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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tip of the Week: Love Your Body!

This week's tip is something so simple, and yet for a lot of us is the biggest struggle with our practice. And that is to appreciate and love our bodies. Love every small accomplishment we make, and love wherever we are right here and now.  It's so easy to find faults and have goals to work on, but what's more important is to realize the small changes our bodies and minds make each time we practice. Whatever shape you're in, however flexible you your body and where you are in your practice. Your body and practice might not be exactly where you want it to be "yet", but appreciate all that you have and can do "now". 

The following story is beyond inspirational and admirable of a woman who has been practicing Bikram for the last 9 months. Her blog "Confessions of a Hawaiian Princess: One Woman's Journey to Greater Health" can be found by clicking (here).

This Wednesday will mark the nine month anniversary of the day I started Bikram. Nine months usually signifies the birth of a some thing. In my case, in this case it’s the realization that I’m capable of making the choice, of taking action to create change and work toward the body I want to have.
I sat down last night to write in my journal thoughts I have about my body in this moment, in this now. I’m tired of feeling my stomach resting on my thighs when I sit down. Mind you it used to be worse when I was heavier, but still…’s a feeling I don’t like. I’ve written a bit lately on my facebook page about taking action to change that, but I woke up this morning with the idea that I’d detail my efforts.
By actively and consciously thinking about the movements and efforts I’m undergoing to activate my core and shrink my abdomen, I can track my progress, and that’s one of the best ways of feeling better about myself—seeing ALL KINDS of progress.

I’m focusing here on some of the poses of the standing series in the Bikram sequence. Some day when time allows I’ll do an entry on all the poses. I’ve included pics, but please bear in mind that I’ve used my camera with a 10 second timer so the poses aren’t my full expression. I have attempted in each pic to be consciously activating my core.
Everything comes from the breath.

Pose 1: Standing Deep Breathing
Here I’m making an effort to keep my core activated when I inhale AND exhale. This is something I’ve had to work toward. I didn’t always have the abdominal strength to keep my core activated while exhaling. I know when I first tried it I would hold my breath when I exhaled. Now I BREATHE while keeping my core tightened!

Pose 2: Half-Moon
It’s one thing to bend sideward. It’s another to activate my core and bend from there. When I first started doing the yoga I’m not sure I fully grasped how to move from my core, but, as hard as it is, I feel stronger for moving from my core.

Pose 3: Awkward
Oy. It’s my nemesis, this one, BUT when I pull in my core while I squat I can FEEL my abdomen lift off my thighs and that’s a pretty cool feeling!

Pose 4: Eagle
When I pull in my core here I can bend my standing leg deeper, and I FEEL a greater sense of balance. The more balance I feel on the mat, the more I feel it OFF the mat!

Pose 5: Standing Forehead to Knee
Another nemesis! Here I’ve discovered a trick: when I activate my core AND lift my abdomen with my hands I can lift my leg higher, which strengthens my leg and trains my abdomen that it’s NOT the boss of THIS BODY!!!

Pose 6: Standing Bow Pulling Pose
No pic here! And this one I’m having lots of trouble with. I don’t feel like I’m coming from my core. I feel like I’m just doing all I can to stay upright.

Pose 7: Standing Separate Leg Stretch
When I don’t go down with my core here, I’ve noticed I feel it in my lower back and NOT in a good way! I’m finding I do feel like my torso is longer when I go down in this one.  It’s not about how far I go—it’s about moving my body in a healthy manner so it can reach further than where it’s been.

Pose 8: Triangle
Here’s the thing with triangle. Here’s the thing with my real desire to focus on my core, my alignment. I don’t want to waddle! It’s true! When I was not in shape, when I was not active I WADDLED.  I didn’t like it. It’s one of the main reasons I LOVE yoga so much. The deeper my practice goes, the less I waddle, the more my body is in alignment. When I take pictures these days, for the most part my feet are aligned, instead of torqued!  When I hike, my feet point straight ahead. So when I do triangle, I look to feel that I have engaged my core and that my back is in alignment. I can go deeper into triangle when I’m not in alignment but that defeats the purpose.

Pose 9: Standing Separate Leg Head-to-knee pose
Same as above basically. It’s easy to bend over. It’s work to move with the breath, but I’m worth IT!!!

Pose 10: Toe-Stand
I can now work on an adapted version of this pose! This helps me see my progress!  And that’s pretty cool!

I want a better life. I don’t mean for that to sound sad. It’s not. I feel so so very grateful for all the wonderful people, places, things that are in my life. I’m very lucky in that regard, and I know it. Working out is hard work. Yoga is hard work. I can sit here and whine and bemoan that I don’t like parts of my body, including my abdomen, or I can celebrate where I am and all the hard work I did to get here, because if I can get here, imagine where I’ll be in a few months!

It’s not that I spend every moment of every class consciously thinking about activating my core or thinking that I wish my abdomen was smaller. I don’t. But I do concentrate on getting into a pose to maximize the benefits and once I’m in the pose I allow my self, my body to be, to explore the depths it’s reaching.

But it’s not just my body, it’s my mind. My ability to express my self here is a direct reflection of my mental growth, a direct reflection that I feel less shame about my body than I used to. I accept my self, this body more. And when I look in the mirror, in class or out of class I have different level of appreciation. I’m not saying my thoughts are always positive, but I’m in such a better place than I was last week, last month, last year.

I may not know where I’m going these days, but I know when I get there I’ll stand tall, with my feet, my back, and my heart in alignment with the universe! 

As I inserted these pics into this post, I could feel my body go into shock. I can’t explain it. It’s one thing to do yoga. It’s one thing to take pics, but to look at the pics is something else. It’s very difficult for me to be this vulnerable. It cuts to my core (no pun intended), but honesty is and has been a corner stone of this journey I’m on. 

There’s nothing wrong with this body. But I can work on making it better in body, mind and soul. That’s what I want. That’s what I deserve. That’s what I’m working toward. 
(And when time allows I’m going to take much better pics–with a smile and a tiara!)


  1. What an inspiration, thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you for sharing my blog! I am so touched by the responses I'm getting!


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