|91 years old. That's what's up.|
Today I came across an article about a nonagenarian named Bernice who is being touted as the "world's oldest yoga teacher" by the Guinness Book of World Records. It got me thinking about the need for yoga role models like Bernice to rally support for the practice in the yogic minorities to which they belong. We don't just need people like Bernice to be out there teaching, though. We need a diversity of images of what Yoga Is to bring people beyond the current assumptions and stereotypes. Intrigued by this idea, I began spelunking around the interwebs and came across beautiful images and stories outside of the typical yoga culture. Here are a spattering of them to give you an idea of what Yoga Is...
|Meera, the Celestial Big Yoga Singer|
Also working is this area of yoga is the indomitable Abby Lentz of Heartfelt Yoga. She founded HeavyWeight Yoga which is "especially designed for full-bodied people allowing for complete stretching and body renewal" and is "about the 3 A's: awareness, acceptance and affection." Her style is easy enough for people with no prior experience and she gently encourages students to push to a place of "sweet discomfort," to work their edges and expand what they are capable of in their bodies.
|Nikki (on the right) as a great tree|
|Class with Project Air Founder & Director Deirdre Summerbell|
|Yoga joy at Project Air.|
|The Dhamma Brothers|
|Asana in Mexico.|
It is deeply refreshing and inspiring for me to look at everything that yoga is and can be in reality, as opposed to the sterile, skinny, whitewashed image perpetuated by yoga publications and companies. Let's allow yoga to be a celebration of ALL human forms and ALL physical realities, regardless of skin color, economic and social standing, criminal record, weight, age or level of flexibility. I will leave you with this photo of the prisoner-initiated yoga program in Illinois, and a quote from its first teacher, inmate and yogi, Bartosz Leszczynski:
|“Yoga is the best classroom for everybody, no matter who you are. Whether you’re a saint or a sinner, no one makes any judgments.”|
Ideally, wouldn't that be the case? THIS IS YOGA.