I had an epiphany recently during a hot yoga class.
We were in the floor series, lifting up into cobra pose; as I raised myself off the mat, the tops of my feet pressing down, my legs engaged as one body, my thighs rotated inward and upward, little to no weight in my hands, I saw myself in the mirror.
Face flushed, hair soaked, shining with sweat, the muscles of my chest and shoulders taut…my body amazed me in its effort and its strength and its beauty.
To see myself and feel that way was heart stopping.
It took me until my 40s to appreciate my body, to stop the constant criticism, and you know, the self sabotage just wasn’t necessary, all those years of obsessing over this or that imperfection.
For me, clumsiness, scoliosis, life-endangering shyness, sexual scars and a terror of any athletic activity only made it worse.
I’m so glad I’m getting a second chance now; I’m so glad for that moment in cobra, when my new-found appreciation for my body shone through so clearly and brightly, even if it still flickers and dims regularly.
To all the beautiful girls and women I know—and yes, you are beautiful!—who are picking yourselves apart, I wish you weren’t.
That’s all—I just really, really wish you weren’t.
The size of your thighs, the smoothness or roughness of your skin, the whiteness or yellowness or straightness or crookedness of your teeth, the shape of your breasts, the cellulite that you either do or don’t have on your butt…none of this is the point.
None of this matters the way you think it does.
This is the great gift of yoga, the opportunity to discover our bodies not as a collection of flaws to nitpick, insufficiencies to overcome, but rather as genuine temples within which our infinite selves reside.
Our bodies, through the asana yoga practice, can lead us to the awe-inspiring surprise of our innermost, truest being.
This innermost being is beautiful, and so is the flesh that embodies it in this lifetime.
This I know is true.
So that was my epiphany during cobra, while my mind was not at all in perfect, empty stillness but instead running rampant with stray thoughts.
I landed on this one, and have been revisiting it ever since.
The body, it is so amazing and here and now and real and miraculous. I’m in awe.
Like elephant yoga on Facebook.
Ed: Bryonie Wise