How to Get a Yoga Butt. ~ Fleur Carter

Via on Nov 14, 2012

A few years ago, a yoga teacher confided in me that she knew a fellow teacher that “didn’t have a typical yoga teacher’s body.”

As someone who was about to embark on their first teacher training, and who does not have a “typical yoga teachers body,” I was mortified. First, because I desperately wanted to learn more about yoga, and the best way to do that seemed to be to undertake teacher training. I could not stand on my head—I was already paranoid that I would be surrounded by amazing yogis that could maneuver their bodies into pretzel like positions.

Second, in my 30′s, I finally decided to like my curves, and realize I was never going to have a washboard stomach no matter how many crunches I did at the gym. (Trust me, I tried.)

Fortunately for me, I landed myself some pretty amazing teachers who did not really care if I could stand on my head, or about the state of my stomach. They taught me what yoga is, and perhaps what it is not. As my teacher Mark Breadner so aptly put it, “putting your leg behind your head will not make you a better person.” His teachings on yoga opened my world into this ancient science, and I feel incredibly blessed to have met such an amazing teacher.

I quickly learned that “the typical yoga teacher’s body” was not an indication of a realized being.

Living in India, the spiritual home of yoga, it is easy to feel a little jaded by what has become of yoga. Pictures of people in contortion plaster the walls advertising teacher training. Clearly they are targeting what westerners come in search of. It is a market, after all. Yoga teacher training is the new “thing.”  Not to say that you cannot find teachings on the sutras or the ancient texts, but it appears that what the market is asking for is asana, the physical postures of yoga, or should I say body contortion. It is beginning to feel a little like a Cirque de Soleil recruitment drive.

In the movie “Alfie” Jude Law quips, “the best thing about the latest yoga craze is the yoga butt.” In many cases yoga is becoming nothing more than a physical exercise class and the principles and teachings are getting lost amid the desire to twist and turn your body into crazy postures all in search of the allusive yoga butt.

In many cases, yoga has become a physical practice with a spiritual element, not the other way around.

Some of the most amazing teachings I have received on yoga have come from teachers that have a great yoga butt, simply because they have sat on it and done the work—not the body contortion, but the meditation, the study, the introspection, the stuff that gets you closer to the point of yoga, to be in union, to join, to yoke. To realize the self through settling the waves of the mind. People who actually practice yoga as it were intended. An ancient science and spiritual practice that does have a physical element.

These teachers may not have a butt that is trim, taught and terrific, nor do they spend their time doing hours of asana, but they are in my humble opinion closer to the point of yoga than getting your leg behind your head will ever be.

Fleur is yoga lover, nomadic wanderer, coffee drinker, writer and personal development coach. She left her HR corporate gig to follow her dreams of travelling, volunteering and working with people on their personal development and growth. She lives in the north of India, studying Tibetan Buddhism, chasing monkeys (or mainly avoiding being chased) and working on dreaming, daring and doing (and helping others do the same). A qualified Yoga Coach/Instructor (RYS 500) she combines her leadership development and coaching experience with her yoga knowledge to work with individuals and groups supporting them in transformation and change.  Dare to live. Connect with Fleur at fleurcarter.com | twitter @fleurcarter

 ~

Editor: Anne Clendening

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16 Responses to “How to Get a Yoga Butt. ~ Fleur Carter”

  1. Vision_Quest2 says:

    This article is so true … and it is one of the best on here …

    Then again, I'd come back to yoga through a constant meditation practice … an irreligious one, I might add but a spiritual one which has helped me cope with a relocation, a scattered family, and encroaching middle age (at that time).

    It is possible to not want the "yoga butt" if it means stinting on the higher practices.

    • Fleur says:

      Thanks for your comments!!….and glad you liked the post.
      It is amazing what practice can do for us, and help us cope with lifes ups and downs.
      I have given up on the yoga butt, but still pursue the other side of yoga, for me it is more profound and life changing than a tight butt will ever be :)

  2. heatmort says:

    Really good. It's so right on.

    It needs to be reminded again and again to people that we are practicing to lessen our mind's habit to identify with the body, shape and form and that includes all the endless projections. That's why Yoga for Weight loss while great and wonderful is also continuing to grease the wheel in our endless pursuit of a physical anything (re: thinner, thin, strong, stronger, whatever).

    It is one of the hardest things to teach and to learn for oneself and to continue to remember. The journey is spiritual and you have a body not vice versa.

    Most instructions today are all about doing this and that with your body and somewhere in there the breath gets added (usually at the end). So, people learn the postures of yoga as body and then breathing. It is, however, breathing and then this body.

    That's the way I learned it and the way I have continued to teach and practice Yoga.

    The practices and as you have described it is another form of Spiritual Materialism. I think, what has happened is that because the postures can be so addictive and you can end up doing pretty great things (depending on how much you practice and your goals, etc) that ego replaces the true path and understanding with this. In other words, it gets confused and thinks that is the goal.

    And so our true calling is buried in endless performance, demos and learning all great postures. I am not knocking it as I have been doing the same things for years and years…and then somewhere a long the line my life, which took a very dramatic turn started to have a voice inside asking, "And where does getting your foot behind your head take you?" "And what will it mean at the moment of death?".

    Thank you for your post.

    • Fleur says:

      Heatmort – I love your reflection "And where does getting your foot behind your head take you?" "And what will it mean at the moment of death?" – This is so true! Your leg behind your head may give you a hip replacement later in life, but other than that, perhaps not much :)

      • heatmort says:

        Yeek, I hope not! :-) That is apparently the worst pose for anyone with a hip problem or having had a hip operation. A really big no no!

        And then there is the conversation that all Ashtanga yoga is for everyone.

        Well, I don't know who they are teaching but my students have had knee operations, back strains, hip replacement and a list of other stuff going on.

        I think, the better sentence is YOGA is for everyone.

        Thanks for the comment/reply.

  3. Edward Staskus says:

    You make some very good points, in my opinion, too bad 10,000 people haven't read your article. Maybe they are too busy working on their butts, getting them nice and trim.

    • heatmort says:

      I know….an article likes this is worth it! and certainly deserves it! Oh well, it all starts in small numbers…then a revolution!

      • Fleur says:

        Thanks so much for your feedback Edward and Heatmort :) :) Very much appreciated. I came into the practice through the physical side but what keeps me is so much more. I hope others can find the benefits of yoga beyond getting a fit butt ;)

  4. [...] How to Get a Yoga Butt. ~ Fleur Carter [...]

  5. Delightful Deb says:

    Great article Fleur! Can relate to so much of this article.

    Being a teacher with a non yoga butt have faced judgement and have many tales and comments from the students.

    The great thing that those who really know the true value of what we have to share don’t judge.

    Deb x

    (ps I I love that you have used this particular photo!)

  6. [...] loss plateau and I thought it might help if I added some yoga to my routine. And I really wanted a yoga butt. And I also knew that I was going to hate [...]

  7. nina says:

    where can i find a teacher like this? i would love to teach but.. cant do a headstand!!

  8. Cynthia says:

    Wonderful article! I wish I could find someone local with your insight to help guide me in my practice (Fort Worth, TX). Instead it seems to all be about how many bodies can fill a room and how much a place can charge. I eventually turned to viniyoga therapy for my lower back and conditioning for belly dancing, which is wonderful, but again, it lacks the depth and spiritual element I long for.

    I enjoyed the other commenters’ contributions as well.

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