The ‘Happy Baby’

        Reminiscent of a ‘Pap Smear, the ‘Happy Baby’ pose asks the yogi to spread her legs in the air, feet in hands. As both of my yoga practices this week concluded with this demonstration of my lady parts, I can see how this may not be an uncommon way to conclude a session.

Since I really do want to continue practicing yoga, I am now experiencing a bit of a dilemma.

At the end of each practice, I did not feel like a happy baby.

See, I am terrified of Pap Smears. I prefer the angle of my legs to be more acute than otherwise, its vertex tucked between thighs. Everything that I have internalized about my gender identity, regarding the assumed norms of modesty and reservation in women, urged my body to not force this dreaded pose upon itself.
So, not knowing what to expect, I came to yoga bearing many inhibitions, revealed upon attempting the ‘Happy Baby.’

Thighs … Thighs … Thighs …
                                    I’m sweating and have big thighs.
Someone behind me
must be judging me.
I’m in a room full of attractive women,
about to spread eagle the heavens.
                                    No, I cannot be thinking that; I’ll be met with hatred.
Only a disgusting person would think such things.

want people to accept me.
… Damn, I have big thighs.

And, as often happens, the echoes of my inhibitions bound me to a cycle of negativity.

Rather than appreciating a moment of spinal alignment and calm, ambient acoustic instrumentals, I was too painfully wrapped-up in my own self-consciousness. Admittedly, I ended my yoga sessions feeling a bit scarred, emotionally spent.

Days later, after speaking with a long-term yoga practitioner about the ‘Happy Baby,’ my internal monologue started to shift focus:

The other people in that room, they’re not there to judge—we’re not there to judge.

We’re there to practice yoga.

When I feel vulnerable, I tend to forget that everybody else is a person, too—bearing their own thoughts, insecurities, and preoccupations.
With this in mind, I trust that the next time I rest into a ‘Happy Baby’ pose (or engage in any potentially uncomfortable activity), I can more easily welcome self-loving thoughts into the practice—giving more attention to the exercise and not dwelling on others’ supposed opinions of me.

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