“That was the first thing that attracted me to you, the way you carried yourself.” Jake had insisted. I didn’t at first have any clue as to what confidence he had seen in me when we had first began dating almost 6 years ago. “What do you mean the way I carried myself?,” I looked at Jake with a confused but stern look. I began working on my insecurities more than a year ago, shortly after I had started my home yoga practice in 2016.
Before yoga, I wouldn’t dare show a hint of skin other than on my arms and legs on a sunny day. I was too embarrassed. I’ve labored two children and I am left with a reminder of their birth found in the lines that seemed to make some sort of map on my belly and thighs. I had never been comfortable with my own body even before my children had been conceived. Although I had been raised in a decent home, I grew up with mental abuse that left me feeling inadequate and at times ashamed of my skin and every inch that represented me. If only I had a smaller nose, if I was just a little shorter or skinnier, and maybe if I had an hour glass figure. These thoughts ran rapid daily inside the soul of my being. At one point I had developed an eating disorder. I obsessed over my weight and eating habits. Some days I battled binge eating while other days I didn’t eat at all. The scale would determine my punishment each day. I kept everything as secret as I possibly could as not to alarm anyone because I felt I had everything under control. I had lived this way for years and I was growing more tired every moment.
It wasn’t until I began practicing yoga that things started to change. It definitely wasn’t like where one day I woke up and suddenly I had cured myself of depression and anxiety. It was more of a slow process and I didn’t even realize what was happening at the time. It was around 3-4 months into my practice before I had started to shed my layers. I believe it happened the first time I posted a video on Instagram. I posted while inverted in a yoga bra and leggings. I didn’t do it out of spite as to prove something but more or less that I was so concerned about my yoga practice, that I wasn’t as consumed about my insecurities. I was more interested in the positions for which I could scrunch my body into or the extension I could get while inverted or flowing in arm balances. Shocked that I could even do some of the things I had seen on social media after lots of practice, I continued to develop my strength all while noticing my flaws less everyday. I think that is just one of many things about yoga that is healing. Sure the physical practice is what originally lured me into my yoga journey, but soon it became much more than that. The more I learned about the spirituality, the more ambitious I became wanting to experience the different limbs of yoga. It was a while before I fully gave myself to my practice, including spiritually, but it has been worth the struggle and has helped me to open my mind to so many possibilities.
If I told you I was healed and I no longer worried about body image, I’d be lying to you. There are some days I still struggle and worry about the judgement of others, but the spiritual part of this practice is helping me overcome my fears. Anywhere from meditation to yoga teacher training, I feel constant guidance on my path. I’ve never felt like I’ve had the support I needed, until I went on this journey. With plenty of places to turn to and beautiful souls who inspire, for the first time in my life, I feel like I have purpose and I am exactly where I need to be.
How has yoga affected you?