Last week I had a someone ask me if I had always been skinny. It was asked in a way that I knew that they thought I was someone that didn’t have to work to be in shape – that I could eat pounds of candy and not even blink about it. And for some reason this question stopped me in my tracks. I didn’t know how to answer and actually had to pause and think about what to say.
Skinny? First of all, I don’t even relate to the word. For years, skinny was a destination. When I was skinny everything would be perfect. I would look perfect and everything I ever dreamed of happening in my life would fall into place. Skinny was something I strived for and groaned over as I stood looking in the mirror after coming out of the shower, pinching the skin above my hip with the disappointment that I still had so much work to do.
But now that I am much older than that girl that was obsessed with the thought of achieving skinny, I searched my mind for any memory of being overweight. Sure, there were the awkward years, in which I did not have braces or even bad hair, but did for sure have a thick middle and too tall everything until my body grew into itself and put everything where it needed to go. And yes, I definitely went through a phase in college where I was heavier than normal, but for a height of 5’9” I must admit I have never weighed over 160 pounds in my life.
So, I guess the answer is, yes, I’ve always been fit. I would not call myself skinny. I am simply not built that way. I have hips and boobs and I like to stand up straight, never slouching from what some consider my too tall height. I have bones and muscles and organs that need a place in which to function and cells that dance to my own crazy beat. I decided many years ago that I wanted to look like a woman and not the 14-year-old girl physique that the media blasts into our vision every day, non-stop, saying that this is what our goal in life should be. I have much more interesting goals and dreams to go after, thank you.
It took me a long time to get to that place though. It took years of staring at myself in the mirror in the hot room and deciding to focus on the parts of my body that I thought looked good and chasing away that demon voice inside of me that said, “Your thighs are too big and good Lord, suck your stomach in woman! People can see your gut!” But it was coming to yoga every day that made that voice grow quieter. I soon realized I needed my thighs to be powerful to accomplish my goals within my practice, so instead of telling my body how much I hated the look of them, I thanked my body for being strong and for having the opportunity of getting stronger.
So often I hear my students complain about their bodies as if they are separate from them. In some ways we are. You are more than your body. That being said, your body is your partner for this lifetime. You cannot get rid of it – it’s yours. Maybe it’s time to embrace that. We cannot trade our bodies in for the newest model, though many of us try. Your body is the most awesome machine you get to experience. It is your teacher and guide. Yoga taught me that.
When I first started this practice I was looking for a good workout and a way to punish my body into submission. I could sweat out a couple of pounds and feel so much lighter after class. What I gained from this practice over time was a deep respect for my body. It told me I could keep going. It told me when I had enough. It became my ultimate partner and practicing yoga made me want to feed it and treat it with a deep respect.
The goal is not skinny, my friends. The goal is connection. Connecting to your body in a new way in which you would never wish it to be something it is not. Those are your powerful thighs, and your strong arms, and that is your beautiful smile. Honor yourself and your journey and remember you came to this place to be YOU, not a version of someone else or who you think everyone wants you to be. I hope this week you come a little closer to that goal more than any other.
Originally posted to viewsfromthepodium.com on July 26, 2016
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