Yesterday I wore a lycra jumpsuit to yoga, and that evening I wrote a post about it on Instagram. These two things might suggest that I truly am ‘one of those types of yoga people’ that you might have already suspected I was. And it’s true – I am that person. This is me. As they say, you can take the girl out of the Gold Coast, but you can’t take the Gold Coast out of the girl!
The thing is, I’ve got to tell you that these seemingly superficial and image-orientated experiences were incredibly liberating and unexpectedly soul nourishing. I know how much looking at myself in a mirror and wearing fashionable yoga clothes stinks of ego-boost and self-involvment. Tick and tick. But like life itself, they broke the stereotype, the reality is quite different to the image. Wearing sexy lycra suit + posting onto social media actually became an opportunity to consider / dismantle these very things – you know – the ego and self-image?
It started with my disorganisation, probably something you can relate to in a heartbeat. Laundry. I actually love laundry, but occasionally it loves me too much. Yesterday it simultaneously beat me and saved me (of sorts). It forced me to wear an outfit that I had only worn in my mind, on a different body, in an imaginary world. You know the world – the one where you are thinner, younger and without cares, not intimidated.
Earlier that morning my husband and I went for a swim. I exercise to put my boy into action, and a long time ago I realised why I feel better after moving my body, it’s because the body becomes a felt experience instead of a seen experience. I am *in* my body when I walk , swim, practice yoga, meditate or whatever other action. For me movement is embodiment – I realign my perspective (and world) starting from within my body. But this is me, and if it isn’t resonating with you that is absolutely fine. I meet many people who it does resonate with in a week; it’s a thing. Maybe your thing, maybe not your thing. And this idea will change over time. That’s the hope anyway.
But if you have some residual body-dysmorphic thinking going on in your mind – leftover from childhood, teenager-land or current adulthood pressures, then I encourage you to also come up with ways that challenge that thinking. For me it’s movement in some capacity and it’s based on research into how people with eating disorders spend alot of the time looking back towards themselves from outside of themselves, they describe themselves as if they are not in their body – appearance over feeling. It made sense to me, so I came up with a way that I can practioce the very opposite – yoga and exercise and movement for me, it might also be for you. Worth a shot!
Anyway back to the story, I wore the suit, spoke with another lady about the my consciousness of wearing the suit which is actually a fairly ordinary thing to chat to another woman about. I then reassured her that if I could wear this brave suit she could too, drove home and was struck by the conversation and how we are all having these conversations in ourselves about ourselves and who is the original author? I don’t believe half of the things I hear myself, tell myself, in my mind, all the time.
We’ve all seen the beautiful yoga clothes on sale at the moment, shiny and cheap (er) in all their post Christmas lovliness…discounted. There is a yoga that would cringe to think that I want to purchase and buy any of that stuff; that I would want to partake in consumerism, and that’s fine, I know exactly that argument, respect it, and I still want to purchase and wear the pretty clothes. I am 36, 2 kids, 15 years practicing yoga, 9 years teaching it, a female living in a body in the Western world. What I am saying is that I have perfected the skill of analysing stuff; I get the theory against consumerism and capitalism etc etc, but I still want to wear nice clothes to yoga and partake in some kind of yoga fashion.
Back to the story. After teaching a class in the suit, in the health orientated space (with HUGE mirrors everywhere) and having that conversation, I realised that she had held up a mirror to myself more clearly than even that wall of mirrors could have dreamed. She literally spoke my inner dialogue – ‘oh I couldn’t do that’. I wonder if she was also thinking ‘I might do that after I lose 5 kg’ (and man, that 5kg is as slippery as a snake, it’s there one minute and it’s slithered over there the next). Well guess what sister! I gotta tell you something! I just did exactly what you fear, and I can say that if I can do it you TOTALLY can too!
Three things from all this – no-ones yoga is better than another persons yoga (and I know the definition of yoga might not even enable that to make sense!). And just because you like purchasing and wearing yoga clothes doesn’t mean you are less yoga or less authentic than the person who doesn’t. And lastly, there is a very good chance that you have this body-dysmorphic thinking going on if you are anything like me.
I think what I am trying to say is that sometimes when we are honest and authentic with our fears and vulnerabilities rather than pretend to stand above them, if we stop pretending that they don’t affect us we can connect so much more with those we are wanting to connect with. Not everyone will get us, and some will disconnect, some will unfollow. Not everyone will want to get involved. But that is fine, there will be others who do. And these people you may not have expected. I received quite a few unlikely, unknown messages from people who felt similarly. When you do things that scare you, but you believe in, you give people permission to do things that also scare them and they believe in.
And maybe authenticity is the key, being true to who you are no matter what you think you should be. These are just some recent observations I have made this morning.