The Moment I Stepped on my Mat!
Run a 10k; get the inner thigh gap, and fit into a size 2. That is happiness, right? That will make life perfect will it not? Eat clean, green and lean… that is the way, isn’t it?
While I would never go so far as to say that these are wrong I would not technically go so far as to say that are right, either.
Before I go too much further, I feel a disclaimer of sorts needs to be presented: This is my story; these are my words. This is by no means me suggesting that it would work for you, or that it is in anyway true for you either. But if you do take something from my words, really let them sink in. Think about them for a while. It might change a lot of how you think. And, if I am lucky, further ignite your passion (or growing passion) for yoga.
What if I told you that short of running a 10k (which, for reasons I will address later, I will never be able to do)? What if you knew that I was a size two with an increased gap between my thighs and I only ate green vegetables and lean protein? Then, what if I told you that during that time I was the most miserable I have ever been?
I heard these things, myself. I had people telling me that they only way to achieve an ideal life was to follow these rules, along with a multitude of others. You’ve heard them: don’t eat past seven (it does nothing bad to your body but maybe give you heart burn if it is something heavy); don’t finish when you’re tired, finish when you’re done (though, to me the two are synonymous); if you are not sweating, you’re not working hard enough (though sweat is just our bodies way of cooling down and is by no means indicative of actually working hard).
After hearing them over and over and over (and over) again, I decided to subscribe to them. So I cut out all packaged foods of any variety, work-out for 40-75 minutes daily and, wait for it… cut back my caloric intake by about… half. So put it all together: I was working out extremely hard… and eating half of what my body needed if I was not working out at all. I was thin, so I was smiling. I had a six pack, so I was pumped (both … literally and figuratively) but I was not happy. Not even a little bit.
I started to sacrifice things: my friends (lost them all), almost lost the love of my life because I was too dedicated to my workout regime to give him any attention at all; I started getting really dry skin (my feet are now embarrassments with weird dry patches all over the soles); I lost my ability to do high impact or intensity work outs (until told otherwise); I could not get warm; I lost some of the hair on my head, but the hair growing thick on my arms to keep me warm made up for it. I lost the bits of me that make me a woman – the capacity to one day cry as I see the face of my newborn baby (hopefully not an irreversible thing). And worst of all, I lost the ability to laugh. Think about the most recent joke you heard and think about how hard you laughed. Now, imagine you did not have the energy to laugh at hard. So, instead, you scoffed at humour because you were sad you did not get to enjoy it.
I am not looking for pity. And I am not saying that since this happened to me, this will happen to you. Not even in the slightest. All I am attesting to is that, just because the magazines, and Pinterest (or other social media outlets) are telling you that there are these rules to abide by should you want to be at optimal health, by no means indicates that those are things you… you… should follow.
After roughly three to four years of this life, my body could not take it anymore. I was 30-40 pounds underweight and… I will be honest, I was scared. I was tired, too, tired of hating my body. I wanted to eat cookies if I wanted cookies, take a day off from exercising, if I was feeling sick (like a flu…) and I wanted to cultivate a love for myself. But I did not know how to find that love.
Then, I found it.
A lot of people ask me: why yoga? And this is the only answer I have.
Photo Credit: Jenn Gregory Photography
Yoga is forgiving. It is thoughtful and it is kind. It does not judge, nor does it bark orders. Yoga is patient: it lets you figured out where you need to be and how it is you need to get there. Yoga is you; you are your own yoga. The postures, the teachers and the sequences provided are just there to act as your inspiration. They allow you to come to your own conclusions and make your own choices. They let you discover how you need to move; they let you open up to what you are feeling.
Since beginning a steady yoga practice I have restored my weight. I have gained 20-30 pounds and feel stronger, healthier, and brighter. I have honestly abandoned all other forms of traditional exercise (aside from the occasional dance party and barre routine). Now, you might be thinking: wait – I am trying to lose weight… does this mean yoga isn’t for me? Notice I did not use the phrase ‘gained weight’ but rather ‘restored’. My body needed weight gain, and should your body need to shed something, yoga will give you that too. But in a way that reminds you what really matters. It works from the inside out. Instead of just simply trying to reshape your thighs, it restores your internal body, allowing your outer body to follow.
I know yoga is scary. My former relationship with food and exercise has left a residual element of low self-esteem. As a result, my yoga practice remained in the comfort of my own home – just as I liked it. But something was missing. Until now, I had no idea what: a yoga community; a family of yoga-lovers to connect and share with. So, I get it. I know your hesitation – in not only trying yoga, but also going to yoga. But you know what else is scary? Love. And you don’t see people shying from some form of that all too often, do you? I promise you the moment you open up yourself to all that yoga has to offer you, you’ll never turn back… in fact you’ll likely run toward it , arms wide open, for more. I promise you that it will change your life. Maybe it will even save it.
It saved mine. Caitlyn.