Bodily Autonomy

I’ve been in a state of disbelief about the removal of protection for reproductive rights. I suspect many of you feel the same, though if you land on the other side of this issue, I’m not interested in persuading or changing your mind. My focus remains on yoga. 

In the midst of my rage and sadness, I’ve begun to consider bodily autonomy. I believe bodily autonomy and sovereignty is an essential piece of yoga philosophy.

Our yoga practice is never just asana (poses). Maybe as part of your practice this week you can find some time to reflect and ask yourself, in what ways have you benefited from bodily autonomy. In what ways have you been restrained from exercising this autonomy? In what ways do you trust yourself, in what ways do you lack trust in yourself?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the fair amount of body privilege I possess: I’m healthy and able-bodied. I’m of average attractiveness, I fit into the assumptions about the typical, modern yoga student (petite, white, fairly flexible, not yet on the other side of the hill, age-wise). This privilege has provided me with plenty of access to teaching and doing yoga.

But, I’ve been shamed and pressured about my practice, about my short-comings in asana. I’ve been twisted deeper into poses that I wanted to avoid. I’ve been told to do, and not do, asana based on my menstrual cycle. I’ve been literally pushed too deep into Warrior II, resulting in a flare up from a past injury.

These little incidents are trivial compared to being denied access to reproductive autonomy. But, my role is that of a yoga teacher, so from your practice, I suggest time to reflect on how self-trust, bodily autonomy, psychological sovereignty and body privilege have impacted your yoga.

The invitation is extended to use whatever comes to the surface for you to inform and enlighten your practice & how you engage the world around you.



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