Friday, July 30, 2010
There are so many things that I love about Ashtanga yoga. I have been doing yoga for about 4 years, but only consistently for a year. By consistently, I mean that it is consistently in my life, despite my sporadic lack of discipline. Nonetheless, I love it and the benefits are infinite.
One significant gift that yoga has brought into my life is a more positive body image. Never am I so in touch with my body as when I practice yoga.
In the most obvious way, you can’t spend three to five hours a week head to toe in skin-tight lulu spandex without confronting some lumps and rolls, no matter who you are. No three-way mirror required. You get to be up-close and personal with what your mother gave you.
On a deeper level, I have learned to see my body as a tool rather than a burden.
I can’t hide from myself halfway through a class when I am attempting to curl myself around myself and at the same time breath and then ‘pop up’ into a vinyasa. Here I am forced to understand my abilities and limitations.
I have some pretty wise teachers at my studio. I can say that without a doubt that I have learned more from them than five years of university. Many of them say ‘if you were meant to have a perfect asana right now you would.’ Wise, right? One teacher in particular says ‘if you can, you must’. Also wise!
This dichotomy between acknowledging what you are able to do and knowing the difference between not being able to do something and not wanting to is powerful.
It is in the most difficult poses that my body teaches me important lessons about who I really am. Do I give up, or persist? Do I panic and distract myself or do I embrace the discomfort? Do I honour my body and where it’s at today or do I crank myself into Marichyasana B and risk injury? These considerations lead to answers about the real me. There’s no fooling anyone in yoga. Not even yourself.
In yoga body is my teacher, so how could I not learn to love it?
I won’t lie and say that I love my body every day. I can certainly get caught up in expectations and comparisons. I might see someone with a flat stomach and think ‘I should get a personal trainer…’ but really, I am smart enough to know that no one has a perfect body, and yet everyone’s body is perfect. It’s about having a relationship with your body that is mutual; a little give and take.
For the most part I accept my body as perfect for me. If I was meant to have any other body, I would. And if I really wanted to I could. But as it is right now I understand it. I do my best to give it respect, and I am blessed with mobility and freedom from pain.
Thank you Body! In yogic tradition:
shantih, shantih, shantih
at 8:56 PM