In September I started a yoga teacher training program. To say it has immensely changed my life would be an understatement - learning about a whole new philosophy and approach to life that makes sense to me has changed my perspective. The benefits to yoga practice are infinite, but it felt fitting to share one particular moment of gratitude that really changed things for me. After a particularly rigorous class, I felt a deep appreciation for my body. I was thanking it for allowing me to do these challenging poses I was asking of it, for holding me a little higher. The moment right after that was the surprise that appreciating my body had come so naturally in that moment. The concept of thanking my body was foreign to me. I spent many years plagued by intense insecurity about my body, sometimes to a crippling degree (and living in an image-focused society, I know I am not alone). All those negative feelings started falling away the more I did yoga - the more I asked of it and the more it gave to me a new strength and flexibility that I finally had the mental space to appreciate.
We are often sent mixed message about our bodies. If we love our appearances too much we are vain and lack modesty - but we are also constantly expected to exude confidence to be attractive. And while all of this is happening, there are images everywhere of perfect bodies, or magazine articles about ways to achieve perfect abs, lose five pounds, tone your thighs. What makes a body perfect? And why is perfection something we regard so highly? If we ever achieved perfection, what would we have to look forward to? The standards for perfection are so arbitrary anyway. My thighs are big and my stomach is not flat, but I have a damn good immune system. So why is my focus more about lamenting those parts and not on the fact that my body is indeed really really good to me?
So often we ignore our own bodies when thinking of gratitude, but it's the only thing we have for our entire lives, and we ought to show it a little more love, no? I'm not totally cured of my insecurities, but I've been walking a little lighter these days. I hope amongst the myriad of things to be thankful for in this world, you will make space for one more thing.