As for me? I grew up tiny. "Fitness" wasn't in my vocabulary, much less my routine. And like most teenagers, I totally took it for granted.
But as easy as being "skinny" was to me - it was a seriously important part of my identity. I had a lot of pressure on the home front to stay that way.
Entering the college atmosphere was ...shall we say "counter productive" to that end. Social life revolved around meals (and drinks..). The threat of the dreaded "Freshman 15" loomed over me like...
So I found the gym. I would go daily, first to an hour of yoga, then an hour of swimming. (Like Maris though, I found laps impossibly boring.)
It was my first ever experience with yoga, and I was HOOKED. Not good at it necessarily.. but HOOKED.
If you're thinking my motives and habits were unhealthy? You'd be right. Exercise Addiction is definitely a thing. But in my case, it was a symptom of Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
"Wait, isn't this supposed to be a yoga post?" Yes indeed! But you can find the physical benefits of yoga anywhere. (Such as....)
But the most profound benefits I experienced were mental.
See - yoga wasn't just an exercise for my body. It was an exercise for my soul. And if you're thinking "boy that sound cheesy" - I was right there with you when I started. In fact, it took me 5 years into yoga to meet an instructor who made me feel like there WAS a mental - even spiritual? - component to yoga. (Was that a reflection of my previous instructors, or my own state of mind at the time? Doesn't really matter now.)
Yoga is about understanding your body. It's about appreciating your body. And recognizing it's limits. It's about the acceptance that I so desperately needed. Taking the kindness I give to others and sharing some of that with myself.
Which is great news for me - because the (petite, fit) body I was so insecure with for so long eventually had two kids and got diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis. I will spend the rest of my life with a metabolism that just doesn't know what to do, and working with my doctor to find a medication and dosage that will keep my body stable. It's been hard to accept a body that can gain - or drop - 20 lbs in a matter of 6-8 weeks. This particular photo, though not intended to document my weight in any way, shows my body at it's most frail form in the early stages of my thyroid diagnosis:
I'm at the higher end of the spectrum now, and fighting daily to maintain the RIGHT kind of weight, and ditch the rest.
The "right" kind of weight of course is muscle. And yoga helps me with that, too:
If you're all "NO WAY COULD I DO THAT!" - let me just tell you - ME TOO. The best thing my yoga instructor ever did for me was push me, step-by-step, through these elaborate poses. If I knew where she was going, or what the pose was supposed to look like, my brain would have given up before I even started. (Why do we do that to ourselves, anyway?? Many of you are fellow moms. We MADE LIFE. Why do we think we can't run that mile? Or hit that weight lifting goal? That's a rant for another day...) My instructors have, and my body has, consistently disproved every doubt I've had about my body. And when I don't hit a desired pose (and that happens a lot) my new mantra is "It's not in my practice today, but it could be tomorrow." It's so important to me to recognize my limits (in workouts and in life) with grace and gratitude for what I accomplish, not doubt and discouragement over what I can't.
My strength is building, mind and body, and I'm so grateful for the role yoga has played in that journey. My body - like all bodies - is a wonderful, beautiful thing. I haven't loved every shape it's been, but I always appreciate what it can do, what it will do, and what it has done.
So yoga's not your cup of tea? I hope through this tour you've found (or rekindled) a relationship with an activity that makes you feel this way. It's the greatest gift you can give to yourself. Catch up on the week's posts! Click the themes below:
Shout out to my accountability partner! Love you, Daniel :)
I feel silly even needing to state this disclaimer, but "better safe than sorry," they say. The talented women participating in this tour are NOT trained physicians (unless they state otherwise). I hope you find their testimony encouraging and motivating - but they are NOT adequate substitutes for the advice of your own doctor, trainer, or other health professional. Please consult an expert before adjusting or creating your own fitness regimen.