Body image is always something that I’ve struggled with since I was very young. I still struggle with it to this day. However, I feel that my yoga practice has helped me to gain a new appreciation of my body. It has allowed me to cultivate a deeper and healthier connection with myself in many ways.
When I started doing yoga, it was in an effort to “improve” my body. I thought it’d be extra exercise on top of the ridiculous amount I was already doing every day. I thought I’d be leaner, more toned, more flexible, overall “sexier” if I was a yogi. Not uncommon reasons to get into yoga, but not at all the reasons I stayed with it.
While yoga has provided the benefits I sought from it, it has also provided so much more. It has helped me learn to see my body as a friend rather than an enemy. To see it as something to cherish and care for. To be grateful for. When I roll out my mat every day, it is like unwrapping a gift. A sacred place inside myself where I get to return again and again. A date with my inner child. A moment of peace and play and rest. My sanctuary.
Drink from the well of yourself, and begin again.Charles Bukowski
This is one of my favorite quotes. For me my yoga practice is that well that I go to drink from each day. It gives me perspective. It gives me strength. It is cleansing. The hard part in the beginning is committing to a daily practice. The hard part now is learning to keep that practice with me as I go through the rest of my day.
Even a 90 minute yoga session every day won’t be enough to completely reverse years of negative self-talk and self-destructive habits. But it is still nice to set aside time (even if only 5 minutes) to forgive myself for that. To be engulfed in gratitude, because despite all the harmful behaviors that persist, my body continues to be there for me. Supporting me, performing for me, giving me my very life.
This body is worth so much more than they way it looks. It is everything I have. It does so many incredible things for me every moment of every day. And it has been doing these things for me for nearly 27 years now! What a blessing! What an absolute miracle! What could be more amazing? How could I ask for more?
Yoga reminds me of all this. It is a joyous celebration of this body, of this breath that moves it. A celebration of its strength, its resilience, its beauty, its grace, its ability for endless growth and change. How I wish I could whisper “thank you” for each beat of my heart. How I wish I could keep this gratitude and love with me always, not just during my practice.