Photo Credit: Pink Sherbet Photography
Last week, I found that my personal energy was running very low. I was tired, feeling run-down, grumpy, and just generally a bit out of whack.
Despite not feeling well, though, I found that I kept trying to hold myself to my obligatory “should’s”.
I should… work harder on my upper body strengthening poses in my Yoga practice
I should… socialize at a higher energy level than I am.
I should… clean and organize the house
I should… stay on top of all my ongoing projects
And the more I held myself to the “should” things, the worse I felt physically and emotionally. I was drained and exhausted but I kept trying to fight my way through it.
And then I remembered that I COULD do something different.
I could… practice Yoga restoratively in a way that would replenish my depleted energy
I could… say no to social obligations and instead take some time to be by myself
I could… relax a little bit about the house and trust I could catch up more efficiently after a break
I could… work on my projects when I want to and have the energy but not when I don’t
I could… accept my energy level and flow with it instead of fighting against it.
And so I made a conscious decision to follow my could's instead of my should's. I chose self-care.
I practiced gently. I took the quiet time for myself that I needed and said no to extra social activities. I let go of some of my stringent expectations of what needed to happen at home. I worked on projects only as much as I felt I had the energy for and therefore the work I did do was quality work, and I trusted that my body knew what it needed and that the world wouldn’t come to a screeching halt if I gave it what it wanted.
In other words, I gave myself permission.
One of the biggest barriers to taking care of ourselves is fear: Fear that if we choose self-care, or self-nurturing that we will somehow end up letting other people – or ourselves – down. Often we think things will fall apart or that if we let go of control everything will be a huge mess.
But. When you stay mindful of yourself and what you need, what often happens is that you function BETTER overall than if you ignore your needs.
That is the magic of self-care. Had I continued to follow my shoulds, I would have followed them right into feeling extraordinarily depleted and possibly putting myself in a position to be unable to be really present for my students when it came time to teach. Instead, I took a step back, gave myself the gift of allowing some space and breathing room into my day for rest and reflection, and ended up feeling like I was able to be fully present and effective when it was time to teach.
Sometimes, giving yourself permission to take care of yourself, to NOT check off every item on your to-do list, is the most powerful thing you can do.
Try it! And let me know how it worked out for you in the comments.
You know… being yourself can feel like the hardest thing ever!
Not that I’m *cough* speaking from personal experience or anything. *cough*
For real, though. I know we’ve probably all been there, but I’ve really been noticing this as I’ve stepped more and more fully into the role of a Teacher.
And yet ome of the things I enjoy most about teaching Yoga are so enjoyable precisely because of who I am! After all, it is because I have such passion for the transformative power of Yoga when it comes to body image and self-acceptance and self-esteem that I love teaching it so much. It is because I have lived through so many years of pretty much hating my own body that I can talk about body-love from a truly authentic place. And it is my playful little kid trapped in a grown-up’s body personality that lets me have fun and bring innocence and simplicity to this practice that sometimes takes itself too seriously.
But I still deal with all the same fears that most of us face when we put ourselves out there in the world, particularly when we're putting ourselves out there exactly as ourselves.
What if some people don’t like me or my style of teaching?
What if they don’t take me seriously as a fat yoga teacher?
What if, even after joining a class of like-minded and like-bodied people, some people still don’t think Yoga is for them? Does that mean I've failed?
And then there’s the age-old advice that we’ve all heard a million times: “You can’t please everyone.”
Okay, so it’s true. I can’t please everyone. I mean, logically, I really do understand that. But what I teach really IS who I am. So it’s not always easy to remember that when people don’t dig it, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me OR what I teach. The truth is, that I am who I am and there will be those that enjoy and appreciate and get something out of what I have to offer and there will be those that don’t. However, for me, it takes conscious effort to stay courageous about remaining true to myself and my message when faced with naysayers.
And then something, like this quote, brings it into sharp, crystal-clear, focus. Not only is it essential to my teaching to be authentically me, but it is my absolute privilege as a human being on this planet to be myself.
When I think about it like that, suddenly it doesn’t feel so hard to stay true to my authentic self and my perspective and this path. In fact, it feels like the greatest gift ever.
So to those that will resonate with what I bring to the table as a Teacher, I commit to you that we will walk this path together and in the process, find the love and gratitude and joy in each moment of it - even when it challenges us.
Let's do it!
