I have a yogi friend that I follow on Instagram. He posts photos of beautiful, gravity-defying poses that take my breath away. How does the human body do that? I have another friend that I’ve known since high school. We both started practicing about 20 years ago, but she does it #everydamnday and can turn her body into a pretzel. These are not the reasons why I do yoga. I’ll never be able to balance on one hand or flatten my splits to the floor. But I still do it. Week in, and week out—I do it, while my body stays pretty much the same. Because there’s a more important reason why I do yoga.
I don’t practice yoga because I think it will flatten my stomach or shrink my ass.
I pointed to a figure who was probably a size or two smaller than me—and then stopped. I flashed back to the years of excruciating body anxiety that I experienced as a teenager and wondered what kind of example I was setting—choosing as an ideal a shape that wasn’t mine.
Then I remembered a recent conversation with my daughter, who tapped me on the behind and said, “Mom, you have a big ass.” I turned on her—furious at the insult—and she laughed and said, “Relax, mom. That’s a compliment!” What I see as too big, she embraces as “bootylicious.”
My new affirmation? I may never be skinny, but I can be strong.
And in creating that strength, I learned to stop hating my body. I stopped starving and bingeing. I threw away my scale and began to…I wouldn’t say embrace, but definitely accept, my curves. My new affirmation? I may never be skinny, but I can be strong.
I don’t practice yoga because I think it will flatten my stomach or shrink my ass. Why I do yoga is because I believe it will be the boat that I ride into old age, protecting me from an ocean of physical pain and emotional isolation.
I believe yoga will be the boat that I ride into old age, protecting me from an ocean of physical pain and emotional isolation.
So when the personal trainer asked me what I was going to do to achieve my goal, I laughed and told him that I didn’t expect to. “I eat healthy. I walk and do yoga several times a week. This is the shape I’m meant to have—I’m happy with my body.” My daughter smiled.
I wish I’d said that in the first place.
P.S. That’s my aunt in the photograph. Amazing, right?