A Story of Abominable & Amazing Abdominals
I have a real yoga body.
(Of course, everyone who practices yoga does—the skinny, the rotund and everyone in between.)
I was slightly chubby as a kid. One particularly cruel fourth grade boy would taunt me on the playground, chanting, “Shelly with a belly full of jelly.”
I was at the height of my physical prowess from about age 20 to 24. A few years later, I’d managed to gain 20 pounds or so. I happen to carry extra weight in my midsection, although my arms and legs have always been relatively slim and toned. (I have nice extremities, as a friend complimented me once.)
Which is why people (usually yoga students) would ask/imply that I was expecting. I’d correct them: “No, no. I’m just a little chubby.” Although sometimes I thought it would be less embarrassing to just lie and say, “Only four months to go!”
Since when is it okay to ask a woman if she’s pregnant? Unless you’re sure, do us all a favor—don’t.
I used to feel miserably humiliated about my stomach. I’d try to “suck it in” more, like my mom always used to remind me. I’d look in the mirror and wish I could wish it away. I’d envy rich people who could afford liposuction.
I despised my stomach. I resented it for holding me back in yoga asana. I noticed that I couldn’t stretch as far into forward bends or advanced twists and binds due to my bulging belly.
Through the practice of yoga and letting go of vicious self-criticism, I slowly, gradually got over my hatred for my tummy. I learned to love my body, including my midsection.
Then, I got pregnant and grew a baby in there. And she came out perfectly! The miracle of life! In my formerly abhorred gut.
I have since gotten into better shape than I was pre-baby, thanks to a healthy, active lifestyle and diet. (Though, I’ll never be 23 again…) Still, the slightly chubby belly persists and probably always will. I’m okay with being a little bit fat.
So when one of my third-grade students looked at my belly and then asked if I was going to have another baby, I replied calmly, “No, no. And you shouldn’t ask a woman that. It’s rude.”
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Ed: Sara Crolick
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