Exercise is celebrating what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate
I decided to write this post after several conversations I've had with students in my classes. I teach at a variety of places across San Diego and most of my classes take place at local gyms rather than yoga studios.
Teaching in a gym offers a wonderful challenge for a teacher of any fitness modality. Very often I come across people who are brand new to yoga, people who haven't been to a class in years and people who were told by a doctor that yoga would be good for them. It challenges me to teach classes that are comfortable for all levels. I need to make my classes work for an experienced yogi while making it inviting enough for a new yogi.
The thing that surprises me the most is when people approach me after class and ask me what poses they can do to target certain parts of their body. Before I move on, let me say that I totally get it. There are parts of my body that I'd love to change and improve upon. Especially as a woman seeing all the images our society praises as beautiful and knowing I look nothing like them.
Yoga is about so many things but for this blog post I want to stress that yoga is about peace. Yes, it can be a work out. Yes, it can help to shape your body. But is that the goal? No. Hard no. The most powerful part of my yoga practice is connecting my breath, mind and body. I have gained so much clarity by being able to slow down and connect those three things.
When I started practicing yoga I was about 20 pounds heavier than I am now. Making yoga a part of my life was never about the look of my body, it was about calming my mind. In the process my body has become more flexible, my breath is deep and steady, and my mind is full of clarity.
So today as you think about your body and the movements you take. Let go of the expectation that you need to improve how you look. Connect your yoga practice with gratitude that your body can make the movements. Celebrate that you have gained strength and peace in your practice, whether it is strength in your mind, your body, or your spirit.
There will come a day when your body can not do this, but today is not that day. Let's celebrate that.