Today I would like to share with you a site and video from a wonderful yoga teacher who is one of the leaders of the body inclusivity movement in the yoga world: Body Positive Yoga from Amber Karnes. Karnes gives thought-provoking and norm shattering insight on how the language and approach to poses we often use can be limiting to people living in larger bodies. Many of her principles apply to those of us (myself included) who live in less flexible bodies.
In a video she recently shared, Karnes breaks down some modifications for virasana (hero’s pose) that also could be used for vajrasana (thunderbolt pose). Too often yoga teachers (myself included) assume that what is easy for us is easy for everyone in the class. I’ve been to many classes in which students were asked to sit in one or the other of these poses without discussion of how to make them accessible for those with joint pain or other discomfort.
Yoga can be a great way to challenge the body but pain in a pose is the body telling us something is wrong. Modification of poses is not about weakness or inability, it is a way for us to find the balance between effort (Sthira) and ease (Sukham) in poses and create a sustainable practice. As yoga teachers, it’s important to know ways to help our students achieve that balance. As students, it’s important to let our teachers know when we experience pain in a pose.
In peace and light,