Desire Yoga

Find your center. Know your strength. Thrive.


What Yoga Body? I’m Weighing in…


I’ve been sitting on this for a while. I’ve been conflicted about whether or not I should comment on the skinny yoga articles, the fat yoga articles, the yoga for every body articles…and I find myself finally sitting down to write this—unable to not comment on the issue of yoga and body image. I think this is the most appropriate place to address my thoughts since this volume of Lotus Petals: Lesson Guides to Deepen Your Yoga Practice concerns Asana. Asana means seat or posture, originally referring to the seat or posture taken for meditation. It has expanded to include a variety of postures which tone the body, calm the nervous system and teach breath awareness.

As a teenager, I weighed up to 175 pounds then lost much of it to weigh 135 pounds. Currently, I weigh anywhere from 145 to 150 pounds depending on the season, the time of day and other things. So, I am very familiar with body image issues. At this point in my life, I also understand coming to our mats to practice yoga is our chance to forget about the image of our body. We practice yoga in order to become familiar with our body and acknowledge it.

So, let’s take a leap into the rabbit hole. I’ll repeat here something you may have already learned. Yoga is not about your body. Yoga is about you. Through yoga, an individual has the opportunity to find their true self, the self that no one sees, their secret self. When we practice yoga, we move the body to get into the body, so we may eventually quiet the body and in turn our minds.

We move through our days so rapidly; we don’t even know where we are in space. It is a figure of speech, but it is also very literal when people wonder aloud, “Now, where am I?” Sometimes, we really just don’t know where we are in our day, in our lives or in our relationships. We move so rapidly we neglect to be mindful of those things, not through any fault of own, but through habit, conditioning and social expectations. Ineffectual habits, social conditioning and expectations build a fortress of neglect. We neglect one another, and we neglect ourselves.

As I mentioned before, with a yoga practice, we gain the opportunity to get into our bodies, to bring our complete awareness to bear on our movements, becoming focused on the present moment. This level of focus allows us get out of our heads. It allows us to slow and abandon the parade of thoughts rampaging through our minds without end. Ironically, when we sit for meditation or to simply relax and return to our thoughts, this same movement quiets and calms the mind imbuing us with a fundamental sense of well-being.

In our media laden society, we are inundated with pretty pictures of people doing beautiful asanas. The human body is a miracle. It is a working, living breathing evolving miracle, and these pictures are beautiful. However, they are not reality. Yoga is not always pretty. It is not always the nice neat categorical package promoted to consumers. Yoga is life. Yoga is awkward on occasion. Yoga can be messy. Yoga is sweaty. Yoga is sexy. Yoga is every thing that life is, because yoga is union. It is the integration of the mind, body and spirit. Yoga practice is grace filled; it is not always graceful. I have fallen on nose and my bum; I have stressed and strained muscles. My shoulder tweaks every now and then as I write this. The reality of yoga makes it a beautiful path of discovery.

This same reality is in part the beauty of the current ‘Yoga is for every body’ movement. However, as teachers and as practitioners, we cannot forget: yoga is not about the body. The body is a vehicle for our souls and yoga gives us the means to live happily with the bodies we have. When we practice yoga, we find our body’s capabilities and limitations while reshaping it and cultivating it to be the perfect space to house our beautiful souls. We practice yoga to annihilate the boundaries in ourselves and in our lives so we can recognize, explore and manifest infinite possibilities. So, when you think about your body and you look at the pictures in yoga magazines, on blogs, on Facebook and on Instagram, remember those pictures belong to the individuals taking that journey. Those bodies belong to those individuals and your body is your own; you get to write your journey however you choose.

Yoga is not about the body. The body is a tool. The body is a space for the priceless and rewarding work of freeing your soul.

From Lotus Petals: Lesson Guides to Deepen Your Yoga Practice, Volume I: Asana 

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What Is Your Intention?

As we enter each yoga practice, we may set an intention for it. Intentions shape the means and the methods we choose to accomplish our goals. They are an important part of our practice as we grow in our understanding of Yoga’s many aspects.

The opportunities for learning and exploration afforded us by setting intentions for our yoga practices are infinite. We may choose to center a practice around steadfastness in the face of difficulty and practice poses which encourage this virtue–the Warrior Poses and Chair Pose for example.


Reverse Warrior Pose

We may choose to focus on loving kindness toward ourselves and others spending more time approaching, holding and transitioning from one pose to the next–perhaps modifying poses we would usually fully express during our practice. An example of this, would be taking Extended Puppy Pose instead of Downward Facing Dog Pose.


Extended Puppy Pose


Downward Facing Dog Pose

Choosing not to set a specific intention and allowing a practice to emerge as you go through familiar poses is an intention as well; it is the intention of being present and listening to your inner voice.


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Harness Your Breath

As the breath goes, so go the body and the mind. Every state of being, every state of conciousness posseses a particular quality of breath: a quick inhalation denoting surprise or fear, the slow sigh of contentment, the widely varied patterns of breath which accompanies laughter, etc. The breath is the gateway to our mind and body connection.

Next time you find yourself in a not so great mood, try laughing out loud for a few minutes. Find your way to a good sincere belly laugh, a chuckle, a giggle. Then back off the laughter naturally. You’ll feel better. It works because your body and your mind will follow your laughing breath. Harness your breath.

Here are two quotes about the breath to wrap up the week:

You know that our breathing is the inhaling and exhaling of air. The organ that serves for this is the lungs that lie round the heart, so that the air passing through them thereby envelops the heart. Thus breathing is a natural way to the heart. And so, having collected your mind within you, lead it into the channel of breathing through which air reaches the heart and, together with this inhaled air, force your mind to descend into the heart and to remain there. ~Nicephorus the Solitary

The practice is simply this: keep coming back to your breath during the day. Just take a moment. This will give your mind a steadiness and your breath a gracefulness…. There’s so much to let go of, isn’t there? Your nostalgia and your regrets. Your fantasies and your fears. What you think you want instead of what is happening right now. Breathe. ~Rodney Yee, Yoga: The Poetry of the Body

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First We Breathe

My post on breath became a poem. Namaste.

Breath is the first marker of life.
Centering our awareness on the breath
begins our yoga practice.
Following the breath with our awareness
is the harbinger of mindfulness.
Mindfulness in the breath
leads to mindfulness in all things.
Mindfulness fosters equanimity.
First we breathe.

©Desiré Hendricks