A Big Surprise in Cobra Pose.

Via Jeannine Ouellette
on May 27, 2013
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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.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

Source: carabrostrom.com via Jessica on Pinterest




About Jeannine Ouellette

Jeannine Ouellette is a writer, teacher and facilitator of Elephant Rock Retreats for Writing & Yoga. She loves coffee, autumn, Lake Superior and all of you (not necessarily in that order). She's also a senior editor and writing teacher at the University of Minnesota. Read her blog, on her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter for more musings on this “one wild and precious life.” (Oh, and she loves poet Mary Oliver.)


19 Responses to “A Big Surprise in Cobra Pose.”

  1. Brooke says:

    <3 What a beautiful message to share!

  2. Rob Pollak says:

    goes for guys too 🙂

  3. Thank you, Brooke!

  4. Rob, you're so right. It does. I just only know firsthand the female experience, and as a mom, I've seen my girls pick themselves apart so much more than my boys. But I know the phenomenon applies to all of us!

  5. Bhanu Didi says:

    Relaxing back with Cobra Pose is the experience which helps for long time. Nice article and thanks for sharing this knowledge with us.

  6. eternalfidelity says:

    I <3 this. Thank you for sharing.

  7. findingpause says:

    This is beautiful. YES!

  8. Thank you all so much for your feedback. It's deeply appreciated!

  9. lisa says:

    beautiful essay, wonderful epiphany to share, and a great testament to how yoga is soooo much more than about our outer appearances. I got in great shape from yoga..hot yoga solely for years…yes, I came to lose weight and look better. I quickly discovered it was more about all that "stuff" on the inside..my mind, my broken eyes…and I learned to love what I saw in the mirror, not for some ideal or state of perfectionism, as that's not reality…but for my strength and tenacity in life, and more. I came for the vanity and stayed for the sanity..indeed. Will share this now to my professional and personal pages… thank you so much for saying what so many will need to hear. I know I did….

  10. Lisa, the path you describe sounds so similar to mine … thank you for writing!!

  11. Nramos says:

    Beautiful. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  12. Nramos, thank you so much!

  13. Apollo says:

    I love this pose, it's just so relaxing and feels even better after a tough workout. Thanks so much for sharing.

  14. Keith V says:

    I haven't been into yoga but I love this pose. I usually do this after my ab exercises to stretch them out. Thanks so much.

  15. What a wonderful article, and thank you for sharing your epiphany with us all. Not only are the physical benefits of yoga so fantastic but the enlightenment that comes within the poses and peaceful meditation, are simply unbeatable. Once again, thank you for sharing! Namaste.

  16. Michelle says:

    Beautiful sentiments! Love the poems you share via Elephant Rock, too.

  17. Alex Scott says:

    Beautiful. Sharing with all. Thank you!’

  18. april says:

    thanks for sharing, I agree!

  19. Yoganica says:

    Really, Its is such a good pose for staying fit and stretchable. I think Its a good experience of hot yoga class for you. I really enjoy to know about you, thanks for sharing this blog. I fully agree with your blog.