Fully human

“Being satisfied with what we already have is a magical golden key to being alive in a full, unrestricted, and inspired way.” – Pema Chodron, Awakening Loving Kindness

real


I sit here battered and beaten. Muscles sore, hot, dehydrated. It feels as though someone has beaten me well with a rolled up yoga mat, dipped me in salt water, and left me to dry on the sidewalk.

There may be a small voice in my left knee. There’s a slightly louder one in my low back. And my mind, my mind is one that’s taking the brunt of it.

The past few months has seen a serious recommitment to physical movement. There came a point where I didn’t recognize my body anymore. Didn’t know what it could do, or what it wanted to do. We hadn’t been speaking really.

We went from feeling like strangers to having four or fives dates a week. Things got hot and heavy fast. Barre every week, to barre teacher training. One beginner ballet class, to a crash course twice a week.

I can’t tell if I’m renewing my commitment to health or if this is my mind’s way of punishing me for aging, or neglecting to take nude photos when my body was perfect. And publishing them on the Internet so I could stare at them and wonder who the hell that was.

Rebellion is present. Rebellion against stagnation, restriction, incapacity. And then rebellion again against movement and work. It comes in the form of self doubt, the sinking comfort of the couch, and glasses of red wine. I’m striving for something and then fighting against it.

I read this early this morning, on Satisfaction from Pema Chodron: “It’s very helpful to realize that being here, doing simple everyday things… Is actually all we need to be fully awake, fully alive, fully human. It’s also helpful to realize that this body that we have … And this mind that we have at this very moment, are exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, and fully alive.”

So all this work may not get me to some end. My body is my body. It’s getting stronger but it’s not going backwards through time. My mind is my mind. It whirls and sometimes it stops. My heart is full and it breaks. Fully human, fully awake, and fully alive.

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The Great, Big Yoga Coverup

I usually practice at home, so I don’t worry about what I’m wearing. I roll right out of bed and onto the mat. But when I do head out to a class, PJs don’t cut it. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not an exhibitionist – at all. But I am sometimes oblivious. It’s happened once or twice that I’ve lifted into down dog and had a too-loose shirt fall up over my head. Or been in cat cow and looked down to see, eek, that I’m not quite as covered up as I thought.

It’s good to be conscious of coverage as a student, but even more important as a teacher. More often than not, I err on the side of my clothes being too boxy and loose. I’m more comfortable, but the students can’t see the shapes my body is making during posture demonstrations.

What about you? Have you ever been mid-class and wished you could cover up?

This non-cleavagey image is from Yoga Prevention. Trust me, I thought about going another way with the imagery for this post. But I just couldn’t do it! Just google yoga and cleavage if you absolutely have to. I did.

Yogi Media

The mixed messages we yogis send ourselves can juuuust about be summed up in this little screengrab. 

I’m not suggesting that one of these articles is less valid than the other. I’m just noticing the juxtaposition: One article questioning the yoga-body-ideal, and one reinforcing it.

I mean, listen, I WANT to demean the Aniston article. And granted, the YogaDorksters are KIND OF for sure (ed note: see Yoga Dork comments below) winking and nudging the stereotype. But, seriously, I hate all the hotness sometimes. And the talk of hotness. I would love to take a break from reading and thinking about body image. And focus instead on what amazing things my body can do. Or how about the BORING topic of what yoga does for the mind, the emotions, the heart and soul? Which is where all the deep beauty really is for me.

Yoga lets me go deep. And stand strong, and cry and take flight. And it doesn’t matter if there’s a jelly roll over my lululemons when I do it. Not one little bit. When I am feeling transcendental and buzzing from the vibrations in my body, I couldn’t care less what the outside looks like.

Listen, I get it. I skip the meditation articles in Yoga Journal too sometimes. I flip to the pictures of the pretty lady. I’m human like that.

And I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit to envying those “yoga bodies” out there. Even if they are only a small percentage of the population. I want to make the outside look as amazing as yoga makes me feel on the inside. But I sometimes wish that was an instinct that wasn’t so consistently reinforced by seemingly everything around me. (And if you think I’m too high and mighty to put ‘celebriyogi’ in my post tags, you are mistaken.)

And, as another side note, when we talk about the “yoga body” let’s not forget that what we’re REALLY talking about is the American ideal – with or without yoga. Because until recently the ideal yoga body was one of a 14-year-old Indian boy.