Yoga does this weird thing to your body, and I don’t just mean making you calm, fit and flexible. You can, if you let it, help you love yourself.
When I started practising a number of years ago, I had a pretty average relationship with my body. I had good days and bad days, but at a base level I didn’t like the way I looked physically. And this was bred by my general dislike of myself, and my belief that I didn’t deserve to treat my body right (more on that lovely nugget in another post).
Yoga showed me how awesome the human body is. That is what hooked me about yoga. Every time you get on the mat, you make incremental progress. Even if you can’t see it, one day you will be able to do an asana you couldn’t before (no matter how ‘advanced’). It can also help you erase the voice in your head or the people in your life telling you that you aren’t thin or pretty or smart or x,y,z enough. Yoga gives you back control of your own body and mind, even if you never realized you lost it.
Bottom line, if you let go of your expectations about your practice and let your body do the things it wants to do, it can often do a lot more than you’ve been allowing it to. If you can start thinking of ‘The Pose’ as a separate entity from your body, then you can do a lot more than you realize because you are no longer practicing in a place of fear. There is no such thing as failing in a yoga practice. The worst thing that can happen is falling on your face. And that is a proud yogi rite of passage.
The great irony of this entire post is that, right now, I am having a ‘I hate my body’ moment. To get myself out of this funk, I took a page out of Kathryn Budig’s book (not literally her book, though I have heard its excellent). I was feeling very self conscious yesterday about my body, so I practiced in a sports bra and yoga pants.
It was not easy.
I even filmed my practice! I made myself watch the video back even though I would have rather poked my eyes out. Underneath the layer of fat on my body I have decided to call my ‘not taking care of myself fat’, I could see my muscles working! Working to help me make shapes, clear my mind and reset my attitude. Sometimes all it takes is seeing how incredible your body is, to help you get back on the path to loving it.
Four years into my yoga journey, I still might not love everything about my body everyday, but I know what I can do with my body if I believe in it. And that’s awesome.
How has yoga changed the way you see yourself?
Till next time,