I wrote my first yoga blog post a while ago as an attempt to explain what yoga is really all about and what it means to me. If you haven’t read it yet, the general gist of it is that Yoga is about so much more than a cool Instagram photo, or about getting into the most complicated ‘bendy like a pretzel’ pose that makes you question whether the yogis doing them actually have bones at all. Since then Ellen and I have been creating a post a week going a bit more in-depth into some of our favourite poses, like headstand, pigeon and those heart openers that, on some days, will take your breath away.
What we haven’t ever really gone into is why we started Yoga in the first place. So this week, that’s what we are going to share with you. This post was one of the harder ones to write because it’s tough to admit the real stuff that goes on in your head and your heart sometimes. Because some days this is how you feel..
Having said that, I hope you find something real in all these words.
This is Ellen’s story.
Since I can remember I have tried to eat and exercise a certain way, to look a certain way. Hoping and believing that when I have that (unattainable) perfect body I would finally be happy. I spent seven years following childish diet and exercise regimes and got myself so intertwined in a vicious cycle of self-judgement and self-hatred. I despised me; I really thought ugly didn’t get uglier than me. Two years ago I started to teach myself yoga on the beach, before the sun rose so no one could see my body in shorts or un-posed positions, to try and change my body just one last time. I hated how ‘manly’ my body had been all my life and I was sure yoga would give me long, lean muscles. It started as simply as that – for a body goal. It’s ironic that such egotistical intentions brought me the most unfathomable happiness and gratitude.
Seriously. I still don’t know quite how the magic of all of it works but through yoga I actually learnt to accept myself. I can’t explain how that changes every moment in your life. Through respecting my body and myself now I nourish it, I don’t punish it. And now, my body loves me back with good health and a beautiful yoga practice. There are still many days where I wish I looked differently, but there are those days in between where I love myself anyway and even if its one day of self-loving, it’s a day that I never really had before. You have to love yourself unconditionally; love your darkness and weird hippie spirit. By learning to love you, you learn how to love more, you’re kinder to yourself and not so hard on others. You stop judging everything, your ego is replaced with openness and you feel as if you’ve been synced with life. It’s happy. It’s so happy. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve been filled up with too much happiness and I hold onto my heart to stop it exploding. I got what I wanted; I wanted to be happy. Instead of trying to change the body being judged, I changed the person judging the body.
It’s funny, how you can sometimes read someone else’s story and see so much of your own story in there. I started Yoga purely because I thought, like Ellen, that a couple of yoga classes would leave me looking ready for the Victoria’s Secret Runway. I’m not quite sure when I started believing that what my body looked like, or how much I weighed determined my worth as a person – but I did and on bad days, I still do. I’m not sure when or how we learnt to be so self critical to the point that I wouldn’t leave the house in anything but a boys jersey the size of a tent over my leggings, but it happened, and on bad days it still does.
I started yoga to change my body into something (I know now) that it will never be, and practicing yoga has showed me that how I am is actually, really ok. I’ve punished myself for having thighs and a bum that makes it impossible to wear certain pants, I’ve gone days where I solidly thought a sachet of tuna for lunch was the answer. But you know what, I can’t make it through an hour of Yoga on a sachet of tuna, so stuff that. Please, don’t let this post trick you into thinking I am this self-confident chick with no insecurities – because that’s not me either. There are days where I rock a sports bra to yoga class, because I don’t give a sh*t about what anyone else thinks of me and there are days when the thought of anyone else seeing my tummy roll when I bend over or twist makes me want to cry. I started yoga to change the way my body looked, but practicing Yoga has taught me to be friends with my body, rather than punish it for something society and Instagram is telling me it should be, but isn’t.