Seeing as this is a healthy food AND lifestyle blog, I thought it was about time for me to write a bit about healthy lifestyle, the things that I have learnt along the way, and the things I am continuing to learn about living healthily. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know a bit about my health journey so far and just why I am so passionate about eating healthy, wholesome food. Yoga is another great love for me, for all sorts of reasons, and it is also a huge part of why I am the way I am now. My mom always said I should try Yoga, and as usual, I thought I knew better until I saw her touch her toes with absolutely no effort while the closest I could get was to grab the loops of my shoelaces and hold on for dear life.
If you were to google ‘benefits of yoga’ right now, you would see for yourself how very many benefits there are. It’s hard for me to put into words just how much my yoga practice means to me, because there are about the same amount of reasons as your google search would have turned up. I started doing Yoga because I wanted to be more flexible, ok not even more flexible, I just wanted to be able to touch my toes without feeling like my legs were going to snap at the knee.
It has become so much more to me. It is my quiet place in a busy, demanding, fast paced world where we are never quiet long enough to listen to ourselves. It has taught me focus, it has taught me to slow down, it has taught me that sometimes it is perfectly ok to just be. One of my favorite things that one of my favorite teachers often says is that yoga isn’t about the pose; yoga is what you learn about yourself going into that pose. I learn something new every day. It is the most incredible form of introspection, and isn’t that, on some level, what we all want – to figure out who we are, and what we are meant to do in this life?
I have learnt strength from my practice, both physical and mental. I have learnt that life is less about what happens to you, and more about how you react to it. I have learnt that taking a breath helps, always. No practice is ever the same as any other, and each moment is completely unique to the next. Most importantly I have learnt to laugh at myself, and laugh hard. There really is no other way to go about it when you are trying something new and complicated and instead of looking graceful and peaceful you end up flat on your bum, or in a sweaty, messy heap on your neighbor’s mat.
It is teaching me about love – which is a really weird thing to say, and I can hear the “…really?” that’s happening in your heads as you read this. It is teaching me to love my body for what it can do and what it does for me every single day, rather than what it looks like. There is so much pressure placed on perfection, on being skinny, and for some reason we are conditioned into thinking that we are not enough the way that we are. I’m not sure how we learn to criticize and hate ourselves like this, or at what point we believe that we aren’t enough, but it happens. I’ve seen my friends go through it. I’ve watched some of the most beautiful souls that I know believe that they are not enough, slowly whither themselves away with the belief that if they were just a bit thinner, if their thighs were just a bit smaller, if their stomachs were just a little bit flatter, somehow, they would be happier, better… more complete.
I am by no means immune to this – so let me tell you that I have felt the same way, and there are still days where I feel it. I have woken up in the morning, and not wanted to get out of bed because I hate the way my body looks in absolutely every stitch of clothing I own. I’ve honestly believed that skipping meals is the best way for me to feel better about myself, because my body isn’t good enough to be looked after. I’ve been obsessed with the number on the scale, and the number on the label of my jeans. I’ve been caught up in the rush of losing a lot of weight, quickly and feeling a sense of accomplishment in doing it. Because finally, I’ve got some control, and skinny is good – right? Every drop on that scale is one step closer to perfect – that’s what we see everywhere, right? So it must be what people want. We are so unforgiving towards ourselves; were they in the same situation we would treat our friends with kindness, love and support. Think about it, think about all those doubts, all those feelings of not being enough- what would you say to your best friend if she or he were feeling like that? Would you tell them to place her entire sense of value in the number on the scale, or would you remind her of all the things you love about her? The way I see it… your body is going to be your home for the rest of this life, surely it’s about time you stop hating it.
My yoga practice is about strength, and the fact that I can touch my toes – I would be lying if I said it wasn’t. But somehow, it’s more about the fact that it calms my overly anxious mind down. Every day it helps me figure out a bit more of who I am. It has made me realize just how many things I have to be grateful for. There are days where I cry, on my yoga mat, in a room full of random people. There are days where I fall over, again and again. But I always leave my mat feeling more myself than when I arrived. I have learnt to love that my body loves yoga – it’s not perfect, there are rolls when I touch my toes, and my bum squidges out when it has to, but you know what, I’m not perfect either. Some days I can balance on my forearms, some days just standing in mountain pose at the top of my mat takes everything I have. It bends, it twists, it folds and you know what, it’s all ok, because it’s me and I’m learning that not only is it ok to admit that you like you, it’s where happiness comes from.
I love that every practice ends with “Namaste”, and I love what it means. So Namaste, to all you wonderful readers who have stuck with me this far and to all the wonderful yogis who have inspired me a long the way (more on that later)
All Photo Cred goes to the wonderfully talented Sophie Kirsch