Your body is beautiful, love yourself, let go of what is no longer serving you. These are all things I have definitely said on multiple occasions to both friends and yoga students.
Guess what, I’m horrible at practicing what I preach. Yep, I said it. I am judgmental and cruel to myself about my body. I convince myself that I am not worthy because I have a belly and thighs; that for some reason it makes me less of a teacher, less of a human.
Yesterday, I was at the studio (One Down Dog) with my friend who was working the desk. I was showing her the leftover clothes from our clothing swap and decided to try on a pair of pants I had missed. They didn’t fit my thighs. I took them off, and took a good look at my legs. My first instinct was to think: shit I used to be able to fit into pants way smaller than this just a couple of years ago. Instead, what came out of my mouth shocked me, “My thighs are so solid and muscular it’s crazy! I see myself in the mirror on the rare occasion I wear shorts and there is a lot of definition.” After saying this I immediately thought, did that just come out of my mouth? (And yes, I did say on the rare occasion I wear shorts). Was I… bragging about the size of my thighs? What kind of weird alternate reality did I just enter that I was actually drawing attention to the size of my body?
I went about my business the rest of the evening and the words that I said kept creeping back into my head. I have a lot of insecurities when it comes to my body, I see the imperfections on every inch of me; from my skin to my arms, my back to my feet, my hair to my knees. Nothing is okay as it is. It’s all bad, it’s all ugly. These are the things I waste countless hours dwelling about and thinking about. It’s never good enough.
Fast forward to this morning when I went for a run. I have started to love running. It is hard, really hard, but it gives me a sense of accomplishment even if I only go two miles. It makes me feel strong, empowered, limitless. I would be lying if I said that was the only reason I did it, that the “work out” aspect didn’t matter to me. It does. I exercise for vanity just as much as I do for my mental well-being. I’m human.
After I finished my run I took a quick shower and started getting ready to teach. I put on shorts after getting out of the shower because I always do (putting on yoga pants over wet legs is a work out all on it’s own). I was mostly finished getting ready and coming towards time to leave but I still felt so hot from running. The idea of putting on leggings was the last thing I wanted to do. I put a pair in my bag and headed to the studio. Upon arriving I asked Diane at the desk and a student if they thought it was okay to teach wearing shorts. They gave me the validation I sought but it still made me feel uncomfortable. Exposed. What will these students think about my stretch marks, my scars? Will they not take me seriously?
I turned my focus to the students and began class. After we Namaste-d I talked to that same student from the beginning of class. We talked about the upcoming teacher training, she asked me if I would be teaching. I automatically assured her that I was not in a place to be teaching teachers and that I would be around but not leading it. She responded with, “Well, you could that was a great class” I’m sticking to the thought that I am not in a place to teach teachers. I still have way more to learn…but her response made me think. There I was, worrying that the students would hate my class because my legs were showing and she thought I was a great teacher. How backwards is that?
I left the studio and went to walk my friend’s dog, Max. As I was walking him I was hit with an overwhelming feeling. Standing there, in my black comfy shorts, grey v-neck and flip flops I suddenly felt beautiful. I don’t know where it came from, but it was pure. I saw identity in my imperfections, radiance in my hair, sweetness in my belly and triumph in my skin. I felt whole even though my thighs were exposed. I’m not writing this to say “Hey look at me, look at how enlightened I am and you should do it too!”. In reality, I will probably hate myself again tomorrow, maybe even in an hour. But that moment that I felt limitless is worth sharing. It is a testament that the work I’ve been putting in is worth it. It’s proof that maybe in the future I will be able to love myself. I have been so skinny that my bones jutted out on my shoulders and hips. I have gone through the ridicule and bullying from weighing more than my friends in high school. Every day I read facebook posts, articles and watch videos about how we should be loving ourselves more. All of these articles advocate self love but ignore the darker side that goes along with being human. I want to share that some days will be hard. Some days you will want to cry and think you don’t deserve to live because of the way someone looked at you. Some days you will be afraid to leave your house because you think no one will accept you. These are all things that I still experience, and will most likely continue to experience for a long time. I’m writing this to say it’s okay to feel shitty, it’s okay to be human. The sooner we accept that the sooner we are able to move past it. Hello, my name is Bobbi. I am human, are you?