For some reason or another, I have never fully felt or understood the effects of societies projections on body image, womens bodies especially but mens bodies too. It was this thing that I knew existed but never paid too much attention to. Until recently, I have felt it very strongly and poignantly.
It happened a few weeks ago before I moved. I visited my grandmother and she poked (jokingly or not...i dont know) at me and said that I looked like I had gained weight in my belly.
"Really, Granny? But I feel so strong! Feel my abs of steel!", was my shocked yet humored response.
It wasn't until after I left her house, that I really felt the effects of that comment. Why would she say that? Is that true? Have I gained weight? But how!? I feel like I eat well...I exercise often...and I think well.
(And if you stop reading this post, know that that is ALL THAT MATTERS) Do you eat for nourishment and feel satisfied? Do you exercise because you love it and because it makes you feel well? Do you think well? Are your thoughts positive and clean? Are you kind? If so...continue what you are doing. Nothing else matters!!!!!)
So that one comment got me thinking a bit. But I let it go shortly. Maybe the next day.
Then it really happened! I did it to myself!
I just had a photoshoot with a great photographer here in NYC. I needed an updated headshot and a few yoga pics. He took 250 pictures and gave me the unedited version on a cd to look through.
At home, alone, I was browsing my pictures. Terrible idea. Oh boy, did I start to get critical. "Wow, is that what I look like in that pose? My back and belly make rolls when I do yoga asanas!"
All of a sudden, my self image was shot to shit (temporarily) for at least a few days. Days!
Days of thinking less of myself because of my visual image is too long, even hours is too long. Days of not loving myself completely and entirely is too long. Because you know what? I started to judge and criticize other peoples shortcomings because I was unhappy with my own.
It rippled fast. But I guess when you live with a partner or loved one...there is a mirror to reflect it all. Being critical of my lover (not about self image...but little, silly things) reflected my criticisms of myself. Just like that. Disconnect. An argument. Too many hours of feeling distant and alone.
Too long to not feel love. Yoga is loving the spirit inside of the postures. Not the poses. Or the documented pictures of them. All of that is illusion. Deception. Pictures can be such liars.
Yoga never wants to make you feel less of yourself. If yoga was embodied and wrapped in one enlightened being, yoga would never judge the back or belly rolls. Yoga loves you. Yoga is a tool and guide to loving yourself so you can love your partner, spouse, children, and neighbors more deeply.
Deeply and completely.
Yoga goes inward. Image is outward. So go inward.
It seems recently that I have practiced in or taught yoga in a lot of studios that have huge mirrors showing our physical, outward practice right to ourselves in the moment. Very lovely for all the perfectionistic yogis out there, right?
Okay. So this is the deal. If you are practicing yoga in front of a mirror, or even the next time you look at a mirror...you better damn well be telling yourself that "MY, MY, I AM A SEXY GODDESS (or GOD)"
Critique less and love more.
Love yourself as a way of loving those closest to you. Be good to yourself.
Inwardly, be kind and the rest will follow. Stay soft. Or at least have moments of that soft, truly connected, whole hearted, "I love you no matter what" feeling.
Next time you catch yourself judging your weight, appearance, or image or someone else is judging yours...wait just a minute.
Find interest in this shallow and surface mask society can wear. Ask it where it comes from? Who is affected? What might a trail of these thoughts look like? And what may happen if we don't catch it after a few days? How much pain are we self creating? How much pain can an unconscious and unkind comment cause?
Go deeper. Rise above it. Know it. It exists. Understand it. And turn the critical eye into an open heart.
Our society deeply needs it.
So these pictures are from the shoot. Real. Raw. Imperfect. Zero editing. The truth.
And you know what?
They are fucking fabulous.