After 50 years of dragging this body around, yoga has enabled me to live in it!
It’s been over seven years since I decided to give the “Yoga for the Larger Woman” class a try. I didn’t really expect to like it, but I was curious – and I’d also been looking for a graceful way to exit a book club I had joined. At first everything, from climbing up one flight of stairs to actually participating in the class, was difficult. I was ashamed of being so out of shape. And coming to class meant that I couldn’t ignore this or pretend that I’d “get right on it” later.
Initially attending class once or twice a week didn’t seem like much. After all, it was a larger women’s class, and we wouldn’t be doing “real yoga”. So I didn’t expect a lot. But after awhile I noticed I was having less back pain, and people were beginning to ask me what was different. I’d think about my answer, but it wasn’t something I could easily identify, and certainly not something I was ready to share. I was actually “doing” yoga. I, a morbidly obese, middle aged, very self-conscious woman, was trying to fit into the persona of a yogini. Who was I kidding? But I kept going. I had to. I was becoming addicted to both the encouragement of my teacher and the experience of feeling better mentally, as well as physically.
I was a little disappointed when, after a few years, I hadn’t achieved “gumby” status or really lost any significant weight. I had assumed that both would be bestowed upon me for just making the effort to show up to class. It wasn’t until I embraced and developed my daily home practice that the expectations of what “should be” were brought to light and challenged.
Around the same time, the thought hit me that I had been dragging this body around for all these past 50 years instead of really living in it. It came to me that I had not claimed this body, not moved into this body. I was renting it, but I didn’t live there. I didn’t want to live there-in the “undesirable” section of town.
That began to change though when I realized no amount of wishing, bargaining or promising will change the fact that this is my body and that it benefits me greatly to “step up” and partner with my abilities, instead of wishing that things were different. And I have learned that I can do a good deal more than I might have thought by being centered within myself and trusting the intuition that is there. It has taken awhile, but I have learned that for me yoga is not about the preconceived notions I have or the picture perfect images I see in yoga magazines. My yoga is about me finding myself and “us” joining together for a more vibrant experience of my life.
Truth be told, I keep doing yoga because I’m afraid not to; I don’t want my life to go back to the way it was. If you’ve ever considered trying yoga but are afraid you’re just “not the type” or “I couldn’t do it”….I’d say try it anyway. Those “helpful” ideas running around in your head are only thoughts, not reality. Your yoga practice is just that – YOUR practice. Start out doing what you can and listen to your body not your head. The benefits are worth the effort, and it’s a whole lot better than pharmaceuticals and way cheaper than therapy!