Last time I wrote about a pose that comes quite easily to me, that helps me find my peace. This edition of my diary considers a pose that is one of the easiest to do, Balasana, or Child’s Pose, but can be deceptively challenging to practitioners who, like me, were quite overweight when they began their practice. For a fat person like me, it can be intimidating to walk into your first yoga class. Intellectually, I know everyone is critical of themselves, especially in a society like ours. Even thin people often don’t think they’re thin enough, or that they’re too thin. We’re all insecure about our appearance in some way. But the ‘classic’ image of someone who practices yoga 99.9% of the time is one of a slim, muscular, flexible female. While googling images for this post, there was one of an overweight person performing Child’s Pose, out of hundreds.
Although everyone I’ve met in yoga class has been kind and accepting, that first step is a tremendous one. And when a pose like Child’s Pose comes along, you think to yourself in relief, “Okay. I’ve got this.” Because it helps as a mental exercise to be able to accomplish at least one pose well, especially when you’re a beginning. Except that, no, this isn’t going to be easy at all. Because as soon as you crouch down and look between your legs, you realize that your thighs don’t touch your calves. It’s not easy to fold your body together when you’re overweight, to make yourself small enough that your forehead can touch the mat while your butt meets your heels. Let’s not even talk about taking a deep breath in this pose–your abdomen’s practically in your throat. And if you’ve got large breasts… Well. One of the good things about being a curvy girl *is actually a bad thing when doing this pose*!
All this to say that, at first, this pose hit me where it hurt, both psychologically and physically. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Ten years on from that first yoga class, I love the pose. It’s the clearest sign of my progress in my practice because, even though I’m still no one’s definition of skinny, the heels of my feet have now met my butt. Thighs and calves have a bit of a thing going on. My forehead and the mat are totally tight. Breathing is still a challenge, but I’m getting there. I can actually be comfortable in the pose now, release and give over to the powerful feeling of being small.
Submission. Like fat, it’s considered a negative in our society. A sign of weakness. A lack in your character. But that is, once again, the beauty of yoga. Because to be in Child’s Pose is mindful submission. It’s the yoga equivalent of standing in a valley and staring up at the river, the forest, the mountains, the sky, the immensity of nature, the world, the universe. It’s acknowledging the forces beyond our control and giving yourself over to them willfully. It’s admitting that you won’t always have the answer, know the right thing to do, be able to guide yourself through life without seeking help from others. You’re a seashell–small, but open. Ready for the ideas and insights to pour in.
It’s a humble pose. In the age of me, me, me, social media, reality TV, the selfie, entitlement, putting people on blast for taking even a half-step wrong, etc, we could all use a bit more humility. The opportunity to listen without judgment. To explore ideas different to our own patiently and respectfully. To open ourselves to learning instead of thinking we already know it all. *I* certainly need to be reminded of all these things on a regular basis, and that’s the reason why I’m constantly inspired while doing Child’s Pose.
If you practice, what does the Child’s Pose mean to you? Join me in a month for the next instalment of my yoga diary.