Recently, a friend of mine shared this article with me. While my yoga self doesn't have an active Instagram, I was completely inspired by everyone's stories so I wanted to share my own.
When I took my first yoga class, I had what many would consider a typical "yoga body". I was naturally thin and too flexible for my own good. I could fold in half and pretzel myself without too much practice or effort. I could eat whatever I wanted without gaining a single pound. In spite of these things that people might envy, I hated my body. My boobs were too small, my face was too awkward, my thighs were too flabby, the litany of complaints was long and tiresome. I remember sleeping in padded bras and sewing swimsuit pads into my dance leotards in an attempt to fit what I thought the world said "attractive" was. The habit of my mind was criticism and perfection and, for years, that's the place I saw the world and myself from.
Then, when I started to practice yoga, a powerful shift began. Yoga taught me that how I saw myself was up to me alone and not dependent on weight or body parts. It helped me realize that the habit of criticism was, just like any habit, within my power to break. How? By changing the message. I believed that inner voice when it was telling me how ugly or unworthy I was so what if that voice started saying the opposite? What would happen if, when a judgment came into my head, I replaced it with gratitude?
What happened is I began to love and accept myself and my body. Ironically, I'm a little fleshier than I was when I started. My metabolism has begun to slow though my love of good food has not. I'm not as flexible as I used to be because I have started to treat my body as a living ecosystem rather than a tool for my ego. And yet, I have never been happier to live in the body I do. Of course, I have times of insecurity but now I have the tools to climb out of that hole. The habit of my mind has less criticism and more compassion and awareness. I realize how futile that judgment was. Begrudging my boobs never made them bigger (not that it would have made any real difference in how I felt). Yelling at my thighs never made them shake less. Those things only ever made me feel bad about myself. Only shifting my attitude has made any real difference.
So here is my yoga body. It has carried and cared for me for 28 years. It is strong and healthy and gives me the ability to stand on my head and on my own two feet. My heart pumps, my lungs breathe, my organs keep me alive no matter my opinion of my stomach. I am eternally grateful for the gift of healthy life my body gives me every day.