Just Be On Your Mat

photo: shaletann

Yoga teaches you how to listen to your body.
~ Mariel Hemingway

I have a friend who's been chronicling her first 100-day foray into the Land of Raw Foods on YouTube. It's been a joy to witness the very visible physical and emotional transformation in her as she's fully engaged in a 100% raw, living foods diet. Her public sharing has been a source of inspiration to many who've watched her shed forty excess pounds and emerge a vibrant and vital young woman.

Long about Day 75 a troll showed up in the comments: "Stop fooling everyone into thinking you eat only raw foods. You're too fat and you're giving the whole raw foods movement a bad name..."

Mr. Troll (read: toe jam, ignoramus, jerk) had much more to say before he was forcibly vaporized from cyberspace, but not before my own hackles went up. You see, I know that berating voice of the troll all too well – it's taken up residence in my own head longer than I care to admit.

For years, I had a desire to do yoga. But I never acted upon the desire. Why? Because the voice in my head told me I couldn't possibly do yoga. I do not have a yoga body (translate: very thin, lithe body). I don't look like someone who does yoga is supposed to look. I have boobs. Hips. A belly. Can't wear a unitard or one of those midriff-exposing, little spaghetti-strap numbers.

Despite my size, I do have a very flexible body. I am still able to do the splits. And if I didn't have something resembling a small buddha belly that gets in the way, I could probably still take my right foot and place it upon my left shoulder. Really. Somewhere around my own Day 75, I discovered Mega Yoga™ – the first yoga program for curvy women – developed by plus-size model Megan Garcia. I got a mat and began the daily practice of hatha yoga in the confines of my own living room. My body loved it!

After moving down the insurance charts from "morbidly obese" to "obese" (hey, I'm fast approaching just plain ole "overweight" and you can bet we're gonna have a party about it!), I kicked that freakin' troll to the curb along with a good 85 pounds of fat and declared I'm taking a yoga class! Screw the image of the perfect body I'm supposed to have. It's all an illusion anyway. Some crazy preconceived notion I've come up with to prevent me from doing 101 things because of the way I look (and feel).

I know all about the Mind-Body Connection. How you feel physically, determines how you feel mentally. How you feel mentally, determines how you feel physically. But my internal radar is waaaaaay off kilter. Whacked. Off the Richter scale.

So. I quelled the inner demons and signed up. Eight weeks. Yoga. With other people in the room.
I had totally prepared myself beforehand for the fact that I would most likely be the largest person in the room. My mantra the whole time I was driving there: Just be on your mat.

What I was NOT prepared for were the mirrors. Mirrors. Everywhere. What cruel and unusual punishment is this? Oh, the horror.

Panic. Breathe. Just be on your mat.

I stayed. I didn't go running out of the room.

Mountain pose. Upward Salute. Standing Forward Bend. Lunge. Plank. Staff. Upward Facing Dog. Downward Facing Dog. Lunge. Standing Forward Bend. Upward Salute. Mountain. Put them all together and you get a Sun Salutation. Flow through this sequence six times and you sweat like a pig. Not so pretty. BUT, I gotta tell you, it sure feels good. My body really likes this stuff.

The more I'm able to practice and just be on my mat without the harsh self-judgments, the deeper and more intimate connection I have with my own body. Ninety whole minutes free from my mind wandering, planning, scheming, wishing, dreaming. There's a Sanskrit term, Samadhi, that essentially means an ecstatic state of expanded awareness and complete freedom from suffering. A diet of raw, living foods and yoga is going to be my path toward experiencing Samadhi. I just know it.
Maya doesn't have a yoga body either. But that doesn't stop her.

Do you have a troll that takes up residence in your head? What does it say you can't do?

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