By: Chase Heidner

Body Image and Yoga

What a time to be alive today in the world of yoga! For the first time, we are finally starting to see a yoga for ALL bodies. This meaning of course - yoga for not only the stereotypically skinny white girl that you see on the cover of a magazine. This is the sole purpose for the instructors at Ganesha Yoga. They encourage people of all shapes, sizes, ages, abilities, and experience to walk into their judgement-free studio.

I had the privilege of listening to co-owner Jane Musgrave explain just how she, and co-owner, Mindy, run their body image positive yoga studio at Ganesha. She emphasized that she wants to "bring yoga to everyone." Their ultimate goal is to make sure that everyone is comfortable in her studio and that everyone supports each other. You don't walk into yoga expecting to know how to stand on your head right away when you think that you're in a beginner level class. Or expected to know what "hatha or vinyasa or ashtanga or power or any mashup of the foregoing," (Hanzlik) means. When you walk into Ganesha, you are comfortable, content, and ready to practice yoga.

Does Ganesha Offer A Variety of Yoga Classes?

Ganesha Yoga has to be one of the most diverse yoga studios that I have seen so far. They have 12 different types of yoga classes listed here on their website. They are extremely beginner friendly and make classes comfortable for everyone that walks in them. Jane expressed that their studio isn't just for beginners or self-conscious people either. She claimed that frequent yoga-goers from around the neighborhood attend her classes on the regular.

They have Plus-size classes, Heavy-Weight, intermediate, one-on-one, and many, many others. They teach the spirituality of yoga, they teach meditation, they teach to improve yogi's psychologically. Basically they teach from all corners of the yoga world!

And get ready for this, animal lovers - They even have Bring Your Dog To Yoga classes in the summer! Honestly, this was my first time ever hearing of such a thing. What class doesn't this yoga studio teach?

The variety of yoga that Ganesha has to offer is very comforting to any type of person interested in practicing yoga. I think Jane said it best when she said, "If you can breathe, then you can do yoga."

Does Ganesha Make Sure to Focus on Stress-Relief in Their Practice?

Just how Marshawn introduced to me a different way of looking at stress-relief in yoga, meaning body stress-relief over mind, Ganesha also gave me a new prospective on stress-relief. This new prospective I was given is stress-relief in YOGA. I never really thought to put myself in someone else's shoes when it came to yoga, but thanks to Ganesha, now I do. Some people are stressed just GOING to yoga. This is because they have a fear of being judged, or not being able to keep up with everyone else in the class. Ganesha makes it their goal to diminish this stress to extinction.

Lisa Watson from Clayton Yoga said it best when she stated, "I am not thin enough, flexible enough, not having enough experience, etc. Let’s face it, there is always somebody who has more flexibility than you or looks better in yoga pants. Does it have to mean that you cannot practice yoga? Not at all! And it would be crazy to let those “I am not enough” thoughts take the fun and serenity you get when practicing. You ARE enough!" (Watson)

I would say that Lisa Watson took the words right out of Jane and Mindy's mouths. Don't let the stresses of those thoughts prevent you from bettering your mind, body, and spirit. Don't let those thoughts prevent you from practicing yoga. Like I mentioned earlier, their ultimate goal is to eliminate that stress, and make it as comfortable for all types of people when they attend their classes.

Jane announced that "In the fall we will begin workshops on nutrition, stress relief and building healthy habits. Our goal is to take care of the whole you—mind, body and spirit." (Musgrave) This is just another indication that stress relief is very important in their practice.

The Change In Yoga

Thanks to Ganesha, there's a place in Chicago diverse, and welcoming enough for anyone that has a passion or interest to practice yoga. They make sure that they have classes suitable for anyone that wants to attend, whether you're a beginner, disabled, self-conscious, an expert, or anyone in between. Most importantly, they make sure you're not stressed about even just the IDEA of attending a class because their studio is a judgement-free zone. I think that both those qualities of the studio are very important in making it as a great as it is. No one wants to go to a studio that doesn't offer a class that fits them, and definitely no one wants to go to a yoga studio where they're stressed to walk through the doors in fear of being judged. Ganesha Yoga makes sure to hit the nail on the head of both these problems and make them non-existent in their studio. If you're looking for a place to practice yoga, Ganesha welcomes you.