A few mornings ago I was in my yoga class. The same yoga class that I have taken twice a week for over 10 years. I was standing next to one of my yoga friends, a woman that I have sat next to in this class, twice a week, for as long as I can remember. She often volunteers to get you a strap or block if she see you (or anyone else) is in need, and she is the one who most likely will cover you with a blanket during savasana. She is the one who invites others to have breakfast after class and who asks about vacation induced absences and who lends you tons of material on Italy because she knows that is where you are headed next. She is simply lovely.
So she and I were standing side by side during class last week. Everyone was lined up on one side of the room to use the ballet bar as a prop. We had been there most of class, working up to doing this pose that asked us to be in this upside down L position, palms planted on the ground and the balls of our feet pressed against the ballet bar. We did this pose three times and after each time we would gingerly place one foot and then the other back upon the earth, staying in a forward bend to avoid a head rush. After the first or second time, my lovely yoga friend said that she felt like a cat coming out of the pose. As I eagerly agreed, (it did remind me of the careful and measured steps that cats do when they are feeling unsure) she then said, as opposed to how I feel like an elephant most of the time.
Upside down, palms flat, blood pooled in my brain, my heart broke a bit.
In the moment, in that awkward position, I wanted to wrap my arms around her and tell her all of the ways that she is a radiant being and as the moment passed and as we slipped into savasana, her off the cuff words just reverberated in my being. It was one of those self deprecating jokes made in passing and in all honesty, I don’t know if that is genuinely how she feels in her body. What I do know, and what really resonates with me, is the way that we can use bad mouthing our bodies as a way to connect with each other. Strangely, it can serve as some sort of badge of honor to berate and belittle our imperfect and beautiful bodies, to preemptively insult the very home we were born into.
So for today, notice how you speak to and about yourself while you are alone or in the company of others.
If the words that you hear are not words that you would say about a cherished friend, why say them about yourself? Of course this habit won’t change after just one day but it will begin to shift with gentle awareness, so for today try celebrating your imperfections and if celebrating your flaws feels too hard, why not at least acknowledge them as a completely unique (and dare I say beautiful) part of who you are.