Is anyone 100% in love with their bodies? Probably. I’m very envious of them because, as hard as I try, I always find fault. That’s not to say I don’t love my body, because I do. I’m here to share how yoga made me love my body. I wasn’t always this loving; I think most girls (and some boys) have a similar memory of picking themselves apart in front of a mirror. Something isn’t right, something doesn’t look like the magazines and my friends all have perfect *insert body part* and I don’t.
We probably also have a memory of a ‘friend’ giving you an indirect insult delivered with a smile on their faces. You know what that is? It’s their insecure demon rearing its delicate ego taking a punch at you to make themselves feel better. You know what angers insecure people? Secure people who are genuinely happy with themselves. I’d like to say this wears off when you grow older, but it doesn’t. I can’t speak for men, but for women, we begin to age and those with insecurities simply find more fault as the ageing process sets in.
What I’m trying to say is that you can’t rely on others to help you love your body; you’re not sure what their motives are. The ego really creates undercover monsters and you need to find your own strength to love yourself without taking on that evil residue.
I wrote a post on getting started with yoga and I hope after you finish reading this, you’ll read that post and be inspired to get started!
How yoga made me love my body
I found yoga in my late teens when my body was young, supple and toned. I was a sportswoman at school so I didn’t have troubles with my weight, but that didn’t mean I loved my body. On the contrary, I picked my body apart more then than I did in later years. The asanas (poses) came naturally to me and I found myself flourishing in this new practice. I strayed for several years and did a lot of partying, eating absolute crap for years and total neglect of self-love. I will get into this time of my life in the future; I’m nowhere near ready to talk about it.
My body was unrecognizable at this point. The years of abuse to myself left its mark and I just felt… horrendous. Unfit and uninspired, I’m not sure how, but I found myself back on my mat. The reason I mentioned the first time I did yoga versus the time I returned to the practice, is what a couple of years of debauchery can do to one’s body. I struggled with everything and I absolutely hated that feeling. Being weak at such a young age made me feel like a useless human.
The road to loving your body
I kept going back and slowly started gaining strength. Every time I conquered a new asana (pose) a feeling of gratitude and love overwhelmed my body. Yoga made me love my body again. I got giddy and literally applauded myself at every accomplishment. Feeling strong and proud in your own skin is a wonderful feeling; something that I can’t live without.
And then… I got sick. I’ve had several Doctors tell me I have Crohn’s disease or another similar IBD but, to be honest, I gave up giving a shit at actually naming it. It ripped through my body and literally took everything from me. I still remember waking up at night in so much pain that I felt lightheaded. Something my mom and I still talk about is the time I called her in absolute sobs just screaming ‘why is this happening to me?’ I was constantly in indescribable pain and practising yoga was heartbreaking. One day, I’d be able to stay in plank for 2-minutes and the next morning I’d be unable to hold my bodyweight for a second. I was robbed of strength and it was damaging to my mental state. I was horrendously depressed for months and I couldn’t even find the strength to be me.
Putting myself through the emotional rollercoaster of continuing my practice may seem crazy but to me, those days where I could find my strength completely outweighed the days of weakness. Those moments of accomplishing through the strength of my body made me realize that one day I could completely regain my strength.
Practising Yoga with an IBD
To be honest, I still have horrendous days with my digestive issues. Sometimes weeks, but they are nothing like what they used to be. My stress level at the time was also a major factor and I’ve since learned to serve myself; eradicating what stresses me out. I’ve learned to love my sometimes broken body. She isn’t always working properly but whenever I get on my mat and accomplish something, I just feel this overwhelming love towards it. We are capable of so much; we barely scratch the surface in regards to our abilities. Yoga helps me realize that my body is something to be idolized, not critiqued.
Changing your mindset in regards to body image
I remember getting out of yoga class on a really bad day where I couldn’t do anything and crying for about an hour. The anger towards my body was overwhelming; I couldn’t believe how useless I was. I was comparing myself to older people accomplishing more and I felt like a complete failure. How could you betray me like that, body? You’re so weak, body!
Words with so much anger attached to them can never accomplish anything worthwhile. At that moment, I realized how damaging my own thoughts were. My mind doesn’t respond well to such anger – why would my body? I started celebrating the small victories and writing them down to commit them to memory. This was around two years ago and I haven’t come close to perfecting it, but it’s a reaction I’m getting better at. I remember writing down small accomplishments like:
- Held Warrior 2 for 30 seconds without coming out of it
- Managed a gentle rotation without wincing
- Lay on my stomach
- Lifted my feet in crow
Going back to the basics in yoga
I’m in love with going back to basics because it’s what I have to do continuously. Instead of being angry that I have to ‘start again’ I find pleasure in watching my body regain strength. I marvel at what my body can do and thank it after every practice – shaky or strong.
Stop thinking of all the things your body isn’t and start thinking of all the amazing things it is.
What your body is:
- Something that allows you to function as a human
- Allows you to absorb energy and actively do things
- Allows you to have thought
- Houses your vital organs and processors on a daily basis
- Takes a serious beating of all the abuse we throw at it and continues to function for us
- Allows us to see the most incredible things
Stop with the hate – the world does that enough – the kindness needs to start with you.