“I hate my body.”
It came out of their mouth with such an ease you could tell it was more than just words. It was an inner mantra that ran through each cell of their being and it froze me to the spot I was standing in and at the same time struck my heart with such an aching sadness that I instantly wanted to wrap them in a huge hug. The scene was all of one minute long and yet it held the weight of a lifetime of the words, “Not good enough.”
“Well, let’s get in the hot room and try and turn that around for you,” I replied with a smile.
I hear these words all of the time. It’s part of the job description when you take on the role of Yoga Teacher. “I hate my body,” comes out as a flippant admission that qualifies our body’s looks to those around us and at the same time is closer to the truth than the person speaking them would like to admit.
I know I am sensitive to these words because I lived and breathed them for most of my life – that is, until I found yoga. When I heard these words this week fall out of a student’s mouth in its jumble of truth and sadness I realized how far I had come in my own journey. I couldn’t in a chummy way say, “Ah, we all feel that way,” or “Who doesn’t?” with a wink and smile.
There are days of doubt. There are days I wish I looked better in my side string shorts than I do. But I know that these are just moments or echoes of my earlier life. I notice these thoughts and decide to create something better for myself by thinking something more positive – about my body, about my practice, about my life.
Most of us have no reason to hate our body. It is fully functioning and for the most part, healthy. Everything is in working order, but for some reason we’ve latched on to the idea that our body is less than the miracle it was when we were a baby. How often have you looked at a newborn baby and sighed, “What a little miracle!” Can I ask you – why are you less than miracle now?
Your body is the greatest gift you will ever get. And even if you hate it, it’s still going to take care of you – your heart will still beat, your lungs will still breathe. That in itself is pretty amazing.
We all dislike parts of our Self. It might be our body. It might be our choices. It might be our relationships. But we also have the power to flip the script on the things we dislike. And the best way to flip the script is to truly take the time to get to know your Self.
Yoga can be the vehicle that will get you there. Meditation also helps. A great coach or therapist are super cool, too. There are many paths up the mountain, just pick a path. Let it be a path that lights you up. A path that has you looking back at your Self in the mirror and saying, “Looking good,” or “Hey, gorgeous!” Your body will thank you for the compliment with a health, wellness, and peace that most never get a chance to experience. You’ve tried the other way of living. It’s time for something else. It’s time to embrace You and the miracle you are and always have been.
Yoga Story of the Week
Home Studio: FUEL: Mind to Body
Eleven years ago, I remember wanting to try yoga. I can’t remember exactly why I was searching for a yoga class (was I injuring myself with the running I was doing? Did I want to stretch more? Was I looking for a way to quiet my mind?) but I was hooked on the idea that I should try yoga. So, I found a class at the community college near my house (perfect I thought, it’s close and inexpensive and they have a class that fits with my schedule). I signed up, went to one class and never went back. It was cold in the room (I’m a naturally cold person who has poor circulation – my hands turn purple in winter time and throb with pain), and we weren’t doing anything that I perceived as useful or “hard” (I’ve also been pretty flexible my whole life).
Not long after trying that one class, I was talking with my now-husband’s best friend and he suggested I try Bikram Yoga (he lives in San Francisco and practices with his wife). I told him I wasn’t interested in a class that was all “clear your mind”/ meditation focused. He said that Bikram classes were heated and that you left feeling like you had “a workout”. That all sounded good to me so I researched it, found that a studio had opened not far from where I was living and began to plot when I could go in for my first class.
I decided to try my first class on a day I had off from my job (a Monday in January during cold Chicago weather). It was packed. We were mat to mat and I ended up in the front of the room. I remember feeling sweaty and hot but also excited to try my best; I think I was running on adrenaline. I left feeling like I had one heck of a workout. I went home and lounged around for the rest of the day. I had purchased the intro week, so I knew I would be back (I hate wasting money!). The next day I was sore all over (that good kind of sore).
I continued to go to class on the weekends. It felt good and it was helping me lose weight (I was planning my wedding). In hindsight, it was probably also helping me manage stress.
I’ve now been practicing for ten years. I’ve practiced through two pregnancies (I always found taking Bikram class while pregnant to be easier than doing normal, everyday tasks while pregnant). It makes me feel good (it helps me sleep). It helps me manage stress (it helped me cope with my brother’s illness and eventual passing). I know that no matter how I’m feeling, I will feel better after class (feeling dead tired because your kids keep you up all night? No problem! Go to Bikram! It’s the new sleep) It gives me something that is mine (as a stay at home mom of two with a husband who travels a decent amount for work, I rarely get a chance to be selfish). It gives me something to work towards and be proud of myself when I accomplish a goal.
It gives me a chance to connect with other yogis I wouldn’t encounter in my everyday life and share a laugh and an encouraging word or two. It helps me maintain my calm, easy-going demeanor (I’ve noticed that I don’t sweat the small stuff or get anxious/worked up about stuff like those around me do; some might say I’m blasé about things). It helps me maintain my weight and overall health. It’s so much a part of me now, that it helps me be me.
Check out more inspiring Yoga Stories here.
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Saturday, February 16th – Hot Yoga Workshop, 1:30pm-3:30pm at Meadows Hot Yoga
Saturday, March 2nd – Arm Balancing Workshop, 12:30pm-1:30pm at FUEL: Mind to Body
Saturday, March 16th – Arm Balancing Workshop, 12:30pm-1:30pm at Bikram Yoga Aurora