Yoga is for all – not just the super fit

The hardest yoga practice for me is the Sunday morning one, and this week was no different. It’s the one I struggle with most, as Sunday was traditionally my morning for lazing in bed and reading the Sunday papers, at least it was thus for me until I discovered yoga and then the pull of the yoga class was greater than the pull of my pillow. But it was also a struggle because 6 times out of 10 I will have had a few glasses of wine the night before and feel extreme guilt as I step onto my mat and breathe alcoholic fumes around the room.

This has meant that my weekends have changed somewhat and my Sunday morning yoga class does now have an influence on my weekend plans. However, this week, despite my protestations that I wasn’t going out on Saturday night, it happened almost by accident; well the Euros were on and the match was a hard one to miss.

It started off so well with me sitting in the back garden in full sunshine – itself a surprise! But I kept checking the internet for the score so when half time came I could hold back no longer and veritably skipped to a friend’s house to watch the second half. I took the necessary precautions of course – only half a bottle of wine was secreted in my bag. Well, I reckoned I couldn’t do much damage with that. But then half a bottle disappeared quickly and the empty vessel then morphed into a full bottle which had been nestling comfortably in the depths of said friend’s cupboard. Thereafter the demon took over.

It was a great night with great company and a lot of laughs but despite me coming home relatively early, Sunday morning brought a feeling of extreme lethargy and I just knew my balance would be hard to find! I’ve attended a few yoga classes on Sunday mornings after the Saturday nights before and to be honest I swore off them a long time ago. My balance was shot, and there is nothing more embarrassing than not even being able to hold your posture in a simple triangle pose.

I sometimes feel like a bit of a fraud on a Sunday so either eschew the fun of a Saturday night (and move all to a Friday) or fail to appear at my normal mat space on a Sunday morning. So that must mean I’m not a real yogi? Right? After all, most people’s view of a yogi is a non meat eating, non alcohol drinking, spiritual being, who wafts through life on a floating breeze of righteousness.  And that was my view until recently too, but now I am almost protective of my practice and my right to call myself a yogi, as yoga is for all.

Your yoga is your yoga. End of story. Not everyone has the same body type, flexibility, strength or balance. Not everyone has the same time available to afford a daily practice, or even the same amount of time each time they come to the mat. Some people can’t afford to attend a class and their practice is a solitary one on a mat in the garden. Some people have physical limitations and can’t hear the music or the instructions, or is able to see the teacher or others around them. Does that mean they can’t practice yoga? Of course not.

Your practice is your practice and your yoga is what you can do, want to do, and what it means to you. Just because you can only squeeze in half an hour every three days and even then have to do it alone, stretched out amongst the childrens’ toys whilst they sleep, or can only do armchair yoga as your body has started to let you down as you age, doesn’t mean it is any less meaningful than that of the super-fit woman on the front of those yoga magazines doing a perfect handstand against a spectacular background.

Your yoga practice is your time for you. You can push away all the worries of the world and give your mind over to yourself. You can find your inner peace and surrender to the discovery of balance and strength within your body. Yoga has a different look and feel for everyone and even if you feel that you and your yoga does not conform to the ideal, you are still a yogi. You still have the right to practice your yoga and you have every right to call yourself a yogi if you find joy, serenity, peace, wisdom, balance or whatever you personally do it for.

So whilst I don’t advocate going to a yoga class with a hangover, and is something that I am yet again swearing to myself I will never do again, I do advocate that everyone has a right to practice yoga in their own way, and the right not to feel inferior just because they don’t conform to what they see as the norm or the ideal of a yogi. So, go do yoga your way, live your yogic life your way, and be proud to have found a space for yoga in your life, because once you find yoga, then yoga has a way of finding you and enhancing your life in ways you didn’t know was possible.

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