Moving your body. Exercising. Training. There are lots of ways we can describe this seemingly simple thing, yet it can be incredibly complicated and difficult for some of us.
There are physical challenges that arise, but more often the mental and emotional blocks are deeper and more challenging to face.
I was born into a family that was fairly average as far as activity went. As kids we ran around the backyard and played catch with our Dad. Always at the park, on our bikes, playing on the swings or getting into some other type of trouble.
Being active was rarely a structured activity for me. I was put in many sports as a kid, but one by one dropped out of them all. For some it was simply that I didn't enjoy the activity, while for others (I see you swimming...) it was really because I was terrified of being seen. Of having to be in a changeroom, a swimsuit, and then a pool with a bunch of girls who would tease me and bully me. So I took the easy way out and left. I quit every sport I was ever put in.
When I was 10 I discovered horseback riding, and for the next 7 or so years of my life I spent every waking hour obsessing about horses and volunteering then working at my local ranch. I was leading trail rides, caring for the horses and property, and making many friends along the way. As an insecure kid who was afraid of being seen, I had found my perfect activity! The dress code at the ranch was jeans, boots, and comfortable t-shirts. Basically the uniform of an insecure teenage girl! Woohoo!
As I got older and my horseback riding became less and less a part of my life, it wasn't replaced by anything active. I hadn't found that new thing that made me happy. That got my body moving and helped to keep me healthy. Honestly for quite a few years of my life I was drifting. Lost as to where to go or what to do.
That, not surprisingly, reflected in my activity. I got a gym membership, went for a few weeks, then quit. Then a few months later did it all again. I worked with a trainer for a bit, but then quit. Hiked occasionally. Was too afraid to join a team sport, so I sat on the sidelines and watched.
Nothing I was doing felt good. I knew that I "should" be moving my body every day. I knew that it was good for my physical health and my mental well being. I wanted to be able to fit in with my friends and my partner at the time who was quite an athlete. I just didn't get it. Why did these people choose to go out of their way and do these activities? To do things that made them sweaty and sore? And to do things in front of people where they would have to be seen? That was scary to me and seemed like a form of torture. No thanks!
This all changed when I was introduced to yoga by a good friend. She had started going to a local studio and convinced me to come along. I was terrified of being seen (spandex!!!), of being the biggest girl in the room, of being laughed at, and of having a horrible reception from the teacher. I played all of the negative scenarios over in my head, but she somehow managed to get me there anyway.
I will be forever grateful she did! That one yoga class changed my life.
I found myself in a hot, darkened room with a wonderfully kind teacher. I was surrounded by men and women of all shapes and sizes. Some very petite and athletic wearing the latest yoga gear, and others not in great shape wearing old shorts and t-shirts. I was so caught up in my head that class just trying to keep up and follow the instructions given, that by the end I realized I hadn't thought at all about how I looked. I hadn't had the usual fears and worries creep in. I was shocked!
That evening my life was changed. I had discovered a way of moving my body that felt amazing! A way of moving that was all about me on my mat. What those around me did or did not do wasn't my concern. This was my practice with myself. And their practices were with themselves. Looking around that room I realized I was the only one doing it... Nobody else cared what I was doing or how I looked. Not one person looked back at me. The only eyes I met were of my teacher who gave me a reassuring smile as she guided us through the class. I felt supported and safe. Like I belonged. Finally.
One of the beautiful things about yoga to me is that it is an activity that from the outside seems quite superficial. Advertisements will tell you that you must have the latest gear. Those new butt-lifting yoga pants, the latest pro-series mat, a cute skin tight top and even a trendy sports bra. You need to be able to twist into all sorts of complicated poses, have rock hard abs, a tight butt, and look absolutely gorgeous when you're sweaty and exhausted.
My experience has been the polar opposite!!
Yoga is the union between body and breath. Between body and spirit. Between you and yourself. For me it is the ultimate mirror. Things I'm afraid of on the mat are inevitably the same types of things I'm afraid of in real life. How I deal with the challenges during my practice is likely the same tactics I'm using every day in different situations.
My yoga is for me. I've done yoga in classes with a lot of structure. Worn the trendy yoga clothes and done my best to "look the part". I've also done plenty of yoga at home. In my pajamas, in t-shirts with holes in them. And naked. Some practices push me more physically, while others push me more mentally. Sometimes we need to be stretched, and other times we need to be held and caressed and cared for. Yoga can do this and more, if you let it. Yoga doesn't care what you look like. It cares that you've shown up on your mat. Whatever energy you give out during a practice you'll get back tenfold.
My journey of finding a way of moving my body that feels amazing to me has been (and continues to be) one full of ups and downs. Some days I've wanted to quit, sit on the couch and just give up. That's called being human. But for the most part I'm just pumped that I get to have this body that is capable of moving!
Yoga has been one of the biggest and most powerful tools on my body love journey. Doing yoga was the first time I'd ever found a way of moving my body that felt phenomenal! Observing the physical changes I went through over the course of many years was awesome... I was able to observe my strength. My stamina, flexibility and grace. I was able to appreciate my body for all that it could do instead of what it looked like.
Yoga led me down a path of gratitude for my body. This body is my home. She needs to be cared for in every possible way. Sometimes pushed, other times held softly. My heart beats and keeps my alive. My lungs breathe effortlessly. My immune system, nervous system, and digestive tract work seamlessly with no thought from me. My body is a miracle, and being on this ride is phenomenal.
So discovering a way of moving my body that felt as good as it does was a life-changer. I'd found a way to keep my mind healthy. To keep my body healthy. To support myself. To have fun and escape the pressures of life.
Over the years yoga has gone from being sporadic, to regular, to sporadic, to none at times. Back to regular. And for the past 3 years or so, it's been an almost daily practice. When something feels this good, why wouldn't it be? When the alternative is going back to feeling sluggish and unhappy in my body, this is the obvious choice for me. It is a big enough motivator to keep me coming back day after day.
Do you have a way of moving your body that just feels incredible? That connects you to the truest essence of you? If yes then rock on! If no then it's never too late! There's always time to find what you love and find what feels great in your skin. Just start experimenting! Is your thing hiking? Dancing? Skiing or snowboarding? Surfing or cycling? The choices only end when your creativity runs out!
I encourage you to find something that works your body and calms your mind. That pushes you and improves your physical health while at the same time supporting your mental well being.
We all have things that make us uniquely who we are. Maybe it's time for you to find that thing that makes you the healthiest, happiest version of you that you can be!
In health and happiness,
Are you ready for more Body Loving tips & tricks?
Check out this FREE Healthy Body Love Habits Checklist.
It is full of things that I do daily for my physical, mental & emotional health and that keep me lovin' on my body and that YOU can do too!!
It is a PERFECT first step.
Click here to access it (inside the teaser module!)