(FOUNDER OF RLY)
I began practicing yoga almost ten years ago – purely to get arms like Madonna. Yeah. Not for spiritual enlightenment. Or inner peace. Or even because I wanted to be a better person. I wanted Madge’s biceps and I had heard somewhere that she got them through a thing called ‘Ashtanga Yoga’.
So I went. And I hated it.
I thought I was going to die in my first Downward Dog. My Triangle Pose had the tone and refinement of a bit of Toblerone left out in the sun. And trying to stand on one leg was so frustrating I wanted to punch someone.
But I kept going.
And so yoga and I began this long, sometimes dysfunctional relationship. We have had our differences but despite our emotional rollercoaster, yoga and I decided to make it official. In 2007 I qualified as a yoga teacher. Since then I’ve taught internationally, working with all sorts of people; from those who have never attempted anything yogic, to folks who can become a human pretzel at the drop of a yoga mat.
But these days I’m angry about yoga for different reasons. And it’s not because I hate back bending (even though I still do). I’ve been increasingly p*ssed off with the portrayal of ‘yoga’ as something you can only do if you’re female, skinny, dressed totally in Lycra, standing on a beach/in front of a sunset/next to a temple, love eating nothing but kale etc. The promotion of these images does nothing but fuel perceptions that only a certain type of person can do yoga.
I also became more and more aware that the qualities I had previously seen as holding me back from being a kick-arse teacher were actually things that made me a kick-arse teacher. I’m NOT naturally bendy, so every pose I can do I’ve had to really work for and I don’t think my feet have any intention of ever going anywhere near the back of my head. I don’t have 2 hours every day to spend on a yoga mat, I really like drinking wine and singing power ballads, and I don’t want to change my name to Moonflower.
I’m very much a real person, trying to incorporate yoga’s amazing teachings and practices into her real life, finding out how I can be happier and healthier, and I figured that there are probably a few more people like me out there too.
Yoga is for EVERY BODY. All you need is a desire to feel better than you do. You need to be curious about how you can make that happen. And you need to have a sense of humour (after all, it’s only yoga).
So I have one question for you – do you want to feel RLY good?