I wrote a ten minute play in college about two gods in an office, who were assigned the task of collaborating to build the ideal woman for an already existing man. I suppose the play was a commentary about how I felt women were objectified in our culture, and I guess it also functioned as an outlet for my personal self-resentment at not having been the type of girl that boys ever fawned over. Please laugh with me when I admit that my favorite movie in high school was She’s All That, and please cheer with me when I announce that I no longer feel that way– about the movie or myself! I cannot solely credit yoga with these victories because a lot of my angst naturally faded as I grew up, but I can credit yoga as a resource in the process.
Mental and spiritual advantages aside, yoga is a practice that actually builds the perfect physical body.
Yoga trims the physique. No, I am not so immature as to say that the perfect body is thin and slender, but I will acknowledge that the perfect body does not carry vast amounts of excess weight. Yoga is active, so the muscles are engaged and the heart-rate is elevated, meaning that fat is being burned. Yoga is a viable means of manageable weight-loss, and a consistent practice bears a slimming result.
Yoga builds muscle. While yoga does not involve free weights or machinery, the body is still manipulating a good amount of weight—its own. That is nothing to ignore, considering that healthy adults, even the most petite, generally weigh over one hundred pounds. Through yoga, the body is lifting and balancing this mass from various angles and approaches, allowing the musculature to build comprehensively. The result is a body that is not only toned and strong, but proportional.
Yoga enhances flexibility. Yoga places an emphasis on the concept of reaching and elongating within each pose. The intention of creating space in the body lengthens the muscles and increases range of motion. Furthermore, a primary focus of yoga is the acknowledgement of opposites. For every pose, there is a counter-pose that is designed to stretch and release whatever muscles were just employed. This permits the body’s strength and flexibility to co-develop. The emphasis on releasing tension is taken even further in some asanas, such as Pigeon Pose, where opening the muscle in the main focus.
In building my perfect body, I am taking a different approach than I considered in college when I wrote my play. I am not putting together measurements and targeting aspirations toward a tiny figure and bulging biceps. The process is one of allowing my body to find its optimal form and function by using it as nature made it. By dedicating myself to the practice of yoga, I am slowly and respectfully building a body that is wholly trim, muscular, and flexible. This is what I intend when I say “perfect.”
My perfection is not the result of a popularity makeover, nor is it the product of a professional collaboration.
My perfection is the mark of my empowered self.