Skinny Yoga and the Violence of Perfection

My yoga is better now that I’m not skinny

LaToya Baldwin Clark

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Three thin women wearing yoga pants and trendy shoes
https://www.flickr.com/photos/a_malaprop/27529935119

I have to move my belly out of the way, or else I can’t get my fingers under my feet. My thighs give out and I land on my butt trying to do a toe stand. No longer able to rotate my hip joint to place my foot on top of my leg, my tree pose is wobbly. “LaToya, bend your knees as much as you need to touch your forehead to your thigh.” My knees are almost bent in half.

It is my first time at yoga in more than a year, since COVID hit and closed my favorite studio. I was not going consistently prior to the onset of COVID; indeed, I was deeply depressed and not doing much of anything. In some ways, COVID gave me the excuse I needed to lie around. Both forms of exercise that I previously enjoyed were right in my building. While they were open, and as I passed them each day, I felt the familiar pangs of self-loathing at my inability to move my body. When they closed, I satisfied myself by declaring the reason I wasn’t moving my body much past my bed was out of my control.

This is hot yoga, and the heat hits me the moment I walk into the room. I make the mistake — but perhaps not — to be at the front of the room, closest to the room-length mirror. Every mat is spaced wide apart, and I choose my spot because it seems to be the furthest away from everyone else…

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LaToya Baldwin Clark

Law professor. Living with Bipolar. Teach and write about the law of educational inequality, property and the family. Mom of 3. All opinions my own.