***Republished from a few years ago***
I can be called many things, but chief amongst them is feminist.
People had told me I was fat and chubby my whole life, and I always sort of had the innate thought of, “but your perception is terribly skewed”. When I was young I didn’t have an articulate way to put it, but I knew it was them, not me.
My weight loss has not been a giant achievement for me, something that has made me love myself more, or a defining experience. It has been something that happened because I began a yoga practice motivated by self love and the want to improve my life, and free myself from suffering. I honor my body as sacred and wondrous; a place of so much energy, and such magnificence. Heart beating, blood pumping, lungs breathing, liver & kidneys detoxifying, nervous system computing, legs walking, hands holding, eyes open.
I love myself, and have always been deeply grateful for my body, and its mystifying abilities. Nothing breaks my heart more, or empowers me further in my hope to spread the message of yoga as a practice of self- love, than the way women chastise, hate, and hurt their bodies. The way we treat and speak of our bodies is a manifestation of our self worth.
Kim Kardashian is pregnant. She is growing a living, breathing, human being, baby beautiful child inside of her organ. Her breasts are creating milk, an umbilical cord has grown and she is nourishing the small being inside of her daily. The baby hears her voice, feels her emotions, and will soon enough come out of her-in another miraculous, awe inspiring, breath taking act of the female body.
I was inspired to write this because she is being attacked viciously by the media for being too fat. She is THE cover of a tabloid, where in which hideous language is used to describe her beautiful, life giving body. Apparently she is working with two trainers, one of them the notorious and strict Tracy Anderson, because she is so fearful of gaining weight and is planning on plastic surgery (aka being cut open, sedated, and in deep pain for weeks), because of how disgusted she is by herself. Whether or not this is true, millions of women are reading it, digesting it, and allowing deep hatred of themselves and their bodies to be the norm, their samskara.
We have been told over and over again that women should hate their bodies so tremendously that a beautiful, successful, business savvy woman who is literally growing a human being, is being mocked and attacked for being too fat, and no one bats an eye.
Of course so many out there hate themselves and do not even know how to begin to be kind to their bodies, and therefore, themselves.
I cry for the fact that a woman is not allowed to enjoy the sheer wonder of her body during pregnancy and birth; marveling at the phenomenon that is her body, learning to communicate deeply with her body, showing herself respect and kindness and honoring herself regardless of what she may look like; I cry for the fact that a woman is told she is never allowed to do this.
It brings tears to my eyes to see that in our world a woman’s body is so detached from any meaning of humanity that she feels the need to exercise daily with intensity and veracity so that while pregnant she does not gain weight. And that, even promising to cut herself open afterward to appease the masses and quell self loathing, is not enough. Fabricated or not, millions of women have heard the message, and will do the same. They will disown their spirit in their rejection of loving the beautiful home their beautiful hearts reside in; they will hurt themselves, hate themselves, work out vigorously, starve, and feel shame.
Patanjali’s first Yama, Ahimsa, or non-violence/compassion, applies first and foremost to ourselves. How violent it is to allow ourselves to succumb to such hateful messages. The female body is an incredible force, whether she has the ability or chooses to have children. Think of your moon cycle, your period. When you’re in a tribe of women, the same ones at work or in a dorm, your cycles become the same. Your moon cycle reflects the changes in the moon and the tides! If that’s not absolutely tremendous I don’t know what is. My beautiful best friend, Lindsay, shared with me that when we are truly in tune with our cycles, we receive many answers and messages from the universe; I do not doubt this for a moment. See, acknowledge, and love the splendor and magic of your body.
To practice yoga is to turn inward to the voice of our heart, and the wisdom that exists in the body. When we come to the stillness in between inhale and exhale, the quiet that our mind can achieve, and we do so with the motivation of loving ourselves, joy envelops us and a beautiful new relationship with the self, food, and exercise blossoms. You will never starve, pinch at yourself, stare for hours in the mirror with contempt, or work out until you want to faint-you will just stare with wonder and awe at the vast brilliance that you are. You will inhale life, and you will be free.
You deserve pleasure, you deserve to be nourished, and you deserve to be active as a way of caring for yourself, not punishing yourself. All of our actions are a reflection of our self worth; turn inward to find your peace, your truth, and your empowerment. Moments on the mat create lifetimes of joy, knowingness, trust, and peace.
Recognize the limitlessness capabilities and wonders your body holds! From here, in your awe and gratitude, step onto the mat, and hold your body in the deepest compassion.
Open your heart to the idea of being kind to yourself, submerge into yourself to your truth, and free us all.
Please be kind to yourself & please be kind to all women!!!! When we undermine other women, we undermine ourselves. You are my sister, and I love you.
Om Shanti & Blessed Be