I’ve talked about yoga. I’ve talked about wanting to practice gratitude more. I’ve talked about learning to be kinder to myself. And I’ve recently learned a connection between all of these things.
I do yoga about three times a week, but the Tuesday class is my favorite because of the instructor. Her teaching style really works for me; I challenge all of the elements that I’m there to work on —my mind, my body, my soul. I find peace and rest while my muscles and joints find their edge and surpass it. At the end of each class we always do a meditation and relaxation period. As we were settling into corpse pose, the instructor said, “thank your body for giving you this hour.” It wasn’t something that she hadn’t said before, but this time it struck me. I felt a lump forming in my throat, and it was like I was doing my best dancer’s pose all over again.
I started seeing my body as a separate entity and as an extension of myself at the same time. I know this might sound confusing, but I’ll try to explain. When I saw my body as a separate entity, I realized that I spend so much time criticizing it —when I get dressed in front of the mirror, when I shop, when I shower. I am quick to point out all the lumps and bumps, the squishy parts, the stretch marks, the veins, the different places I want to lose an inch or two. A shopping trip for clothes results in a tirade of insults as I curse my body for being too short, wishing my legs were long and lean rather than disproportionate in the thighs and hips. Viewing my body as its own entity made me realize just how hurtful I was being. Imagine if there was a person you insulted every time you saw them.
And so I took that time, 7 minutes or so, to thank my body for getting me here and there, for being healthy most of the time, for letting me get restful sleep every night, for not hurting, for craving fruits, for loving vegetables, for not having allergies, for giving me an hour of yoga three times a week, for holding dancer’s pose longer than I ever thought it could.
And as I started to see my body as an extension of myself, I realized that my inner mean girl wasn’t as quiet as I thought she had gotten. She was quieter than ever now, but still cruel when she spoke. I still struggle to be kinder to myself; I am still my own worst critic. But that revelation there on that yoga mat helped me realize that being grateful not just for my body but toward it is a big step to being kinder to myself. Namaste.
Love and (a book) light,