The Yoga Arms According to Stock Photos

Comrades, lock your doors, hide your children, The Yoga Arms are here, and they will make you cry.

Last month YogaSpy wrote about the yoga arms:

In Iyengar yoga, teachers emphasize classic yoga arms: straight but not stiff (including wrists and fingers). If tight shoulders prevent you from raising your arms straight and parallel, in line with the ears, just separate them into a “v” shape. This ain’t ballet!

Some softly flexed their elbows. Others (and this offshoot amused me to no end!) kept their elbows straight but cocked their wrists and splayed their fingers in a dramatic flamenco-rivaling gesture.

Whassup with that?

Seriously, whassup with that?

My first reaction is, I don’t know. As I mentioned in my video on goals and intentions, people have a million and one reasons on why they do anything, and it’s futile for us to try and understand them all.

And so, I let it go.

Well, for a moment, at least 🙂 With the Super Bowl in February and a post by YogaDork about Yoga in TV commercials, I started to think about how yoga in commercials influences people who aren’t as familiar with it.

Choices, Choices, Choices

I believe in choice. In the asana practice, the more we know what our choices are, the more we can make conscious decisions to explore how our body works. With yoga so widely used for advertising, in and out of the yoga industry, it’s inevitable that someone will look to the advertising images as authoritative sources. And this is where it gets dicey, because they think that whatever they see is what they’re supposed to look like, and that is simply not true.

*Important note:* Before I go on, I want to stress that I do not have the perfect yoga pose. I am in the business of practicing, not posing. Here’s a comment I left on the aforementioned post by YogaSpy:

You can do whatever you want, as long as you’re clear on the options available and your own choice. For the longest time, I didn’t know I had these options, I simply mimicked what the instructor did without questioning why and how.

Okay, back to our regular programming.

So, I will say this about the yoga arms: you can, and should, reach your arms all the way up *if* your shoulders allow that movement. Seriously, try it, like, right now! Put your arms up over your head, bend your elbows, and put the hands together, so you’re in effect making a trapezoid with your arms and framing your head with it. Now, *if and only if* your shoulders will allow it, reach your arms up, the fingertips extending towards the ceiling (or sky), press the palms together and cross the thumbs. Your shoulder blades will slide up.

How does it feel?

For me, the second option feels much more spacious, taller, and energetically bigger and more expansive. And if we were to go there, I would even say that I feel more connected to the Gods and the Cosmos than the option of keeping my arms low and bending my elbows.

Now, lest you think that I’m disregarding those who can’t raise their arms all the way up, I am not. I believe that your yoga practice will serve you with whatever body you have at any moment. I am simply saying that if your body can and will allow for a certain healthy and normal function, you have the choice to do it.

Years ago when I was in college, one day I discovered a cartoon on a Professor’s office door, it was Bob the Angry Flower‘s guide to the use of apostrophe. I laughed my face off and fell in love with Bob then and there. So, in the spirit of Bob the Angry Flower, I present to you, Ben the Angry Lotus’s guide to the yoga arms. (I’m still working on the name, so it could very well be Lenny the Angry Lotus next time).

What is *your* experience with this? Do you have any Stock Photo Yoga sightings?

If Stock Photo Yoga Arms ran the world...

If Stock Photo Yoga Arms ran the world...

And here’s that awesome Bob the Angry Flower’s guide to the apostrophe

Bob the Angry Flower and the Apostrophe

Bob the Angry Flower and the Apostrophe