So maybe in the past I’ve been just a tad focused on bigger, better, faster. Maybe. Maybe I’ve been all like, “MUD! MUSCLES! MARATHON! PR!” and not so much like, “ommmm.” Perhaps.
But now I have my new mantra (remember STFD? Go back. Read. Catch up.) And I’m totally sticking to it. I have been practicing yoga mostly daily and developing a deep and personal bond with Rodney Yee via my television. And I have noticed a funny thing. Actually, a few funny things.
1. Yoga, when I focus and relax into the practice, makes me take up more space in the world. I am not posing to minimize my thighs, to lose my belly fat, or to tone my arms (although, hello bonuses!). I keep coming back to it because it makes me feel ENORMOUS. When I float up from a forward bend and back into mountain pose, I am a warrior. I am taller and wider and my soul – yes, I have one! – is bigger than my body. This happens every time I practice. It’s pleasantly addictive after so many years focused on taking up less space. To be more feels AMAZING. Try it. Please.
2. When I work out, I do so in front of a mirror. When I lift, I quite enjoy watching my muscles strain and work and contract. I feel badass and I like that. I like it a lot. When I do cardio like TurboFire or Hip Hop Abs, I like to watch my booty shake and see myself throwing punches. I feel sexy and badass and I like that. I like it a lot. When I practice yoga, I close my eyes. My gaze turns inward. I like to feel my muscles stretch and work and expand. I like to feel the stillness and my inner strength. I feel connected and calm and I like that. I like that the most.
3. I fall in love with my body a little more every time I roll out that mat. Despite a (mostly) Paleo diet, a pretty intense workout ethic, and a serious love of body wraps, I still carry a tiny pooch and some not-so-firm belly skin. When I bend forward in one-legged staff pose, it folds inward. When I hang in wide-leg forward bend, it does too. When I noticed this, I smiled. I love my belly. It’s evidence I carried my babies just under that skin. I also have strong and thick thighs. They shake a little when I hold an extra long warrior one or half moon. When I stand in mountain pose, there is no thigh gap. I love my thighs. They are like great tree trunks rooted into the earth and holding me high and firm.
4. Sometimes in the middle or at the end of my practice, when I am sinking further into my body and my center, I feel a lump in my throat and hot tears behind my eyelids. It is not sadness, but catharsis. It is my body’s way of releasing all the silly tension I carry (the laundry will never be caught up; the floors will never get refinished; the dog will never be fully housetrained and we will have to buy stock in Swiffer). I find myself anticipating these moments. I used to get them too, during my long runs, and I also looked forward to them then. It is the moment when I lose myself completely and give myself over to the universe, the higher power, God – whatever your version is. It is so brief, too brief. And yet it is powerful enough to pull me back on my mat every day.
So there you have it. I am full of hippy dippy feelings and all that shit. (And yes, I will be sarcastic about it before you have the chance to roll your eyes at my newfound spiritual depth.)
Ommm, my bitches. Namaste.