Thursday, May 5, 2011

How yoga helps me appreciate my body type

I'm a pretty idealistic (read: unrealistic) girl who spends the majority of her day fantasizing about alternative realities (precisely why I need yoga, Buddhism teachings, and Eckhart Tolle to help bring me back to the "Now"). The body type I dream to possess is tall, slender, lithe, with mile-long model legs and narrow, dainty feet that fit into store display size 7 strappy sandals. Something that looks like this model. Yes, I want to look like a human clothes hanger that may be blown away on a windy day.

In reality, my genetics have given me a long torso, relative short legs (I usually have to hem all pants that I purchase or buy the "ankle length" jeans), large ass, thunder thighs, ultra-wide size 9 feet that cannot fit into half the shoes I try on in stores (most shoes do not have an "extra wide" option). Strappy sandals are out of the question for my feet. Skinny jeans will never be part of my wardrobe. This is quite depressing. Luckily yoga is helping me discover some advantages to aspects of myself I normally despise with vengeance.

Below is a list of body parts that yoga is helping me appreciate.

Short legs - facilitates wrist binding in paschimotanasana C.

I actually would rather have long model legs and never be able to bind in this pose. It's not like any time I have to spend the money to hem my too-long jeans I can just drop to the floor, demo the pose and get a discount. It makes me laugh when people who do have the skinny-jeans ready gorgeous long legs express genuine frustration that they can't do this pose. Seriously, appreciate your gorgeous legs that people admire in awe whenever you're not in an Ashtanga yoga class! But I guess that goes the same for me. I should enjoy the rare opportunity in my life when I can gloat about my ability to bind my wrists as a direct benefit from possessing stubby legs.

Meaty gluts - provides cushioning and facilitates balance for navasana, upavistha konasana b, ubhaya padangusthasana, and urdhva mukha paschimottanasana

My skinny shalamates with tiny bums were complain about tailbone pain in these poses. I tried rolling slightly forward and back, tilting my pelvis in various angles and found myself unable to have my tailbone make contact with ground due to the amount of meat cushioning my derriere. Despite the fact I envy small bums I am very happy not having tail bone pains doing these poses.

Fat calves - facilitates landing after supta konasana. (From this pose to this pose)

I just learned this pose recently. The teacher told everyone to hyperextend their legs and land on their calves. The sounds of everyone else's heels banging against the ground made me and my teacher cringe. This is about the only time in my life I appreciate having fatty calves (and hyper-extendable knees). Normally I try not to look at my calves. If I unfortunately notice them, I stare at them with hatred, secreting wishing my laser-sharp gaze would melt the fat. Alternatively, maybe if I massaged them hard enough the fats would break off and get metabolized. This is wishful thinking by the way.

Thunder thighs - it's a little difficult to come up with reasons to love these things. They serve to hinder kukkutasana and binding in supta kurmasana. Hmm... maybe they make binding in marichyasana C more comfortable (again, cushioning effect)? Forward folds are also more comfy because my belly gets to lay on cushy meat rather than bony legs? Wow, I'm really stretching to make up reasons to love my thighs. Thunder thighs are hard to love.

I'm trying hard to work with the body type I've been given by my genes. My arms will never look good in Kate Middleton's lace-sleeve styled tops, but Michelle Obama arms aren't impossible for me! Not that I really want arms like that; it's just the built is possible for my body type. My mom complains that I exercise too much and look like an athlete (not desirable for Asian women). Well, I simply don't have the skinny Asian body type. I have a choice between 1)long-term starvation, 2) exercising and looking muscular, or 3) not exercising and looking pudgy. Already tried the 3rd option and hated it; never succeeded with starvation (I think I would need 24-hour manned surveillance), so it's number 2 for me! Going to yoga class in a few hours!

p.s. Check out Gisele Bunchen doing Urdhva Dhanurasana. Look at those mile-long legs. She's going to have so much trouble walking her hands all the way to her heels :D :D :D


  1. Meaty glutes- my personal favorite. Check out the title nine clothing cataloge. I'll challenge your girl to look as hot & happy as the ones on that spread..;-D

  2. Here's something that might make having Thunder Thighs a plus: At least one senior teacher that I know (hint: she is renowned for her monster backbends) has thighs that are, well, quite large. I don't know if you would consider them Thunder Thighs, but they are definitely not small. Of course, you will have to wait till you get to second series to really enjoy this advantage :-)

  3. Oh, and also, having short legs may make dropping back and standing up easier, since you have less distance to cover before you get to the ground. But of course, you will also need to get to the point where you are dropping back and standing up in order to enjoy this advantage :-)

  4. @SF, I don't get it.. are the Title Nine pants supposed to be flattering or are they just supposed to fit people with large bums/thighs? Yoga may not make my bums much smaller, but they do tone them and prevent spreading which is a good thing :D

    @Nobel: can't wait until I'm doing drop backs and intermediate series so I can appreciate large thighs more!! :P

  5. I don't believe in clothing that promises to hide/enhance or whatever. They fit and you feel good/pretty in them or they suck. I just wanted you to look at the body types compared to your fairy like fluttery girl..

  6. @SF: Oh, you mean look at the models... I totally thought you meant the clothes LOL :D Well the models certainly look healthier than most clothing models out there. Next step would be to hire models with slightly higher percentage of body fat (but still healthy and fit, just not as fit as these ones) :D

  7. I surprised with this sharing.I think it's helpful to everybody.
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  8. Hi Catherine, thanks for commenting! I wrote this post as a bit of joke. People start learning yoga wanting to lose weight and get that toned yoga butt. When they really get into yoga though, they become totally obsessed about "achieving that new pose"! People with awesome looking body proportions start wishing they had longer arms, smaller boobs and irrational things like that. Heck, I was jealous of all the petite people in class because I believed they had less body weights to lift in arm balances! But in regular life, I've never wanted to be petite. This post is meant to remind me to take a step back and celebrate the body type I have. I think everyone can find ways to appreciate their diverse body types through yoga!

  9. I love the humor and your great attitude of acceptance in this post...fantastic!!
    I'm short, with short arms, too much butt and too much boob...but very! I think the next time I'm sulking in mayurasana, when body type definitely adds to the challenge, that I'll reread this post!

  10. Thanks Christine! I think accomplishments in yoga poses do indeed make us feel more powerful and appreciative of our bodies. Even though you have trouble with mayurasana for now, think about all those other poses you can do with ease and others find impossible to do! (Though I probably need much stronger arms + lose some weight before I can pull that pose off myself :P)