Our exploration into the 8 limbs of yoga has brought us now to what many of us think of when we hear the word yoga: asana, or the yoga poses themselves.
I could probably start 1000 sentences with “Here’s what I love about yoga,” but one of them would definitely include “it doesn’t start with asana.”
Where It Does Start
As we’ve discussed, the path of yoga begins with the yamas & niyamas. In other words, we get our personal, internal, relational foundation in place first, and then we move into the poses.
I think this speaks volumes.
It makes concrete what you may hear yoga teachers sometimes (or often) say: it’s not about the poses. Yes, the poses are important — they connect you with your body, they can empower you, some days they feel really, really good.
But they’re neither the start nor the finish.
They’re a stopover, an exploration, a check-in, an experiment, an access point.
Yoga Truly Is for You
What this tells me is that talk about “yoga for every body” isn’t just new-age BS. It’s actually what yoga lays out for us; it’s what yoga welcomes us into.
By having asana in the middle of the path, and closer to the beginning than the ending, it lays breadcrumbs on the trail for those of us (lots of us!) who want to hinge our yoga “success” or “failure” on our ability to do or not do particular poses.
Because if we follow those breadcrumbs, over and over, we find a really different story. A story that doesn’t let us off the hook, regardless of our shape, size, age, ability, etc.
Because this story of yoga tells us that connection with the body is really what it’s all about. Not what pose you “can” or “can’t” do, but rather the ability to connect with your body in some way through movement and breath, even if your yoga looks like a few deep breaths in bed. Even if your yoga looks like Pincha Mayurasana. Even if your yoga looks like stepping onto your mat for the very first time. Even if your yoga looks like daily, unflagging practice.
What this tells me is that yoga is for all of us, so it doesn’t really matter so much what our asana looks like. It’s the effect and benefit that’s of interest, not the shape of the pose.
If you’ve been looking for “proof” that yoga is for you, this is it. Passed down over time. Unchanging, even if if it feels like it when our current cultural expectations are laid over it. Truly designed to help you connect with you, no matter what your body looks like or what it can do.
I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty darn empowering.