I started practicing yoga, because my life was pretty broken.
My daughter had just been diagnosed with autism – and my personal demons were louder than ever. Tired of seeking out therapists and relying on my vices of food and red wine – I knew that I had to seek out healing – and I decided to give yoga a whirl.
It was through my practice that the voices of self-judgement began to quiet down – my heart started to un-break a little – and my body & heart began to be stronger – more flexible – and stable. I slowly became more mindful of my body – and the tools and techniques I used to cope with stress. Yoga was for me – and I was in love!
Fast forward 6 years – I am now a yoga teacher who tries to peek her head out into the community when time permits (which truly isn’t much these days!). I have kept largely quiet about my physical transformation, because the spiritual transformation has been the larger of the two. I also still fight with my own insecurities – and respect teachers with all body sizes. We are all on different journeys – and I never want to discount the journey of another teacher or student.
My life journey has been one that is littered with extremely low self esteem- eating disorders and self hatred. I always felt like everyone else had the secret or the key to life – and I obviously would never figure it out.
I grew up as an overweight child – and was an overweight teenager – weighing 220 pounds in my freshman year of high school.
I was terribly shy – and unsure of myself – and I put myself on many diets and exercise programs to lose the weight. I always talked to myself in a very mean and condescending way in order to shed the pounds. I was constantly punishing and restricting myself, and I didn’t allow myself to enjoy my life.
I was able to starve myself down by 85 pounds by my senior year of high school – but the weight loss was short lived – and I gained it all back and more by the time I reached my 20th birthday.
I was able to lose and re-gain the weight 2 more times before my 30th birthday, but It was actually 6 months before my 29th birthday that I lost all the weight again and started a consistent yoga practice.
A little over 6 years later – and I can honestly say that this is the longest time in my life that I have not been overweight by medical guidelines for my height and frame.
I do not owe this dramatic change in my life to any miracle diets or weight loss drugs. This change in my life is due to the spiritual surgery I have undergone in my yogic journey.
I have learned to love and respect my body by living my yoga practice off of the mat.
When I am feeling intensity in my practice – I remind myself to – breathe, engage – and let go of the results. Learning how to sit with my feelings – even when they aren’t awesome – has transformed my life. We must learn how to face fear and difficulty head on – and look it straight in the eye. It is only through that process that the old parts of ourselves that no longer serve us can truly fall away.
On my yoga mat – I have also learned to stop comparing myself to others – and imagining that everyone else holds a secret to life that I am missing.
We all show up to our mat with our stories – strengths – weaknesses – sadness – joy – and things that make us individual. The body holds all of these things within each one of us, and it is completely unfair for me to compare my yoga practice to that of another.
I still have my days where I show up and feel like a complete phony, and that my cover will be blown. I worry that people won’t want to take my class, because I’m not as athletic as some teachers. There are days I can hold arm balances – and days that I fall flat on my face with each attempt.
However – the truth of the matter is that we are all just showing up and doing our best on this path. My students – my teachers – and my friends have always shown me love, compassion & encouragement to keep going – keep shining – and to drop the self criticism out of my dialogue.
If there is such a thing is a yoga for weight loss story – this is mine. My body has stayed at a healthy weight for the last 6 years – but the real “weight loss” has been the weight of my own insecurities, self hatred and doubt. I feel lighter in my soul and spirit – because I love who I am as a person on most days. I love to laugh a lot – because despite all my struggles – I am a pretty happy soul – and I do my best to accept all parts of me.
And in the end – when we can begin to learn love and acceptance for ourselves – (flaws, fears and struggles included!) – we are closer to the light.