I nearly fell out of my down dog the other day. I was happily in the moment and all things yogic when I noticed that the skin on my outer armpit was hanging down. I spent the next five breaths wondering how to iron out that crease. The next assault came later when in shoulderstand my belly skin seemed to float down in a suffocating way to my nostrils. What the hell was going on? A quick readjustment of my leggings sorted it out but left me wondering, is my arse too big for this asana?
I have a teacher who says at the beginning of class ‘look around now and then you will be done for the class’. Yes look around, look in the mirror, check out your butt, check out someone else’s butt, do it all now then get back to yoga. Here are some questions I have lovingly received as a teacher and student.
Will yoga help me lose weight?
Sure why not. Anything that moves the body and makes you sweat and flow will increase your metabolism and muscle density ( which in turn burns more calories). It will improve your digestion and food absorption. The real weight loss though comes from a change in your relationship to your body. It makes you think more about what you put in your mouth and when. It makes you want to eat a healthier diet. You want to practice on a near empty belly as well, it makes your practice lighter and so the blood can flow to the organs and muscles instead of being tricked into digestion. And if any of you practice with me at Porirua did you notice that you always look at the Macdonalds sign? Have any of you had Macdonalds since then? It’s like the detractor dristi. The gaze of commitment to self righteous healthiness.
Will Yoga give me a better body?
I think so, I think it will give you the best body you could have for you.Yoga will shape your thighs, give you a strong core because the exercises are done in context and I think make your posture better which in turn makes you look better.Just as a personal example I spent much of my last 20 years doing high impact and weight lifting type group fitness. I thought that when I started doing yoga that I would have to keep this up. But I couldn’t be asked so just kept doing hot power yoga. Now one and a half years on my body is probably stronger than it was before all the weight lifting. I feel my heart thumping when I do the flow, so I know that I am keeping heart fitness. But overall I feel really really strong, like I could really do some damage.
How often should I practice yoga asana to stay fit and healthy?
I think as with any exercise regime it should be at least 3 times a week. I try to do it every day but I alternate softer sequences with power. Resistance is your number one enemy in yoga or anything. The less you want to do it the more you should try. If you feel resistance welling up unroll your mat and sit in child’s pose for a few minutes and then see what arises.
What can I do to stop making party noises while practising?
Firstly face the fact if you move your body in yoga sooner or later you will emit some sound that frightens you and small children. I have a fear of inversions that I will suck so much air up me that when I come down I will be blown away. There is also wind relieving pose which comes with it’s own set of noise emitting problems. I have read and tried the technique of squeezing in my pelvic floor and mula bhanda ( the dark bhanda) to alleviate internal combustion and it seems to work quite well. As Billy Connelly said of doing yoga ‘ I discovered gas in me that I didn’t know had been building up over the last 20 years’ Noises will come out of your body, change your attitude to them, see them as a drama being released out of your body that prior to the event had been a blockage you needed to clear.
You can’t take yourself too seriously with your butt in the air. It doesn’t look big, it looks enlightened.
Celebrate your practice, your body and all it’s imperfections, practice like no one is watching.
ps if you wonder about us yoga teachers looking at you, it never happens other than in a physical kind of doctor way, kind of like an asana technician.