"There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
So you might have noticed that Body Positivity Yoga is now The Fat Yogini. Let me tell you why...
Some days, it seems like just yesterday that I was practicing Yoga in my jammies in the early hours of the morning to a well-used VHS tape - in secret.
That was actually a very long time ago; around twelve or thirteen years ago, though I am fairly sure that I've lost count by now. What I do know is that I was absolutely terrified to tell anyone I was practicing Yoga. I was sure that whomever I told would explode in guffaws of laughter at the idea of a short fat girl like me in Downward Facing Dog or Tree Pose.
But still, eventually I grew braver and knew that I wanted to talk about my experiences. And so I considered blogging. It was then that I came up with the name "Fat Yogini". I started blogging privately and called it "Diary of a Fat Yogini", sure that I would share it with someone, someday. Eventually, I did - but only with my closest friends.
But I continued to fondly think of myself as the Fat Yogini. It was a playful moniker that made me feel like I was reclaiming something that I once thought of as negative as a beautiful thing not because of itself necessarily but because it was a part of me. To my delight, that sense of self-appreciation continued to grow. And now, sometimes, I hardly recognize myself! And yet I see myself more clearly now than I ever did before.
And that is what makes this path to Body Acceptance, to Body Positivity so amazing, and so transformational. But it isn't without fear. It isn't without faltering. And I have days that are hard, too.
I'll be honest. When I began my path to become a Yoga teacher, I thought I was as confident as I could possibly be. I loved myself and had come as far as I could on this body-loving journey. Little did I know how much more growing I would do. That I still need to do. Reality check.
So, the process of naming my business has really been a sort of Evolution. It began with an idea. A dream. I wanted to share my story and bring this journey of a beautiful practice and a surprisingly aligned path to body acceptance together into a cohesive whole that people could relate to. I had a crystal clear vision of my dream but no idea what to call it so that other people would see it too. So I tried on one name and then another and finally settled with Body Positivity Yoga.
But then a friend recently asked me why I'd never claimed the name, The Fat Yogini, for who I am as a Teacher. His question caught me off guard, but once I could look past my fear of change and, to some degree - vulnerability, it also really hit home. I had been The Fat Yogini for many years. I just wasn't sure I "should" call my business that.
In the process of teaching, I find that I always have so much more to learn. I learn from my students. I learn from other teachers. But one of the most impactful things I've learned so far, is that the best thing I can do as a Teacher is to be authentically me, even when that is a bit scary. The time for "shoulds" is over. Teaching Yoga is about authenticity and vulnerability and recognizing that life, Yoga, and body acceptance are each a process - a practice, maybe even an evolution.
While Body Positivity Yoga is the Yoga that I practice and that I teach, it is not the only thing that makes me who I am. I have a story. We all do. My story is about The Fat Yogini. And THAT is what I am so passionate about sharing with all of you.
And so I have come back to where it all began. Only this time, there is no fear - only a feeling of elation and empowerment.
Lisa, The Fat Yogini
Despite a few glitches in the way my morning went, I have to say that the Platform For Plus Size event went very well!
The venue, downtown Vancouver's own Vancity Theatre, was really lovely. It was intimate and very well laid out. It gave the symposium participants the opportunity to actually connect with one another, which can be hard to do at a large scale event.
As for the speakers, my favourites were Christina Bianchini, Louise Green, and of course Jennifer Livingston. These women shared their own journeys from a place of personal experience and the message from them all was body-positive and inspiring. To quote Louise Green, "Live Life Now". And to quote Jennifer Livingston, "You are more than a number on a scale."
I have to say, after Jennifer's keynote, I am pretty sure there was not a dry eye in the house. She spoke about her journey to body-acceptance from a place that was both vulnerable and raw. I'm sure that everyone in the room could relate to her story. So many of us had people who told us that we'd "be so much prettier if you were thinner" . So many of us know what it's like to be bullied because of our size, weight, or appearance. It is sad and frightening how relatable this story is. And it is why I am so fired up... so passionate about sharing this body-loving journey with other people.
While working my Body Positivity Yoga table, I had some really great conversations and connected with some great people, including other local business owners who are working toward shared body positive goals.
And I'm super excited about all the new opportunities that this experience will bring.
And here's where I say that I hate to leave you all in suspense - but there are some very exciting announcements coming soon. Make sure you're subscribed to my newsletter and liking me on Facebook so that you can be among the first to know!