“The human body is the best picture of the human soul.” ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
Most people associate yoga with loss.
Loss of weight. Loss of fears, insecurities and old stories. Loss of former versions of themselves.
It’s true. You do lose a lot practicing yoga.
But you also gain—perspective, insight, knowledge, understanding, compassion, love.
I personally, have gained as a result of practicing. Yes, yoga has made me bigger. I’m expanding, everywhere. Especially in my heart and mind.
Since I started practicing yoga I have grown so much that I don’t even recognize the person I was when I began.
She looks different, that old self. Less full. Lighter, but so much heavier. Thin but so rigid. Tall but shrunken in stature.
She senses differently. There is a renewed and vibrant energy in this new self. A consistent sound of joy in her voice, a willingness in her touch, an openness in her attitude, a shift in perspective.
This person is vibrating at a whole different, bigger level.
I am larger now, in every way, and I can see it quite clearly on, and off, the mat.
And that’s just it, the off the mat part. Because what is most interesting to me in this exploration is the connection of this in, and to, my body, and how yoga has allowed me to explore how what is happening on my insides manifests on my outsides.
For example, I’ve suffered from stomach issues for years, since I was a teenager actually. I’ve since learned this has a whole lot to do with the first three chakras and very little to do with a “faulty” digestive system.
When my gut hurts, my self esteem is suffering. I don’t feel financially strong, I experience ambivalence in my work, I’m not connected or grounded and I have mass quantities of self doubt. When I work that out through asana, it goes away and I am healed, for some time.
When I am having heart palpitations, my throat hurts and I have a sense of urgency, it’s because I feel stifled in my work, my words or my right to express my authentic self and deepest desires.
Even more, the actual physical shape of my body changes as a reflection of my emotional state of being.
Times when I was very thin I was also unhappy and trying to control my life through a selective abstinence from a full life. Periods when I was carrying extra pounds were also terms marked with great burden. I had thrown myself so fully into caring for other people, into taking on their hurts, pains and troubles and stuffing my own down deep and I actually grew in size.
When I was working out intensely and consequently the most fit I’ve ever been in my life? I was happy and healthy, but I was in also self defense mode. Protecting. Seeking validation. Hard on the outside to appear tough on the inside.
Yoga has shown me where to find a middle ground, how to be neither too hard, nor too soft, and how to love my chassis for the amazing gift is is. I have a different perspective on self care, and what overall health looks like. Now, through my practice, I have created an awareness of the most powerful connection of my body, mind and spirit and I can accept what arises on my mat with strength, and with grace.
I’m prepared to examine my life as it actually is, not as I wish it to be.
Today I stand in tadasana just a little softer around the edges, all of them, but in happy acceptance of that fact.
I’m fuller, because I’m actually more full of life.
Author: Michelle Sweezey
Editor: Travis May