In my yoga class,
there are elderly people, young people, fat people and thin people of various levels of flexibility, stamina and athletic strength.
The teacher adapts the postures so that all can practice within the limits of their body.

Nobody is scolded or shamed
for not being able to twist or stretch into the “ideal” posture.
Each person is encouraged to either move into a more challenging advanced pose or stay in an adapted pose,
depending on what the body is able to do in that moment.

Not one person is encouraged to be thinner in order to practice.
Instead we each walk away feeling better in our own bodies, whatever body we may have.

Many of us have learned to hate exercise.
We swallowed water in the pool, and developed a fear of swimming.
We came in last place and earned a nasty nickname.
We were ignored or even mocked by the rest of the team.
We endured the screaming, yelling, name-calling style of motivation that often passes for athletic encouragement.
And we learned that nothing less than perfection is acceptable!

Lucky children have encouraging parents
who applaud as they speed along on a tricycle,
help them as they wobble down the sidewalk on training wheels,
and give a gentle push as they attempt those first daring solo rides on a real bicycle.

It is that kind of step-by-step, non-judgmental encouragement that you really need to hear in order to stay motivated!

Walk around the block instead of running around a track? Good for you!
Ski the beginner’s trail and never get to the bottom without falling? Hooray for trying!
Hold onto the wall for balance in a one-legged yoga pose? Great start!

No matter what activity you choose or how long you need “training wheels”,
hear the voice of praise, even if it is just your own!

FYI: the pose illustrated above is called Vriksasana