I love my body, I think it’s great. I don’t mean in a bikini ready, catwalk kind of way but in a “healthful, does what I want it to do every day” kind of way.
To clarify, I mean that my body does what I ask of it. It doesn’t hurt in the morning, when I teach or practice or by the time I go to bed (despite the fact that some weeks I teach over 15 classes a week). My skin feels healthy and so does the rest of me and most days I feel pretty good when I wake up in the morning. For this, I feel immense gratitude on an almost daily basis (sometimes I admit I do forget!) and I know how lucky I am that this is the case.
Over the last few weeks however I’ve found myself thinking quite a lot about my body and when I say that, what I actually mean is I’ve been thinking a lot about my body shape.
Since practising yoga, my view of my body shape has changed in a really positive way and in fact, (very, very gradually) so has the reality. I firmly believe that as a result of my practice, I now have a much better perspective on my own body shape. I am able to view it from a more complete perspective, valuing it greatly for what is can do and its health rather than purely from a waist or dress size. I also know that yoga is much, much (much!) more than a physical practice. I recognise too, that since giving up the rat race and by teaching and practising yoga every day of the week, my body continues to get stronger and more flexible and yet…..
All this, and I was still tempted to weigh myself at the gym the other day and I still allowed myself to feel a touch of disappointment when there was no change on scales from the last time I weighed myself about a year ago.
Despite everything I’ve just said, after the scales experience, my ego took a bit of a knock. I’m not proud of this but in spite of everything I’ve just written, that was what happened. I don’t have what some people might consider a “typical yoga teachers physique”. I’m a size 12 (sharp intake of breath!) and sometimes a size 14 in jeans and I weigh a fair bit over 10 stone in old money. I occasionally wonder if this is what people expect when they meet me for the first time.
I suspect there are a number of reasons I felt this way. Unfortunately, one of them is probably the fact that I spend so much time looking at yoga magazines and web sites (often with pictures of very petite women doing incredible poses in tiny outfits). In fact, a recent edition of Yoga Journal caused quite a stir just recently and has got a lot of people talking about this very issue (you can see some of the debate here on the Yoga Dork site here and here). However, since following this discussion on-line, I’ve also been lucky enough to stumble across one of my now favourite Facebook pages called My real yoga body which portrays bodies of ALL shapes and sizes practising yoga.
As I’ve been thinking about all this, I’ve also asked a few of you for your own views on the matter and I’ve been inspired by so many of your responses. Many of you have said that one of the most important things is that your yoga teacher appears to be healthy and gives their students confidence in both their inner and outer physical and mental strength.
That being said, my view is that in my particular case, this knock to my ego wasn’t all bad (aren’t we always trying to strive for a bit of balance in yoga?), whilst I eat pretty healthily most of the time and live an active lifestyle, I’m also aware that I’m not too good at following one of the yamas, brahmacharya (restraint or self control) and I certainly let a fair bit of greed get the better of me each week, especially over the weekends. As a child, my hefty appetite was always celebrated at family gatherings as I cheerily put away helping after helping of delicious treats (Since a small child I’ve loved to cook and enjoying food has always been a big part of my life).
My battered ego has also motivated me to go for a weekly bike ride with couple of ladies after class each week, this is so much fun and has given me a chance to get an extra dose of fresh air and have a natter at the same time. My hubby and I are also beginning to gradually incorporate more walks into our Friday evenings as a way to unwind and catch up on one another’s weeks instead of dinners out and takeaways (yep, he’s very pleased about that one too!) but, and this is the very important bit to me, my emphasis on all this is about me continuing to improve my health and NOT my size or weight.
I’m hoping that these small adjustments will continue to help me improve my overall well-being. I guess too that it’s possible (although I suspect pretty unlikely) that I may “drop a dress size” but do you know what? I really don’t mind either way!
P.S It’s taken me ages to write this blog post, it’s a sensitive subject and I’ve tried hard to be honest, sincere and heartfelt. Please let me know what you think on my Facebook page or email me and tell me your thoughts…..
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