So here I am, exposing myself in every way imaginable to the world. If that isn't a lesson in courage, then I don't know what is. If someone had told me even three years ago that I would someday be taking steps to become a Certified Yoga Teacher and posting pictures of myself in body-hugging yoga clothing on a web site and Facebook page - well, I would have told them that they were nuts.
And yet... here I am doing the very thing that I should be most afraid of doing, and instead of feeling scared and vulnerable, I feel confident. I believe in myself. Before Yoga, that would never have been possible.
You see, it seems that every mirror I had ever looked into before I began practicing Yoga - had lied to me. From the time I was a young girl, I believed that fat was bad. Fat people were slow, lazy, ugly, worthless, and certainly not graceful. I felt ashamed of my body and awkward moving it. My body and me were completely at odds. I resented the body that I had been raised to believe was to blame for every problem I had socially, physically, or psychologically. I punished it, by denying it any of my attention. I ignored it. I ignored me.
I stumbled on yoga mostly by accident, as I've said before. I needed a low impact (read: no impact) activity to do because I was once again on a weight loss kick. But, what I found, was so much more.
I still remember laying on my back in Savasana at the beginning of a relaxation sequence I was doing along to a Yoga video. It was only my second week of using the video, and as I laid there with one hand on my belly, focusing on my deep abdominal breathing, I had an epiphany. I liked feeling the way my belly moved. My body felt like a part of me, for the first time in what felt like forever. The coming weeks and months doing yoga in my living room brought more and more of this new connection to me. Every pose, I learned something new about my body and how it moved. I noticed how muscles felt when they activated, or the soft surrender of a deep stretch as each exhale allows the muscle to soften and then lengthen. I started to notice how it felt to hold my knees directly over my ankles or my head balanced evenly over my spine.
Instead of hunching forward, protectively, I began to walk taller.
Every time I step onto the mat, I make a commitment to myself to listen to and honor my body. In a way, my Yoga practice is also the practice of paying homage to every action my body does every day. The gift of breath. The gift of movement. The gift of softness and surrender. The gift of strength. My body and I, we get along well now. We're tight. I know my body and respect it. And, in return, my body supports me in everything I do. It's a great arrangement. Win, win, you might say.
As my wife snapped photos of me in a variety of poses, I felt amazing. I wasn't afraid of my belly roll showing or the angle of my chin. I was just excited to show off this big body doing some kick-ass yoga! And when I reviewed the photos, I noticed for the first time in a long time all of the rolls and curves, the places where my body seems loose or wiggly... and I was able to see all of this from the place of simple, non-judgmental observance. I know how my body feels in that Ustrasana and it feels FANTASTIC. When I'm in that pose, and my heart is open and my head is falling down my back, I'm not thinking about how exposed my belly is or whether my thighs look too chunky - I'm just feeling bliss. Pure bliss.
Starting Curvaceous Woman Yoga™ has shown me that the greatest gift of my Yoga practice is the way it allows me to see myself, exactly as I am, and feel grateful and blessed for being me.
Still walking tall,