International Yoga Day

Today is International Yoga Day. BARF

But it turns out that it was actually made a holiday by the United Nations General Assembly, put forth for consideration by the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, and I guess that’s kinda cool. Maybe it’s not that Hallmark-y after all.

OK, OK, yeah it is.

Anyway I wasn’t going to post anything, because pfft, but now I am. Because certain things that my relationship with yoga has given me, have been great sources of strength and peace in recent days. And maybe that’s worth sharing.

As you might already be aware, the other day my neighbor asked me if I’ve put on weight.
Just a little while ago, walking down the street minding my own business, someone told me I’m getting too skinny.

Neither of these observations is accurate, in my estimation.

In between that first annoyance and this last, have been no less than 20 other bits of unwanted attention. A snide remark here, a kissy noise there. A catcall from a rooftop, a truckful of pervy men at a stoplight. It seems everyone thinks they have a right to vocalize an opinion on your body.

But, what they think doesn’t matter. 
What anyone thinks, doesn’t matter. 
What you think of me, is not my business.
Why? Because yoga.

It turns out that my relationship with yoga, gave me a relationship with my body. One that I didn’t know I didn’t have, and one that I didn’t even know I needed. Yoga has taught me to meet my body where it’s at. To accept it, exactly as it is. And to gently coax a little more out of it. Today, and every day.

To continually befriend it and appreciate it. It’s not a skinsuit, submitted for your approval.

As a yoga teacher, I have accompanied hundreds of bodies on their journey toward acceptance. I have seen people make shapes with their bodies that they’ve never made before, and I’ve seen their faces turn toward me, beaming with sheer delight and excitement: “holy shit Emily look at the thing I’m doing how am I doing this what is happening OMGOMG!!”

And I’d always beam with pride right back. Yes, you are an absolute marvel! You are incredible, a true miracle. Look at you! Thank you for showing up today. Thank you for inviting me on this trip with you. Thank you for trusting me. I love you.

Over my years of teaching, I became very keen on how many different bodies there are out there. Some bodies will absolutely shock you with their flexibility, or their strength, or their grace, or their stamina. Every body’s got something special. You cannot tell what you’re going to get, as a teacher, just by looking at a new student. You really must explore alongside them. I had some very long relationships with some students, and their bodies changed a lot over the years. That’s the plan. Change your body, change your mind.

Over my years of teaching, I also became very sensitive to how people viewed me, as a teacher. When you have this kind of relationship with people, it gets intimate, but not in the way that word might conjure. They look to you for guidance and also for approval.

I picked up on this and after a while I stopped commenting on their new pants, whether they’d lost weight. And (as most polite company knows), of course you never ask if someone’s gained weight. I just stopped talking about their bodies and what they were putting on their bodies. None of that matters, least of all my opinion of it. The size of your body doesn’t matter, your new Lulu pants don’t matter, and my opinion on any part of it absolutely does not matter.

My opinion doesn’t matter because it’s your body. My hope for anyone, even now, even though I don’t teach anymore, is that you feel good and healthy and strong and able, and that you 100% go on with your bad self every single chance you get. I hope you dress that body however you like, and I hope you eat that whole cake, if that’s what you’re doing today.

We have to figure out a way to stop letting other people’s opinions of our bodies matter. Easier said than done, I get it.

What we think of ourselves… that’s what matters. 
Your opinion of yourself is in fact everything.

Happy International Yoga Day. I hope you’re feeling strong, and empowered, and purposeful, and all-around good today.

*****

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