Day 19: Learning bravery, wisdom and strength from another

Look at all those strong beautiful bodies

Look at all those strong beautiful bodies

One of my good friends just sent me a link to a great blog post. For those interested in reading the post, here it is:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/10/this-is-what-a-real-yoga-body-looks-like-rachel-priest/

Her name is Rachel and she is a yoga teacher that struggled with an eating disorder for 8 years.  However, years later, she finds herself in a much better position, one where she has embraced herself as she is now, and is practicing self acceptance and love: just like I’m trying to do and promote within my blog.

She writes, “That is my message: we all need to rally together and promote self acceptance and love. Let’s keep on living our life happily knowing that we are all beautiful and undying souls and we were born perfect and will never be more perfect than we are at this very moment.”

I LOVE IT! Pure smiles and warm fuzzies were coming from me as I read over her words.

She was motivated to write this particular post because after teaching a class, one of her students approached her and told her that she should lose weight. (WHHHAAT!!??! Right!!?)  A few thoughts:

1. What chuzpah to say to someone else they should lose weight? I’m kinda jaw dropping here, because, as someone who struggles with her weight and body image, the last thing I would ever do would be to poke into someone else’s body.  So woooooow.

2. The fact that she is still strong and confident after a comment like that is nothing short of inspiring.  If someone says anything negative about me, I can take it very hard.  It could be one bad comment in a sea of compliments, but all I’ll hear is the negative.  I’m aware that this is coming from a shaky self confidence base, one that I’m trying to make stronger.  Kuddos to her for not only staying strong, believing in herself, but then to share that with the world through her blog post.  In fact, her comment only seemed to reinforce her belief in herself, and her self acceptance. 

3. She posts a picture of herself in a bikini at the top of the post, baring it all.  When I look at the picture, this is what I see: STRENGTH! (look at her muscles!!), flexibility, peace and beauty.  Aside for the testament of bravery she exudes for posting it, it also shows us a real body. What do I mean?  I would never look at her and say she’s fat.  I would never look at her and think she needs to lose weight.  I would look at her and think she’s strong.  I would look at her and think she has tight curves.  But, it doesn’t look like the bodies we are used to in magazines.  Why? Because those bodies aren’t real.  We’ve too many times deluded ourselves on what’s real and not real, blurring our lines.  So thanks for reminding us what we should look like.  Healthy and strong.

4. It’s funny because the day before my friend sent me this blog, I had been trying to convince another friend of mine to come to my Yoga class. I go to Yoga about once a week, and I could go on and on and on (and yes, on) about the benefits and inner peace I gain from Yoga, but all it makes me want to do is share the joy with others, so I’m always trying to get friends to come to a session.  This particular friend asked me an odd question.  She said, “Is the yoga teacher thin? Because I hate going to an exercise class where the teacher doesn’t have a good body.”  I was taken aback from the question, and my first thought, was to think of my yoga teacher, who is very thin.  BUT, I never questioned her body, or really decomposed it before this question.  I love her classes, not because of the way she looks, but because of the way she gives them.  Because her positivity, spirit and smile are always uplifting.  Because she’s always trying to do new things, and is supportive no matter where we are in our practice.  Because at every point of the class, she tells us to embrace ourselves where we are, how we are.  Because she tells us during the class to be supportive of ourselves, she tells us to appreciate ourselves, and because she exudes love for yoga.  Not because of the way she looks.

I guess my friend is the non-chutzpah version of the girl who told Rachel she should lose weight.  My friend may not say it to the yoga teacher’s face, but the same thought is present. These two girls aren’t alone though, I think this belief is popular amongst a lot of people, it’s an assumption we all have.  That to be healthy, we need to be skinny, or thin.  A good yoga teacher must be healthy if she/he’s using her/his practice as an exercise.

But, when did healthy equal skinny?  Yes, obesity, or being overweight do equal unhealthy, BUT if we work within our regular BMI- our healthy weight range- we don’t need to look like sticks in order to be healthy.  Health can mean strong and sexy curves.  We have it banged into our heads that the best way to look is stick thin, and this is only possible through health, when in fact being healthy has a much larger range.

Our focus needs to stop being on the way our bodies look, and rather on how we treat them.  We should be asking ourselves:  1- Am I eating right:  A well balanced healthy diet?  I know some naturally skinny girls who eat shit.  And on the flip side, I’m sure there are some skinny girls who eat nothing, who are also unhealthy. 2- Am I exercising?

As long as we are doing enough of both of those things, we should let our bodies develop the way they do, because they’ll only be healthy.

I’d like to end the post by thanking Rachel.  I don’t know her, but now I see her as a brave, wise and strong woman.  Today, she has inspired me to love myself, just the way I am.  While I was in yoga class last night, I was smiling the entire time, happy for my new found strength: the one coming from the inside and the outside.  And that’s what i’m loving today.

So, thanks.

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