Monthly Archives: June 2016

Thank you yoga, Thank you teachers.

It’s International Day of Yoga. My friend reminded me last week with a little nudge, nudge and soft encouragement that maybe I should do something for it.

 

I don’t have any special class or event planned and I’m hoping I’ll make it to class tonight or even to my mat to move a little and meditate. But what I will do, what I will honor is what this practice has done for me. And what I have been able to do for myself by way of my yoga practice.

 

I used to squeeze my thighs so hard to try to get them to look more stick-like. I’d pinch my belly fat and imagine how much better my life would be if I could just cut it off. I calculated every calorie going into my body and how each calorie (and then some) would go out. My mind was consumed and I was completely obsessed. My obsession with food and how I could control my body took over my life.

 

Yoga sandwiched my eating disorder. My practice began when I was 16 and my eating disorder was full throttle around 19 – so I was practicing yoga all through my disorder. But what I know now is that during a lot of that time, I wasn’t really practicing. I was going through the motions of yoga. Showing up, rolling out my mat, bowing my head and saying namaste at the end of class. I nailed poses ease because I’m fairly strong and fairly flexible and have always had great proprioception. What I wasn’t doing though was connecting. I was completely disassociating from my body and for a while there, I was using yoga as just another form of exercise to burn off those calories.

 

This all shifted when I found a small studio in Bloomington, Indiana and a teacher by the name of Wendy. I didn’t even know what style of yoga we were practicing (turns out it was astanga) add to be honest I can’t tell you a whole lot of the asana that I learned – but what stays with me to this day is the feeling of entering into a safe space. It was always quiet when I walked into the building, up the stairs and turned the corner. Everyone spoke with a hushed tone as we set up our mats and gathered our props. The space and the time was sacred.

 

Wendy didn’t tell me how or what to feel. She instead created opportunity for me to feel. I kept returning to her classes, as often as I could fit them into my schedule and budget. It was in this space that I remember looking at thighs and bursting into tears because for the first time I saw them as something other than “too big.” My thighs, for the first time ever, were strong and beautiful and amazing.

 

I came home to my body for what felt like the first time. That was inner peace. That was my invitation to heal and no longer allow myself to stray and disassociate from my body and being.

This was the tip of the iceberg and there have been many more teachers since then who helped facilitate my healing – and still do to this day. So, I can’t stress this enough but  … Thank you teachers.

 

IMG_9114On this international day of yoga I also want to acknowledge the practice for what it has brought me – healing and inner peace. Eating disorder recovery is not a one and done deal. It takes time and it too is a part of my practice: staying the course, staying connected, noticing when I get triggered, and repatterning my responses.

 

Thank you yoga.

 

I would love to hear from you: How has yoga impacted your life? Whether you just recently got your feet wet or are a long-time practitioner – what have you noticed?

 

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Finding Freedom in Forgiveness

It was not until recently that I noticed I have been holding onto a lot of pain, anger, guilt, and resentment from past relationships. Going back as far as high school, I’ve been storing all of these emotions in their respective boxes on shelves in my brain and tucked away in my heart.

 

Relationships, I am FINALLY beginning to understand, have a much bigger impact on our hearts and psyches than I ever gave them credit for. When we enter into relationships, we open our hearts, make ourselves vulnerable, and hope for the best. And it is impossible to avoid uncomfortable feelings if we want to have honest and authentic relationships.

 

I see old patterns play out in my current relationship, in dynamics with friends, and even in work. It’s the quintessential definition of “living in the past.” I hold onto limiting beliefs about myself and the way others perceive me based on stories from my past.

 

I never gave (most of) these relationships – their start, middle, and end – the attention they deserved. Especially the end. I have always had a lot of pride in my ability to recover quickly from a breakup – as if moving on to the next person (a new boyfriend) or thing (a triathlon) were the ultimate example of resilience.

 

What I’m coming to terms with is this: My pattern of brushing unexpressed emotions under the rug is not resilient and it certainly is not forgiveness.

 

It is a relief to finally understand the importance of forgiveness – to not only forgive the men I have been in relationship with (or friends I have let drift out of my life) but to also forgive myself for behaviors I am not proud of because I now KNOW these behaviors do not define me.

 

Forgiveness, it turns out, has almost nothing to do with the person you are forgiving and almost everything to do with you. When I forgive someone, I allow myself to acknowledge how I feel AND release myself from that feeling. And often the forgiveness, I’m noticing, is not about something someone did maliciously. Often I need to forgive someone for making a simple choice that had nothing to do with me.

 

This practice of forgiveness is not limited to romantic relationships – I recognize it’s going to be a lifelong practice and commitment. For now though, the light shines on the relationships that have shaped so much of the last 15 years of my life – since I was 17 I have been in and out of relationships. And I don’t regret it for a second but I have been on cruise-control. I let things slip through the cracks and did not do the full work of building my emotional resilience and allowing myself to really go deep. To be uncomfortable and really feel the pain, anger, and sorrow and to release myself from the grasp of guilt, or worse, of shame.

 

The thing is, if I don’t go through this process and forgive and forgive and let go and release, then I am not being true to myself and I am not making space for any current or new relationship in my life – romantic or otherwise – to really take flight and reach new heights. Sweeping old pain under the rug is limiting and emotionally paralyzing. It is living in a fear state.

 

My boyfriend drew the connection between what I’m going through and the movie High Fidelity. It’s the one where John Cusack plays an adorable curmudgeon of a record store owner who revisits his top 5 breakups. I can’t even tell you how many times I have seen this movie and it’s not until we watched it a few weeks ago that I finally understood why on earth someone would do this!

 

It’s to find freedom.

 

I’ve never been in prison, but I’ve been behind emotional bars and it’s time to start knocking them down one at a time.

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