So, I just wanted to share something that has been making a big difference in my life recently.
Many of you know that I was abused as a child. The result of that in adult life, (among many other things), has been a complete disconnect to my body.
Over the years of much counselling and dang hard work, I have managed to overcome many things, but the disconnect to my body is still incredibly difficult. It’s more than not loving the body I am in. It is about feeling that this body has let me down or isn’t good enough. That fundamentally, it is flawed. Now I know in my head that this is untrue, but my heart has been a shy and reluctant believer.
This year the word I chose to focus my intentions is PEACE. And finally, I have decided that it is time to have peace within my body. To really belong inside the skin I was born in and to once again own my body and reclaim my own sense of beauty and worth. No small task.
My first commitment was to stop pushing myself with exercise to go faster and harder. This journey was to be a GENTLE one. If I was going to look in the mirror and ever feel that I loved my body I had to be gentle about the process.
So, I quit the gym. Yup. Quit. Cold turkey.
No biggie perhaps, but for me it felt huge. I have always worked out on some level, but it has never been about gentleness. If I am really honest, and I am trying to be, then exercise has almost been a punishment for my body. Something I did to reject myself further. Now I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but for me with my past of abuse, it certainly was.
And then, as so often happens when we let go of something that isn’t right for us, something that WAS right for me came along. I started doing online yoga in the privacy of my own home.
Now I have tried yoga before. The whole mind body connection has been recommended to me numerous times even by counsellors. And I’d like to say this, (especially to any professionals reading this post out there), yoga is incredibly confronting for someone who cannot connect to their body.
Getting into strange poses felt like a loss of control. No small reminder of what happened to me when I was a child. And having to hold poses for long periods of time felt like being trapped or pinned down. Again, no small flash back to personal trauma. And the sound of my own deep breathing?…Freak me out!
So, what was different about this yoga?
Well, firstly, it’s at home and not with others. That’s important to me. I couldn’t do this work in a class situation. Not yet.
And second, and most important- I met Adriene.
She is a softly spoken and gentle yoga teacher. On her videos she actively encourages you to move around and play with poses. She encourages you NOT to hold positions that don’t feel comfortable and to find what feels good on the yoga mat even if that means, (shock, horror), completely stepping away from the traditional yoga positions and doing something that feels right for your body. Throughout the yoga videos she speaks such wisdom. Words inviting me to notice how I feel, to be okay with whatever those feelings are and to pull out of any position that feels wrong. Adriene seldom holds any position for long periods of time, which means I never feel trapped or overwhelmed. She often says to simply go with whatever breath feels right. She says things like, “You’re my hero today just for showing up on the yoga mat!”
No judgement. No strict adherence to ‘yoga positions’. And no long work outs with super long holds in strange shapes.
In short- she is UNORTHODOX.
And I love her for it.
I get to play around with movement. I notice how I feel. I ask myself if this movement feels right or wrong. I take heed of my inner response to that question. And little by little I am beginning to value that I listen to myself. I don’t force myself into positions. I am not trapped. I am not held down (yes, we can hold ourselves down in many ways) I am free to explore what feels good!
I have a long way to go, but my hope is that this will be the year I can stand butt naked, in the privacy of my own room, look in the mirror and say, “That is my body and I love it!”
Yeah, that could sound weird to you, but if I get to that point, trust me when I tell you, a MASSIVE battle will have been won.
My body will belong to me again.
Oh, and did I mention that Adriene has a yoga dog? Yup. So when my chihuahua joins me on the yoga mat I also have a yoga dog. And there are many times when patting her fur is enough to help me breathe deeper and be braver.
So, to all of you women out there who don’t really love your body…maybe you even hate your body, I see you. I understand. Oh, do I ever understand that. I am wondering if you too might make this your year to begin to love the skin you were born in?
Standing butt naked in front of the mirror is optional :)