January 13, 2015

On My Yoga Mat—Curvy vs. Thin.

curvy vs. skinny

Recently I changed my appearance.

The biggest change is I’ve lost weight.

Forty pounds gone. This is something I’ve always wanted but have never been able to achieve. For over 35 years, more than two thirds of my life, I’ve obsessed over getting thin. I’ve dreamed, begged, starved, smoked, over-exercised and even taken diet pills. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to shed any weight for any substantial period of time.

Then this happened. Poof. A diet worked!

My extra weight disappeared. I’ve dropped from a size 12 to a size four.

I eat plenty of healthy nourishing food and am smack in the middle of a normal BMI. In addition to my size reduction, I’ve cut my hair short, colored it almost black, gotten glasses, and pierced my nose.

Okay—point taken. I look different. Maybe dramatically. It’s hard for me to know.

Some people have admitted they don’t approve of my changes. I have been told these changes are self-absorbed and unhealthy. I’ve been told I looked better before. I was told I have a problem. People who love me have said this.

And when these things are spoken out loud, I don’t know how to respond because I haven’t been here in this new body long enough to know it well. It feels like I am borrowing someone else’s clothing and should probably give them back. But then it also feels like I am birthing something raw and important.

These days, I’m doing an abundance of yoga.

When I go to my mat, I couldn’t care less what size jeans I wear.

My yoga is about sensation and breath and staying with what is happening in the moment—thoughts about the size of my body don’t get head space if I surrender. Surrender means to stay on the mat. Breathe and feel. Don’t flinch. Don’t even begin to go into, “Poor me! I’m fat or Yeah Me! I’m rocking it thin.”

My fat/thin thoughts are stories I tell myself to keep from feeling truth. And the truth of who I am is much more fascinating than my size.

When I am in the midst of my yoga practice, no matter what’s going on in my life, I’ve learned there is nothing I can’t be with.

And like most of us, I’ve had to deal with difficult stuff-guilt, loss, shame, anger, disappointment and betrayal. These are a few of the things I’ve had to sit with. I may not be perfect, but I am resilient.

A regular yoga practices teaches me I am bold.

I agree with the yoga community that bodies of all sizes are beautiful, but I think we need to go deeper than this.

When I look out at my students while I teach, I see vast beauty. But it’s the students willingness to be real and vulnerable which is gorgeous. Not their size, ability, shape or form.

Let’s go deeper than curvy and thin and stop equating body size with beauty. Its a trap.

Size is just a thing.

I have been both an overweight and thin yogi. Each has its own advantages.

I loved being large like Kali and knowing I had thick strong legs that would never fail me. I liked the feeling on the yoga mat of being too big and even something to be fixed according to our fitness standards and feeling like I could plug myself into the ground while standing in Warrior Two and and flip my middle finger up at the world.

Sometimes, in my more luscious form, I felt so beautiful it scared me. This feeling had nothing and everything to do with my size.

Being thin on the mat has its advantages too. I can easily bind in poses that I couldn’t even begin to achieve when my body parts were thicker. I can easily wrap my arms and bones around my torso, shoulders, back and thighs.

I feel more like a snake or a bird than a mammal. 

I can jump back into Chataranga and land with precision. I can easily lower my lighter body from high plank to the ground. On my back, I love running my hands over my newly found hip bones. Self-love comes to me now in different ways.

Please don’t think my weight loss is about cultivating beauty. Its not.

Beauty is merely one of the places I want to live my life from.

Kindness, compassion, non-judgement and truthfulness are starting to appeal to me more than beauty.

I used to think I cared a lot about meeting societies definition of what is beautiful. I felt ripped off that I wasn’t thin. But doing yoga, while losing weight, has taught me I don’t really care about what society expects as much as I thought I did.

In the end, striving to be beautiful or thin wasn’t as fascinating as I thought. It hasn’t saved me.

Yes, I still wear makeup and have a closet full of smaller sized clothes, but the more I’ve lost weight and line up with society’s definition of what is acceptable, the more I feel like its a waste. Beautiful and thin are losing their charge.

So for now I stay light. Not because of any standard nor because this lighter self feels more like the “real” me.

I stay here because it’s new and unfamiliar. Because I feel vulnerable and weird. My yoga practice tells me that being with what feels unsteady and scary is my soul place, the place where growth and transformation occur.

“My teacher told me one thing. Live in the soul.” ~ Mystic Lalla

I’m pretty certain our souls don’t care what size we are.

Whether my body is big and strong or thin and light, I want to live in the place that doesn’t care what the American or Yoga cultural handbook for women’s body says. I recognize now these messages are a conspiracy to keep us small.

I couldn’t discern this as a young girl of 13 when my body and weight issues began. And right now, I will also not listen to what anyone else is telling me about my size.

Lalla said, “The soul, like the moon, is new, and always new again.”

And so am I.

I have the right to change and try new things. I have the right to continuously create myself.

As women, when we set ourselves free from cultural expectations, and create changes in our bodies or lives because we want to, than we can begin to experience who we truly are.  And its a lot more fascinating than being beautiful (or smart, rich or perfect) and its a lot bigger that size.


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Author: Anne Falkowski

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: flickr, flickr

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