Today I was able to make it to my favorite yoga class for the first time in what feels like months. I was so happy to walk through the doors into the warm room knowing that the next 90 minutes were all mine. Phone off, body on. I laid on the mat with my eyes closed and smiled. Grateful for this time and this opportunity.
Class began and we were flowing. I set my intention to "let things happen as they naturally will." I've been trying hard to control things lately that are, quite frankly, out of my control. So, I am working on acceptance, surrendering, and finding peace in life's natural flow.
The room was warmer than usual today. It felt like 110 degrees. I am not sure what it actually was. Since taking class completely naked isn't a thing, I just took my shirt off and kept moving.
Within about ten minutes my mat was covered in drops of sweat. My body was feeling the sweet release of my sore muscles and at the same time it was meeting the demands of a powerful flow and moving meditation. Amazing, right?!
The only problem was that I wasn't focusing on the strength and surrender my body was experiencing. With each shirtless chaturanga my eyes and mind were fixated on the skin of my stomach. This fixation was destroying my physical practice and crushing any opportunity for mental clarity. What a buzz kill, right?!
Then, thank the universe, the instructor said, "If you're thinking about anything right now, just let it pass. Even if you're thinking about yoga, just let it go." It made me laugh; someone on the mat next to me is probably thinking about how to go deeper in a pose, or how to get more out of the practice, and I am going through the motions obsessing over the folds and the softness in my belly. And guess what, both of us would get more out of our practice if we would just stop thinking and keep breathing.
On another day, it's possible that the simple reminder from the instructor wouldn't have been enough to pull me out of my self-deprecating practice. But, I am grateful to say that today it was. I had been missing that class for weeks, thinking about how happy I would be the next time I was able to attend... and when I was given the opportunity, I ALMOST wasted it away by focusing on skin that folds and squishes and moves (the way it is supposed to).
I am strong. I am fit. I am healthy. My body has shape. I am proud of the work that I do for my body every single day. I am a woman. I have a vision of my own body that some days I am working to achieve, and some days I am working to maintain. I am a mom, and so my body has expanded to carry a strong, healthy baby. My shape is different now than it was before Lennon. In some ways, I like this new shape more. While I actually have a stronger core than I ever did before him, and my abs appear with more definition than they did before, there is also a bit of stretch and give to my skin that did not exist in my pre-baby body. The experience of carrying my son in my body has simply changed the skin of my belly. These are the folds that I was obsessing over in class.
Once I received the reminder to let my thoughts pass, I focused in on my breathing and let these obsessive thoughts pass. Over the course of the 90 minutes, there were moments when my focus shifted back to my skin. I began the silent practice of stating one reason I love the belly that I have TODAY and then moving on and coming back to my breath. This proved to be a powerful method of moving on and accepting my body while also allowing me to experience the benefits of the class that I had sought out to receive. After class I stood in the mirror and felt proud of my body - my body that is capable of bending and folding and standing and lifting. My body that has a much greater purpose than to look perfect from every angle. My body that is connected to my mind, and when working together, can overcome anything.
This encounter empowered me. For today, I feel happier and more at peace with myself and my own body. I say "for today" because this life is long and self-love is a daily practice that requires commitment and dedication. I know that there will be days again where I don't view my body with the love that it deserves, but I know that when I put myself in the right places, I will always be reminded of where my focus should be.