One thousand six hundred and twelve.
That’s approximately the number of times I’ve wrestled with my resolution in the last thirty something years. Passing Mondays that heralded a change in habits for the perpetually “not good enough” me. Exercising more, eating less, eating nothing, eating green, moving more, eating plants (????), doing more yoga, harder yoga, better yoga, bigger poses, blah,blah, blah.
Better me bullshit that I have totally bought into. Starting every Monday, waning by Wednesday and forgotten by Friday. A wobbly hamster wheel of never quite getting there. Never quite enough.
Three hundred and eighty four.
I estimate the number of times I turned down an invitation to swim or go to the beach because I was terrified of putting on a swimsuit. I still remember the day I was asked to go out on a boat when I was eighteen. I really wanted to go, but the thought of putting on that blue and white bikini that my boyfriend bought for me gave me chills. Exposed, repulsed, recoiling from his camera- he was so mad at me! He made me pose for the photo, calling me silly, his own confusion was tangible. What was wrong with me?
What indeed? I still have that photo. I look shy, shallow, empty. I had a hole in my cup and it was never full. My kids have said I look beautiful but I know the truth.
Beauty is something that fills you up. It’s about saying yes and showing up and being grateful. It’s something that I learned way too late in life and I feel like I need to make up for lost time. This photo is evidence of me at my least beautiful. As a yoga teacher I’m awake to beauty’s detractors- doubt, shame, lack, loathing and low self esteem. I hear you. I see you.
I hear women talking about their green tea diet thing or coconut cleanse or cellulite scrub. I’ve seen women lament over thigh gaps and yoga bums and sinew. Work out, work hard, arse kicking asana or wobbly baby bellies and inflexible extremities. All to which I say a resounding “Enough!”.
Yesterday, somewhere, not so far from all of us, a woman left this Earth forever. She’s entirely imaginary but she’s not really. She had a family that thought she was the centre of the universe, a husband who adored her, an old boyfriend who never got over her and friends who will celebrate her birthday forever. But…she’s gone.
You might have lost someone just like this. If you haven’t, picture this woman in your mind. Give her a big heart and warm hug and a few love handles for good measure. Make her real (because somewhere she is). And then ask yourself this question…
What would she give for my beautiful body? My chance at life? My wobbly bits and tight hamstrings and lack of cleavage?
Yoga is not a workout routine. Yoga is about celebrating your body and your heart’s connection to the whole universe. It’s 90minutes once or twice a week to say no to judgement, no to resolutions and no to doubt.
To all of my friends, I’m going to make you a promise. I will hold the space for you to say yes.
Yes to moving with joy.
Yes to laughter.
Yes to other women and the bonds of friendship.
Yes to love and compassion.
Yes to you, your needs, your dreams, your feelings.
Yes to a glorious window of space in your life.
Yes to quiet. To a salve, to soothe.
Yes to feeling better.
Yes to a free hug and a cup of tea and some jangley indian tunes.
Yes to peace residing within you.
Yes to you.
…and no fucking way to thigh gaps. Ever. Promise.