Archives for Yoga
Does this sound like your morning: You wake up to your alarm, grab your phone and start scrolling social media, news headlines and your inbox. You learn about something terrible or tragic, something you can't shake. Your mind focuses on the 100 tasks you need to do before 10 a.m. Or it turns to a few or a slew of negative, worrisome thoughts. Or you jump out of bed, already fearful that you forgot something. Or you sleep walk from your bed to the bathroom (and likely trip on something on your way). Or you beg the kids to start brushing their teeth, and sprint into the kitchen to start breakfast. And you already feel behind.
Working out has become synonymous with weight loss or maintenance. That is, we assume that people only work out --- that we should work out --- to lose weight or to maintain our weight. This is often why exercise is thought of as a chore. As a necessary evil. As a punishment for eating dessert or consuming too many carbs or fat grams. As a way to burn calories. And nothing else.
Here's what is so awesome about appreciating our bodies: We don't need to wait until we lose weight or change anything else about our appearance to do so. You can begin embracing your body right now. I hope these suggestions provide a helpful start:
In the beautiful book Yoga and Body Image, 25 contributors share personal stories about how yoga has helped them to accept their bodies and feel more comfortable in their own skin. They talk about how yoga has helped them to find their voice and express it. This is so important, because we often forget what movement really is (and isn't). Moving our bodies isn't about punishing ourselves for eating something "naughty" or "sinful." It isn't about checking off a chore on our to-do list. It isn't about "no pain, no gain." It has nothing to do with being miserable or being bored.
This week on "Make a Mess," my creativity blog, I wrote about looking outside myself for answers. I assumed that other people knew better what I needed and wanted. And I assumed that those people also deserved to have a say. (Many of them did not.) Unwittingly, I placed the power that belonged to me in their hands. Not only did I often remove myself from the discussion, I removed myself from the entire room. But here's a vital realization: We have the answers inside us. They are within. We just need to listen.
The beautiful and intimidating thing about yoga is that it's a time to stop and be still. It's a time to be quiet with ourselves. Which many of us don't do very often. The other types of exercises I do are mostly high intensity (which I also love). Go. Go. Go. We sprint from one exercise to another, from running the stairs to doing push-ups to doing burpees. And even though I work from home, my thoughts are usually focused on articles and ideas and errands and to-dos. Even when I'm relaxing, it's not the same as whatever happens when I'm practicing yoga.
Many of us leap to conclusions when it comes to our bodies. For instance, we assume that if a piece of clothing doesn't fit us, it's clearly our fault. It must be because we're too curvy, our shoulders are too broad, our thighs are too big, our waist is too wide. We do this with other things, activities and even people. Some of us play this blame game regularly. In the excellent book Yoga and Body Image, co-editor Anna Guest-Jelley shares the different ways she blamed her body.
I've had an on again, off again relationship with yoga. Years ago I'd attend yoga classes at my gym several times a week. Today, I attend one class, and that's after stopping for several months. Still I find yoga to be beautiful and very challenging. A big challenge for me is Savasana, the final pose in a yoga class. As Cheryl Strayed writes in the book Going Om: Real-Life Stories On and Off the Yoga Mat, edited by Melissa Carroll, Savasana is known as "corpse" pose. Years ago, Strayed's yoga instructor acknowledged that this is the most difficult pose -- even though all you're doing is lying down, on your mat, on your back.
A positive body image goes beyond liking your looks. It encompasses taking good care of yourself and leading a fulfilling life. In this weekly series, I share some of my favorite posts from some of my favorite bloggers on this topic. Sometimes I also share relevant pieces that I’ve written elsewhere. Hope you find these links inspiring! Our rallying cry. 8 questions to consider before committing to a goal.
Every Monday features a tip, activity, inspiring quote or some other tidbit that helps boost your body image, whether directly or indirectly — and hopefully kick-starts the week on a positive note! Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at mtartakovsky at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to feature it. A few weeks ago I shared how we can be just 10 percent kinder. Because kindness is an important part of cultivating a positive body image and taking better care of ourselves.