“Loving yourself is the greatest revolution.” ~Unknown
I’ve spent most of my life struggling with my weight and trying desperately to fit the idealistic image of beauty that our culture celebrates.
As a young teen, I was obsessed with magazines and all their secrets to be prettier and have a better butt and get your crush to notice you. I see now how desperate I was at such a young age to feel beautiful. Nothing seemed to work, though, as years passed and my need to fit the ideal beauty image only increased.
In high school I learned to skip meals, and in college I learned to combine food restriction with exercise. Even then, I don’t remember being happy with my body.
Over many years my body and my weight have changed drastically. Also, struggling with depression and anxiety has meant trying different prescriptions, all with weight gain as a side effect. It’s contributed to more body changes, especially in recent years.
The more my weight changed, the harder it became to reside in my own body. I didn’t feel like myself anymore, and I didn’t look or move like I once did.
I looked back on when I was thinner and remembered that I was unhappy at that size, but now I’d kill to have that old body back.
It was painful to look at myself in photos. I started avoiding old friends and acquaintances because I didn’t want anyone to see my new body. Every pound I weighed carried shame and self-blame. My body was the enemy and I was at war.
In the midst of trying new ways to manage my anxiety and depression, I came across yoga therapy. It was life changing for me. I found that I felt better after every session, even amid a severe depressive episode. To feel a mood shift in the slightest degree was miraculous, and I was hooked.
I needed more yoga in my life and, being the academic that I am, I decided to study it. I found a local program that specialized in training yoga teachers and yoga therapists, and a new journey began.
The first thing I learned was that yoga means union. It aims to unify the mind, the spirit, and (lucky me) the body. As a woman currently waging war on her body and studying yoga at the
same time, things were about to hit the metaphorical fan.
Not too many months into my yoga studies, I found myself in treatment for an eating disorder. I had to learn, or in some ways, re-learn, how to connect with my body. Turns out there are a variety of sensations and sensitivities in the body that we can (and should) tune into.