For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been at war with my body. The duo of negative comments, and unsolicited advice have often played the role of the main vocalists as my own thoughts became background noises only complementing them in their duet. As I’ve been progressing in this war, I’ve realized I can’t shut people’s opinions, I can’t change them into believing body shaming is wrong and they will never empathize with the impact their two-word comment can have on me. I’ve realized I am the only one I can change. And when I say change, I don’t mean I will stop calling out people who have body shaming activities, neither will I stop taking a stand for myself. Similarly, by change, I don’t mean changing the way I look. When I talk about change, I mean change in the way I think and feel about my body. Finally ending the war, and coming to peace with the physical presence of who and what I am.
In 2020, when the lockdown started, I was physically and mentally in an unhealthy space. I had gained a lot of weight and was not feeling good about myself. I felt like I was not heading anywhere meaningful in life and found myself stuck in a chain of overeating, unhealthy mindset and lack of motivation. The only thing I could change during that time was myself – lose some weight and practice all the “healthy methods” of coping as ascribed by most mental health pages. And so I did. I started working out, watching what I eat, and most importantly, being conscious of my own emotions and respecting them. While I saw bodily changes, my mindset stayed firm towards the negative side of the spectrum. I didn’t think much of it because I have been that way for a majority of my life, and that feels normal to me.
In August, 2020, I joined a yoga class, based on Instagram recommendations. While it is not always a wise decision to make choices based on what people on the internet are saying, this changed my life. I started training with Bhavana Gowri, an incredible yoga trainer, dancer and all-around immaculate human being who must be protected at all costs. Ever since I joined her classes, I have gained a new and improved perspective of looking at myself and life as a whole.
Here are a few things that yoga has taught me about myself (and life!)
- Trust yourself
Hands down, the most important thing one must learn. I still remember during a backbending exercise, Bhavana had told me to trust myself; because she could easily identify that I was doubting my ability to go deeper into the practice. As soon as she said that, it was as though it was tattooed in my heart. Such simple words – ‘Trust Yourself”, and yet before that instant, no one had ever said that to me. What she told me during the practice has been an answer to all my self-doubting thoughts. Since then, whenever my brain tells me, “You can’t do it”, I answer back with “I trust myself”. For someone who’s lived her whole life under the rock of self-doubt and fear, trusting myself is the most empowering and rebellious thing I have ever done.
2. Set goals, but give yourself the time to be ready to work towards them.
I am an avid goal setter. I usually have daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, yearly goals and more. While I spent so much time setting goals, I never stopped to think if I am ready to work towards those goals. The answer, when I reflected was – I’m not, but I can be. In yoga, you can set goals as to what asana you want to perfect. You can also set a timeline as to when you will/want to achieve them. But unless you are mentally and physically ready to work towards them, you won’t get there. Sometimes, fear stops you. Sometimes, inconsistency. The only thing you can do is prepare yourself towards the goal, identify what can stop you and act as a hurdle and eliminate those hurdles as you move ahead.
3. One day things will just fall into place…. Just keep working hard.
Once you start yoga or anything new, wanting to get better, wanting to go deeper into any pose can be very addicting. It would look so good once you start doing it perfectly – it would be so amazing. You visualize yourself in that perfect pose, and get motivated to keep practising. But it can be extremely demotivating when you don’t get the hold of a pose. Bhavana once told me, “One day, you’ll unlock it”, while I was practising Chaturanga and could barely bend my arms from the high-plank position. “You have the strength, your body is just not ready.”, she said. When you don’t get towards your goal, the ideal societal way of acting on it is self-blame, but in reality, you’re doing your best, and things are trying to fall in perfect position – it’s just not the time yet. Something is not ready. What you have to know and believe is that, one day things will fall into place. You will get that pose. You will get your dream job. You will find your person. You will bag that scholarship. You have the strength. You have the potential. Just keep working hard and believe in yourself.
4. The universe is inside of you.
I’ve lived a long time on the planet of ‘I’m not enough’. Not good enough. Not capable enough. Not likable enough. Not beautiful enough. All these not enoughs have led me to believe that I am not deserving enough, to live, to dream or to be happy. The most important lesson I’ve learnt from yoga is I am enough. I am enough because I hold a universe within me, that homes a million enough emotions, a million different thoughts and a million different possibilities. I am enough because I am trying. I am enough because I showed up. And I am also enough without any because. I am just enough.
To summarize everything yoga has done for me and taught me in one piece of writing is both inefficient and unfair. It has been the most powerful jutsu contributing in helping me win the war against myself. It has taught me numerous life lessons and guided me towards a world of knowing, understanding and accepting myself. Through every practice, I’m reminded more and more of healing, self-love and forgiveness. Each practice is like a story of rekindling with my trauma, accepting it and at the end of the practice, realizing it’s not my fault, I am deserving of love and happiness and I am in control of my life. Like Susan David says in her book Emotional Agility, “And once the war is over, change can begin.”
August is my one year anniversary of healing through yoga. One year of pushing myself, of respecting myself and trusting myself. I can’t wait to uncover what hidden paths lie ahead of this journey. Cheers to more progress, more learning, more acceptance!