A few weeks ago, I finally got up the courage to take a group Iyengar yoga class in New York City. Now, I’ve been doing yoga for 17 years, so you’d think I’d be all over that studio. But no, I prefer to study one-on-one with a teacher, free from constantly comparing myself to anyone else (other than my teacher who is, like, 85 pounds and does yoga 10 hours a day). It’s always just the two of us in class—and through my almost two decades of practice, the changes I’ve seen my body go through have been more about range of movement and strength than dress size or weight.
But as I looked around the crowded classroom in New York, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. There were large, small, young, old, thin, lumpy, big-boned, big-muscled, tall, and not-nearly-so-tall people—every single person was absolutely unique. And every single person was doing the work of yoga. I left the class feeling strong, peaceful, and enlightened….
I realized that your body is your body.
So many people strive for that “perfect body.” We are all called to flatten our bellies, tone our arms, build muscle, lose weight, get in shape. But that’s just it. Your shape is the shape you were born with. Yes, you can sculpt and tone it, but your body is your body, and it’s unique to you. So the first step is to realize that, accept it, and LOVE your body exactly as it is. Right now. Love it, be IN it, listen to it. What is your body trying to tell you?
I believe that injuries can often be messages from your subconscious. Chronic diseases can be something in your body, or even soul, crying for attention. We’ve all known people who had the “perfect body” but still got sick and died. We probably know even more people who have the “perfect body” but are miserable, cranky sorts. Is that health? No. A “perfect body” is no guarantee of anything. And no one else—no doctor, no pill, no personal trainer can give you that true health that comes from acknowledging that your body is your body and it’s yours to love and care for.
Being truly healthy is not complicated. Trust me, I’ve seen and heard it all, and it comes down to a few key things: Eat clean, whole foods from nature; exercise and be active; and cultivate happiness and love in your heart. The rest is minor details.
So stop looking at everyone else and their “perfect” bodies and take a good long look in the mirror. Decide right now that your body is your body, and start loving it, in all its glorious unique imperfections. Start feeling its needs in your heart and then take care of them accordingly. Be in it all the way. Because your body is an amazing miracle, exactly as it is…right now.