When I give my Yoga classes, I sometimes have people coming to me who are very ashamed of their body type. They wonder, “Will I ever be any good at Yoga? I do not look like those people do in the photos when they do their poses.” They have seen some picture of someone grabbing their ankle from behind their head and think that if they can’t do that, then they are no good at Yoga.
When Patanjali gave Yoga, he didn’t say, “Yoga is only for a certain body type.” He didn’t say, “You must be skinny or tall, flexible and small.” He didn’t intend for only people who could reach their ankles behind their ears to be able to find God. He made Yoga as a way for all humans to quiet their body, quiet their mind, and find through meditation insight into the true nature of life and the divine.
If you can breathe, I say you can do Yoga. Yoga starts with breath. If you can breathe in, and you can breathe out, Yoga is already for your body type. Now bring some consciousness into how you are breathing in and out. When you breathe in, where does that breath go? Does it go into your throat? Into your chest? Into your belly? How about into your legs, and into your feet?
Yes, I know that when you breathe, the physical air that you are breathing only goes into your lungs. But Yoga isn’t about the physical. It isn’t about where the molecules of oxygen or hydrogen go. And that is why I say Yoga is for every body type – because, in Yoga, the body isn’t what’s important.
We’ve forgotten that in this modern age of Yoga magazines and models and dancers turned yoga teachers. Yoga isn’t about the physical. It’s not even about fitness. Not physical fitness. It’s about connecting to your sense of the divine, and your own inner systems of intuition. When you look outside of yourself, to something external, you are not finding Yoga.
If you are flexible, that is good. It means you are relaxed. It means you are in a good position to listen to and sense all the subtle signs and signals happening inside your body – your God sense. So when you are breathing in, where does that breath go? And when I say breath, I mean, Prana.
Become sensitive to Prana in your body. Prana is your life force. It is the energy that makes you as an alive being. Western Scientists might say they cannot quantify Prana, and that it thus does not exist – and I say good luck to them – why are they expecting to be able to quantify the nature of the divine? They are the created saying that if they do not understand the creator then the creator does not exist. Hubris!
But then there are those more enlightened Western scientists who have had a sense of Prana, and respectfully tried to quantify it, and manipulate it, in order to give life and well-being to patients – such as William Reich, and his way of calling Prana “Orgone.” And such Western scientists have been silenced and worse. It is a great shame of our times that we show so little respect to the mysteries and those who honor them.
You do not need any expert, any scientist, to tell you what you are feeling in your body is real. It is between you and the divine. Feel that breath in your body, feel where the Prana it contains goes. Become sensitive to how it moves, and then learn how to move it around – in yourselves and others.
That is the true secret of living a good life. Yoking yourself to the divine through your sensitivity for Prana and life force. Being able to move it around inside your body, and other bodies, wherever you are and whatever you are doing. You can move it like a current in an ocean – you are the moon pulling the tide.
Yoga, as a physical exercise, comes after that. Doing the physical work is a way to tire your body, and tire your brain so that you are able to feel the Prana. You are not distracted by doing anything else. You are in a pose, and it is uncomfortable, and you keep sitting with it until the discomfort no longer bothers you anymore. Then you are ready to listen to Prana.
Start with simple poses suitable for your body type. Perhaps you will use a block, a wall, or other props. Use a chair. There are many good resources on restorative yoga poses and Yin yoga. You do not need to do sun salutations one hundred times in a row at one hundred miles per hour to be a good Yogi. You can start by sitting in a chair and twisting. Stand behind the chair, and bend over, holding onto the back. Lie on the floor, and bend your legs over the seat of the chair. This is all very simple.
Do this every day, and the harder poses will open themselves up to you. But you will have the good foundation of feeling the life breath of Prana. Find Prana in you, and you will find the divine. Then you will see that Yoga is not only for everybody type, it is for you.