Here it is, another day and I’m jonesing for my fix. I mean, I gotta have it regularly or I’m just a bear to be around. Trust me, no one wants that.
I am a yoga-holic. There, I said it. I am truly addicted to contorting my body into strange shapes & seeing if I can do badass balance moves. I am obsessed with mastering a perfect headstand (because inversion is EPIC) & almost cried when I got the pigeon pose down. I have consistently practiced yoga for only a short while now but it has been transformational for me. Indeed, it’s the only workout that I’ve committed to strictly out of my love for it rather than some external motive.
This is a huge deal for me. My whole life, I struggled with body image issues. When I look back, I see how ludicrous that was. I mean, at 19 I was 5’4″ and weighed all of 105 lbs. I was so skinny that my best friends mom told me I needed to eat and then MADE me sit at the food court until I finished my meal (True story–thanks Pat!). Indeed, my value of myself was intricately tied to my body. When I got pregnant with my son, I was tiny. Three years & two big babies later, my once-perfect body was now marred with stretch marks & I was significantly heavier that I had ever been. For the next couple of years, I did everything to get my body back…extreme dieting, tough workouts (hello, Insanity!), wash, rinse, repeat. Add in a really bad experience with hormonal birth control & I had the perfect conditions for excessive focus on my body. It took me a while to realize & accept that the battle I was waging was not with my bulge but with my lack of self-love and acceptance.
The crazy thing? The second I let go of my obsession to be some idealized version of myself, things started changing. I began working out not because I felt some pressure to do it, but because it feels good. I eat healthy because that’s what I want but I also don’t condemn myself if I indulge. This is where yoga came in. My yogis were never telling me to push harder but rather, to go within. To listen to my body. To attend to my breathing. To slow down my mind & simply enjoy the process. And I listened to them. I stopped fighting against myself or competing with some standard and just began to enjoy it. For once, I was in a place where there was no standard or expectation being set other than to pay attention to the alignment of the body and my breath. More often than not, the yogi would instruct something like “deeper stretches don’t mean better–just stay with yourself”. For someone who has always been a high achiever and competitive, this slowing down was actually harder than the weight training classes-Not that there isn’t value in Shaun T. yelling “LETSGOOOOOOOO” because there really is–it’s just not what I need right now. I’m an academic and my mind is always on overdrive. To slow it down & get out of my head and into my body has been priceless. It was challenging but it has been vital. I now go to yoga 3-5 times a week and always follow my practice with 15-30 minutes in a hot sauna, breathing & realizing before resuming the duties of my day.
The most wondrous part about all of this? Now that I’m not super militant and focused on my diet and fitness, it’s all fallen together nicely. My body has changed more in the last 6 months than it did in the last 2 years. One day, I decided impulsively to try on my “skinny” jeans and they fit. I don’t know exactly how much “weight” I’ve lost because I don’t get on a scale anymore very often– the number it reflects doesn’t reflect my value as a woman. I just know that the yoga mat calls to me…it invites me into deeper places within. It invites me into a quiet place in my mind where I find that all really is well with my soul. It invites me to explore my depths & to allow the divinity within to have an outward expression. As my body relaxes into the poses, my mind relaxes into the mantra of whatever my intention for that day might be. Today, my intention for my practice will be: “My heart is open and my love heals the world”.
Because it is. And it does. Namaste.