I had the distinct pleasure of working with the Be Here Now teacher trainees this week. I love getting to work with this group because I learn a ton just by talking yoga with them. They ask great questions and they have valuable perspectives and wisdom to share.
This week, we were tackling the subtle art of demonstrating poses for your class. We talked about teachers who they have seen demo effectively and why those approaches were effective. We talked about the tips and tricks to demoing for your class without having to do an entire practice. And then it was time for the trainees to practice demoing with one another.
That was when a trainee shared, “Demoing brings up all of your body issues.” And all I could say was, “Yes.” Because that is a statement of fact. While yoga is not a visual art, like dance for example, demoing for your class is undeniably a visual means of teaching. There are expectations of how your body should look to effectively communicate a pose’s shape. This means people are looking critically at your body.
When I say critically, I don’t mean to be judgmental. I simply mean they are looking to you for guidance. For those of us who haven’t made peace with our bodies, this is an uncomfortable situation. Even if your students are simply looking to be guided, they are looking and you assume they are judging.
I struggle with the curves of my body. I was 11 when I gained the hips of a woman’s body. I was incredibly embarrassed to be the only tween wearing junior sizes while my friends were still in kids’. Since those early days, I have never truly come to terms with my lower half (see my previous post where I explain how I use my curves an excuse to not invert). So yes, there have been many classes when I doubted myself and wondered if the students thought I “look like a yoga teacher” enough to lead them. Translation: am I skinny enough?
This feeling has mostly subsided in my everyday teaching classes. This confidence is hard earned over hundreds of hours being in front of folks and leading them into yoga poses. But I did get a wallop of insecurity reviewing the photos Alex took for me to build this website.
Half moon pose and I have a long history of struggles. I couldn’t hold my balance in it for a very long time and I decided the culprit was my hips. “They are too robust to stack and open correctly” was the utter nonsense I told myself. So when I saw the picture of Half Moon pose I thought, “Goodness gracious my hips look so thick and not stacked at all!” But that is just my body. And my hips do a lot of work for me on the regular. I should really appreciate them for it and, in an effort to do so, I am sharing this picture with the internet!
If you feel insecure in yoga because you don’t look like an Instagram Yogi (no offense Insta Yogis because you inspire me to try new and fun poses), I am here for you. Your body can do yoga if you want it to do yoga. After all, if you just keep breathing you are doing yoga.