This post from Tiny Buddha on self-love was very timely.
I attend a weekly yoga class. I continue to learn so much from this experience. But what I find most valuable is how much I learn from it. I am very grateful for my Teacher, and yet sometimes what I need to learn that day isn't the focus of the class - but something else entirely. This week, my lesson was a valuable reminder on how to treat myself with love and compassion.
Yoga is not a competition, and it is not intended to be, look, or feel the same for every body. Quite the opposite, yoga feels different for each of us because we, ourselves, are unique. Yet, I have to work very hard every week in class, surrounded by slender people, not to 'prove' that I can keep up with them. That's not what this is about. It takes a great deal of effort and mindfulness for me to remain focused on my own experience. Sometimes, that means that I need to check my alignment in a mirror. But, as any larger bodied yogin can attest to, mirrors can be deceiving when aligning a curvier body. I may feel shoulder stacked on top of shoulder and hip on top of hip in Half-Moon, but my body doesn't make the same smooth straight lines that the bodies next to me make.
This last class, I pushed myself too hard. I was very focused, and I could feel that my body needed me to back off, but I didn't listen. Today, I can feel the excess lactic acid build-up in my muscles that is my body's way of reminding me of this valuable lesson.
It is foolish to compare ourselves to others in Yoga, no matter what shape or size your body is. I don't need to prove that I can do each asana exactly the same way as everyone else. In fact, I shouldn't. It shouldn't be exactly the same, because I'm not them. I'm me. And I love me and my curves and this amazing body that I have been blessed with. I feel strong and balanced. So what if I need to lower my back knee to the mat during Crescent pose? If that's what my body is telling me to do, then that is the best choice I can make in that moment.
I've been practicing yoga among the slender for years, now, and I still have to work at this. It's not automatic. It's not easy. I have never had a cruel word spoken to me in a yoga class, but I still sometimes get distracted by feeling "different" or out of place. That's not what Yoga is about, and this is just one of the many reasons why I am so excited to be on this journey to becoming a teacher!
I look forward to sharing Yoga with other women who want to experience yoga in a loving accepting environment - with a teacher who has been there, and who understands that being a curvy yogini is not the same experience and comes with its own set of challenges, and also its own gifts.
As I was reminded this week, I will remind all of you who are following along with me on this journey:
This is YOUR yoga. It is not your teacher's yoga, or your fellow yogi or yogini's yoga. It is not the author of that book's yoga or that magazine's yoga. It is you and your body's yoga. All you have to do is listen... and honour what your body is telling you.
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” -Buddha