For the past couple of months, I have been disappointed with my yoga journal subscription. Over the years, it has gone from a magazine filled with thought provoking articles on love, life, meditation, nourishment, and yoga asanas (poses) for all humans to a typical girly magazine littered with material advertising, yoga "quick fixes," tag lines like "yoga to tighten up that core!" and "clothes to highlight your yoga curves." It was sad to see the change, as it seemed this would be the one magazine that could change the cultural conversation. I decided not to renew my subscription, and today my final issue came in the mail.
As some of you know, my yoga girl-crush is Kathryn Budig, a fun-loving, beer-drinking, talented yogini, with curves to boot. She happened to be the cover model this month, which makes my heart dance a little bit. She has been a "celebrity" yogini for many years, training big names like Giada, creating a DVD for Gaiam, and being the naked girl in the ToeSox ads. When she did those ads, she was 25 years old and in amazing shape. Over the years she has found love, aged 7 years, and put on some weight. Yoga Journal asked her what she thought about looking at her 25-year old self, and this was her response,
I don’t believe in changing anything, but it has been a challenge to watch my 25-year-old body turn into a 32-year-old body. It is not depressing; it is the evolution of a woman. This body, whether it is 10 pounds skinnier or 10 pounds heavier, can still do those postures because it is strong. I stay focused on what I feel, on the results. I have a lot of love in my life, and I didn’t have that when I was 25. If I get hung up on what my body looks like, I am losing track of my goal, of my aim.
The whole article was great, and I encourage you all to read it. For me, it furthered the conversation about finding our happy, and specifically, making our relationship with our body a happy one. As I said before, being in the fitness industry is tough, because there is a lot of emphasis on how you look, with the occasional "how do you feel?" thrown in as an afterthought. I've known people who do not have an ounce of fat on their bodies be completely miserable and I know people who've put on weight and glow with happiness.
I think the most important step is changing our perspective. In the article, Kathryn alludes to the challenging yoga world, where the ideal aesthetic is long and lean. As a curvy girl, she has been called "brave" for showing her curves. Her response is simple, being curvy and rocking it is not brave, going to war is. We aren't made to look the same, so it's not brave for those of us who have them to show our curves, its just how it should be. Same thing if you have a naturally thin body, do you girl. It's not brave to love how we are, it's just challenging. Even then, it's a problem we created ourselves. We make it complicated when we are perfectly healthy and relatively happy, but we look at the cellulite on the back of our thighs and say, "I would be so much happier if that was gone."
I have a long history of bad-mouthing my assets, but over the years I have made a conscious decision to stop. I have been open in my classes, talking about my "CrossFit thighs" and my "yoga booty." I have extra meat on me in different areas, but those are all signs of what I do, where I've been, and who I am. Don't fight the natural you. (Of course there are times when I am uncomfortable, like when I eat/drink too much of something or of the wrong thing. But we must recognize the temporary discomforts and separate them from living in constant dissatisfaction.) When you speak positively about yourself, it doesn't mean you are 100 percent OK with your body, but you are living with it and loving what you have today. Then you empower and give permission to other people to do the same."
But, then there are real life issues we encounter and must face. So, if you are truly unhappy, or if you are truly uncomfortable in your skin, its time to touch base on exactly why. I had a student come up to me to inquire about the cleanse. She feels uncomfortable in her skin, knowing that something isn't right. I've known her long even to know that she has suffered in the past couple of months (possibly the last year) through physical injuries, emotional traumas, big life changes, and more. These kinds of stresses have taken a toll on her body and she doesn't feel like herself. Her body isn't representing who she feels she is. She, like many of us, lost connection to herself, her physical self. I've been there and when you're there, you know the difference between being superficially unhappy with the way you look and knowing deep down that something else is going on.
This is an example of when you can look at where you are and make changes to get back to you. It's not about losing weight here, its about attacking the stressors that have put on the weight. Because the physical weight isn't the issue, its the emotional weight that lives inside. Shew! That can feel heavy, right?!
If you are feeling this way, and are not sure you are ready to take on any major changes yet, I challenge you to simply start "checking in." Start a daily journal and give yourself 5-10 minutes each day to express anything you want. Write down how you feel, what's up with you, or even a quote that spoke to you. Once you start that conversation with yourself, you're on the path to trigger your happy.