I am a woman. This mere genetic fact is something that has challenged and triggered me on and off for the majority of my twenties. Because, you see, being a woman means I have curves. And, bumps. And, let’s face it, cellulite.
(Oh. You too?)
And, for a long time, I thought it was my fault. My body’s ‘flaws’ were somehow indicators of a much deeper character conflict. In a Dorian Grey reversal, I somehow deluded myself into believing that if I was truly ‘good’ I wouldn’t have wobbly legs. Or, frizzed hair. Or, a body that is always double-digits away from magazine standards (What. The. Fuck.). Then, came yoga.
Going Beyond the Physical
I, like many of us, first encountered yoga as a physical practice. And, if I am really honest about it, I probably thought it was a way of exercise which would bring me closer to the thing that is a ‘beautiful body.’ Ironically, I was completely right and wrong at the same time!
In time, yoga would teach me that my body is beautiful, but not by changing it! Yoga taught me to celebrate the privilege of inhabiting a form. I could discover myself within my body. This teaching has single-handedly changed my life.
Simply, yoga practice encouraged me to encounter my body as a container to put myself into, rather than a definition of self. I learned I was much more than my body, and in time, I began to notice how all of my actions, thoughts, and choices would reflect on my body. I could make choices that helped me breathe easy and open my heart, or I could drink a Red Bull.
I had choices and these choices had effects! It wasn’t more complicated or vengeful than that.
Yoga showed me how I was part of the conversation and, ultimately, yoga taught me to direct the conversation in a loving way that felt aligned with my heart. (This meant I had to give up the story of a wrathful previous life karma that was now punishing me through cellulite but I digress...) By witnessing my own impact on my body, I learned to love my body.
Be A Seer
Manorama teaches that “one cannot be what one can see.” For me, this means that I am not my body. And for that matter, I’m not my mind either! I can see my body. I can challenge it and I can feel it’s responsiveness. This is how I learned to honor my body.
This is a gift of yoga.
Your body is more than how it shows up day to day. It is more than its clothing size or skin color or texture. Your body is a way into your loving heart. Let your yoga practice teach you to truly see your body.