|It is difficult to find pictures of |
female six-packs on the internet.
Meanwhile, there's that scene in the documentary Ashtanga NYC in which a woman smiles like the cat with the canary and says,"Well, we all know ashtanga can give you a great body!" As if the particular brilliance of ashtanga vinyasa is that we can be spiritual and have tight buns. Nestled under that is the idea that the harder we work, the more spiritual we will be — that in order to reap the greatest benefits from this system, we really need to feel the burn.
It would be remiss of me to not answer the headline, so: body recomposition — a 'six-pack' of abs, or sub 10-percent bodyfat for men, sub 15-percent for women — is 85% food choice, 15% effort. Eliminate grains, legumes, and fructose. Reduce dairy to the whipping cream you put in your espresso. Notice the words "food choice": do not "diet" or restrict eating. Give it 3 months of ashtanga practice. Submit your success photos.
|That better be a real tattoo.|
The shadow aspect of this and any hatha yoga practice or physical discipline is narcissism. Thankfully we are not the first to confront these issues. Far from it: in the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali balances disciplined practice with equal measures self-study and devotion.
So let's at least acknowledge and honor the desire to look good naked, but let's tease it apart from the samadhi that is the residue of this practice. Meaning, to look good naked does not equal samadhi. Let's also tease apart the Protestant work-ethic notion that the more we put into this practice, the more we get out.
I'm not sure if it's obvious, but I don't practice yoga to eliminate or extinguish desire. I don't believe that's possible; or at least, I've never met anyone free from desire. I've never met a saint. Desire makes life possible, after all, and there's a good argument for the idea that life is desire.
|This one's for the ladies.|
To layer guilt for having the desire to look good naked — or for having any thought, really — will turn this or any practice into an insidious means of self-torture.
These desires will arise. Thankfully we have simple tools — the tristana, or ujjayi breathing, vinyasa, and drishti — that allow us to watch them, and then return to our enlightenment.
* Alternate headlines designed to drive up page-traffic:
"How to Chisel Six-pack Abs with Yoga"
"Easy Six-pack Abs with Yoga"
"Lose Belly Fat and Get Six-pack Abs with Yoga"