part of the change; support inclusion in yoga.