I 100% did not intend to sign up for hot yoga. As a fitness pro and yoga enthusiast I have felt subtle, self inflicted, peer pressure that I should take a class just to experience it. I mean, I’ve tried bulletproof coffee, cauliflower rice and CrossFit. I should at least try hot yoga. The appeal just hasn’t been there so I haven’t done it.
On my recent Seattle vacation I found a trendy yoga studio on the same block as our studio apartment. Could this be any more appropriate for me? I think not. So I sauntered in, got class schedule and paperwork and signed up for the 6:00 am class the following morning. After all the walking and lack of workouts on my trip I was looking forward to it greatly.
The next morning I walked the dark Seattle streets at 5:45 a.m. in my yoga pants and long sleeved shirt and jacket, made it to the studio, got my yoga mat, put my belongings away and headed to the studio which was ironically a foggy door. Hmmm. My first sign.
I opened it and a blast of heat escaped and I can’t remember if I said it out loud or in my head but “Oh, f*#K” was the first thing that crossed my mind. My intention was not to hot yoga.
I wasn’t going to leave the class though the heat and heaviness of the air was not inviting. I set up my mat, laid down and took off my long sleeved shirt leaving a tank and yoga pants remaining. Once class started, after the first few poses, sweat was dripping down my body. And I don’t sweat. In side angle pose I could feel my bracelet sliding a centimeter at a time down my wrist and could feel the layers of clothing mold to my skin.
Should I take off my tank top and just do the class in my sports bra and pants I thought? Hell no. I never workout in my sports bra. Just the thought of it leaves me feeling to vulnerable, like I am completely out in the open for everyone to judge any other unflattering aspect of my body. Even worse, I have the mirror to judge myself the whole class. You see, I am very pro healthy body image though I can’t deny for a second that I never struggle with it myself.
My awareness and practice, in appreciating and embracing my body has improved greatly but I still have moments of insecurity, doubt, and “not good enoughness.” My moments of body shame are expressed in this expectation of what I am suppose to look and with what I currently look like.
I somehow, over the years, have determined that any flaw on my body is unhealthy. A less than magazine like stomach, cellulite, shorts that squish my waist, and thighs and a butt that make my pants fit tight somehow don’t match up to worthiness and somehow represent unhealthiness in my head even though I workout consistently and am very conscious of what I eat. Any poor food choice or skipped workouts goes right to my trouble areas, even though I know that is not how it works.
I am also well aware that the diet/weight loss industry is a multi billion dollar industry that prays on the insecurities of women and the impression that we should look a certain way. Women feel the expectation to show up perfect in the world, to be more by losing more and having a smaller size, therefore making our vision, perspective and mindset smaller.
I can’t stand the talk of programs that give women flatter stomachs or thinner thighs. Programs that banish cellulite and help you lose 10 pounds without even trying and the implication that they make us more worthy. That our worthiness is defined by our bodies and the smaller and more defined we are the more valuable we are. We get tied into the idea that “if” we look a certain way “then” we will be happy. This is self destruction at its finest.
The responsibility is on us and I love it.
This is not a reason not to take responsibility for your health.This is in fact, full responsibility on you, on us, to not let them take away our worthiness by determining what size we should be.
While this still fires me up I no longer put the blame on the industry. I put the responsibility on us as women. The industry will not change quick enough to influence us in a different way, so it is time to do it ourselves.
We can only feel smaller as a person if we choose to.
We can only feel unworthy with our bodies if we choose too.
The picture perfect models can only make us feel bad if we choose too.
It is time to take responsibility in our choices, not to feel bad because of the images of so called perfection and desire portrayed but to choose, to own and rock what we have no matter what. Be we are so much more than just bodies.
You want to know what I did in my yoga class? I said screw it. Off came the tank top and I completed the rest of the class in my sports bra, not caring what others, or myself would think, in unflattering poses or movements. I let my body look like what is was meant to look like during that class, not what I felt like it was suppose to look like.
I will most definitely go back to my shirt wearing ways because I like being clothed when I workout and more importantly don’t have anything to prove to anyone else. Only myself. I don’t feel the need to work out in a sports bra but if I want to do yoga in it from time to time I have no reason to let shame and insecurity hold me back.
I will continue to acknowledge when I feel shame and insecurity wash over me and will do my best to practice self compassion and acknowledge that I am more than just a body. My body does not define me. Working towards being the healthiest version of myself will always be high in value, meaning and purpose but will not be defined by an unobtainable image of perfection.