Finally, I hauled myself to a yoga class. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away since the class is given at my local gym, and I often feel that the yoga classes at gyms are only about physical fitness – the inner journey is bleached out in order to not offend or repel anyone. Which is fine, since it’s at a place where people aren’t necessarily looking for spiritual enlightenment, just a good workout! The class was a delight, however. A spirit of non-judgement and encouragement to “not look like your neighbor” pervaded.
During that class, I was rooted in my practice and in my body. Because of my concerns for my physical condition, I am careful to only hold poses when I can maintain alignment, and then release out of them when I start to tense or strain. I don’t get to practice asana with a mirror very often, so being able to check myself out was a treat too! I didn’t want to stare but one time, I just did. We were in a warrior variation and, looking to check my knees, hips, and shoulders, I saw the beauty of my body… Not the outside, curvy stuff but the internal workings. My muscles and bones holding me in the posture, my lungs taking in air, all my organs just quietly doing their business – secreting and excreting and filtering and distributing.
I thought “Wow that’s so beautiful!” I thought, “Wow I’m so freaking strong.” I thought “Thank you for this moment.” And then I didn’t need the mirror anymore. Shutting my eyes and following my breath, I cultivated that awe and wonder. After class I shared it with the gals I had taken the class with (including teacher herself, a good friend) and they knew exactly what I meant.
Many of us spend a lot of time wishing things were different with our physical condition, and very little time celebrating all the proper functions. Today is Valentine’s Day, and often the focus is on candies and hearts and flowers, high expectations and romantic pressures abound. I suggest a moment – maybe before you really get out there and start throwing cards at people – to send a little mental Valentine to your body’s functions that you ignore all other times, since they work so well and are so humble they never even draw your attention to the fact that they are, you know… keeping you alive.
Regardless of your shape (which typically you have some control over), your body is beautiful. It’s a vessel for your soul, your essence. It’s an intricate machine that totes your consciousness. Even if you’re not a fan of your size, or your poor eyesight, or your IBS, or your aching feet… it’s all a part of you and it helps to shape your reality. Even if it frequently disappoints you, until science can manage otherwise your body is the only one you’re going to have. Even if you feel betrayed by it, like I sometimes do (like we all sometimes do!), it is still the only thing keeping you rooted in this world. So give it some props today. Stop wishing it was some other, better body.
If we want to get even more advanced, let’s take a day to listen to it, to give it what it wants instead of wrestling it to the ground and making it our bitch all the time. Let’s let it be the boss for once. Who knows what could happen? If you try this and it works (or doesn’t), please let me know. I’d love to hear how you cultivated your practice of listening to your body, and what you discovered in that process.