I went to yoga for the first time in a while yesterday. I expected a good physical workout, but I didn't imagine the emotional butt kicking I would get.
It started out like any other class. I was sweating through each pose, glad to be stretching and twisting after a few weeks of trying to take it easy while doing my first IVF cycle. At the end of class, my teacher, Verred, reminded us to have gratitude in our lives and specifically to have "gratitude for our bodies."
This struck a chord with me. I was sitting with my hands in prayer at my heart, and I had to fight back tears. It wasn't until that very moment that I realized I'd been hating my body rather than appreciating it.
My body and I have a troubled and complicated relationship. I spent most of my childhood and adolescent years significantly overweight. I always felt like my body was holding me back from greatness. I literally felt weighed down by self-loathing, self-doubt, and fear and imagined that if I could just shake my body off like a snake's skin, my true self would emerge.
Even after I lost weight, my body remained a barometer of my self-worth. I fought with my body each day to stay thin, and then it became this hungry bag of bones trying to ruin me with food.
Slowly, I changed my relationship with my body; slowly I came to see my body as valuable and worthy of care and respect.
But it wasn't until I got pregnant that I really began to love my body. Each day I watched my belly grow, and with it my wonder at how miraculous the body is. I was so proud of what my body could do and loved watching it transform over those nine months.
After that, I thought my days of hating my body were over, and, yet, there I was, sitting on my mat, realizing that I am so angry with my body for betraying me once more, for refusing to do the one thing that I am biologically programmed to do, one thing I thought my body was actually good at.
I hadn't realized this, or, at least, I hadn't put it into words until Verred said "gratitude," and as I drove home, I thought about it more and more. There are so many blessings in my life, and it has become a daily ritual to remind myself of them each day, but not once had I placed my body on the list of blessings. This body which has carried me through 33 years without a broken bone or serious illness, this body that birthed a child with no medication, this body that ran two 5Ks this year, this body that I have often mistreated and disrespected, comes back each day like a faithful dog.
And I realized that my body is not trying to hurt me. Each day it pumps with blood, fills with breath, stretches, runs, thinks, cries, and laughs. It does its very best for me every minute of every day, and for that I am grateful.
I guess I just needed a reminder.
Thanks for that, Verred.