|Credit is really due to Abercrombie, image from yogadork.com|
I have written previously about the weight that I have lost over the past two years, and how yoga has helped me make mind-body connections that had long been missing in my life. I would love to be able to tell you that I have a completely healthy relationship with my body after two years of yoga and breathing and a focus on holistic eating.
What I can tell you is that I make progress every day.
Sometimes, I struggle. No matter how much weight I lose, how tight my abs are, how defined my muscles become- I remember. I remember what it felt like when I wore clothes that were four sizes larger - and tight. I remember what it felt like to hold my stomach sucked into my jeans for hours - for years, how I hated getting in a bathing suit, and seeing myself in the shower. How hard it was to change - how thankful I am for where I am now - how scary it is that I could go back there to that place of loathing. How much I need to maintain a healthy view of my goals for my body to maintain balance.
You can change your relationship with how you fuel and use your body - but you have to silence the voice of doubt as well. That takes longer than losing weight or getting toned - and it might be harder.
Body image is a heavy part of our personal and social consciousness. Our mind plays tricks on us. We look around at a confusing array of mixed messages and images from every corner of our world. Abercrombie - and ads like this one - show us just one little microcosm of that world.
Nobody needs to look like the A&F ad to love themselves. And who is to say what a perfect butt is anyways? We come in all shapes and sizes. The hope is that we are all motivated to move towards keeping the one body that we have healthy and whole - and to find some love for that body.
I will be the first to tell you that yoga can be a double-edged sword on the weight issue. It involves putting your body in a room full of other bodies. The focus is physical. Sometimes, the clothes we wear to practice are fairly form-fitting. Drawing comparisons can be a big temptation at first.
Yet, in time, yoga helps to equip our minds for the journey with our bodies.
Moving forward in our practice means having a real conversation with our bodies. It means turning on and firing all of our muscles - even the ones in parts that we hate, or view as less-than perfect. In time, the places where we have numbed out - start to become less numb.
And just as it begins to change our bodies, yoga gives us the ability to love our bodies as they are. We can start to amaze ourselves with our ability to use our bodies in a positive way, and we can connect into a much deeper love of our own self. We start to rely on the physical to aid the emotional. Our practice becomes a safe space to flex those mind-body connections - and retrain our ideas of what inspires us.
I know one thing - as a result of my practice, I am inspired to be healthy and strong. When I look in the mirror now, I try hard to look for strength, not slim. Because I don't need a perfect butt to handstand in the middle of the room. I need strength to do that.
That doesn't mean that I don't sometimes approach the mirror with a red pen. I am slowly - but surely - teaching myself that the number doesn't matter. And that the little things that bother me, probably are not worth worrying about.
I am grateful for the practice that sustains me while I work through my doubts.
We get one life and one body. Yoga helps me love both. That's perfect enough for me.