I Take My Shirt Off at Yoga Because it's Hot
I didn't want to try yoga. My few experiences with it had been slow and boring and I didn't get anything out of it except confirmation that it really wasn't for me.
Until my dear friend and yoga guru, Jen Rochkind, convinced me to try Corepower.
Corepower Yoga is an amalgam of a physical and spiritual workout. Pushing yourself -- and sometimes not pushing yourself -- to honor your body. To do what you need and what your body needs and to acknowledge that what felt right yesterday might not be right for your body today.
Before my experience with this style of yoga, I never would have considered myself a spiritual person -- I'm a converted Jew who gives my kids a super magical Christmas and the term "spiritual" for me, was reserved for hipsters living in Venice Beach. But after Corepower, I changed my tune.
This is one instance where I feel like writing about it can't give you the full experience, so my friends Lana Safoian, Jen Rochkind and I made a video for you to follow along with here. (And a special thank you to my husband for editing out most of the airplanes and lawnmowers in the background. It's a talent I didn't know he had until yesterday).
So what does this have to do with body confidence?
When I first started Corepower, I always kept my shirt on, even in the 103 degree rooms. I was keenly aware of what I looked like when I practiced and wouldn't have wanted my tummy to hang over my yoga pants when I'd sit, bend or fold. It was about the workout, sure. But I was also very concerned with what I looked like while I practiced.
Somewhere along the line, though, my perspective shifted. I began to realize more and more that this was about me and not anyone else in that room. That if I focused inward, or on my third eye and fuzzed out the rest, I could get in touch with myself and not care what I looked like on the outside. And finally? I'm actually quite happy with what I look like because I've realized that my body is just right...for me.
So now at yoga, if I'm hot, I take my shirt off.
Have I finally landed at a place of body confidence at the ripe age of (excuse me, I'm not telling?)
"Body confidence is about appreciating the things that our bodies can do, rather than what they look like", says Los Angeles based Registered Dietician, Lori Lichterman.
She also acknowledges it's not easy in today's society.
"A healthy weight is a range, not an exact number on a scale," she says. "And it's important to remember [sometimes] when we think we need to lose five to ten more pounds, the reality may be that's not what our body's actually need".
"It's a challenging thing to change our focus", she says "but if we can remind ourselves daily --maybe with some morning mantras -- that we are beautiful because of who we are and what we do, then perhaps those five to ten pounds become less of a big deal".
If weight loss is necessary for your health and wellness, then it's important to love your body through the process, and not succumb to the very human way of thinking, "if I lost the weight, then I'd be happy". Because as with anything else in this life, how we look at our bodies is all a state of mind.
So choose happy now, even if you're on step one of your journey.
"With just a shift in perspective, there is no starting tomorrow," says Lichterman. "You are not falling off a wagon and getting back on, over and over again. You are simply taking steps when you can, big or small, to improve your health. Suddenly a ten minute workout in your room, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, becomes an accomplishment towards a greater goal rather than a disappointment because it wasn't the hour long spin class that you weren't able to get to."
I felt a shift in myself when I stopped thinking that if I didn't work out five days a week that it wasn't worth doing at all. Or if every bite I took wasn't a "healthy" one that I threw the day away and might as well eat everything. I don't want to be skinny anymore. I want to be healthy. And I want to be a good example to my kids. And eat what I want within reason. I want it all. But mostly I want happiness, balance and self acceptance.
I don't think there's ever been a better time to embrace the body you were born with. Or the one you're working with right now. Because when you change your perspective on your body and the way you fuel it and exercise it, you are enough. The body you have is enough and you don't need to compare yourself to the "perfect" images dangled in front of you in magazines and Instagram.
Can you avoid the extremes? The I'll start tomorrow's? The unrealistic push for an unachievable perfection?
Let's love ourselves where we're at today. Feel good about where we are TODAY.
And go ahead. Take your shirt off if it's hot. Because you are beautiful, just the way you are.
A special thank you to Lana Safoian for letting us use her backyard and her yoga awesomeness, to Jen Rochkind for her beautiful power vinyasa flow and message she put together just for us, and to Lori Lichterman, RD, for her expert opinions on nutrition, health and body confidence. I'm so grateful to you all.
Stay tuned because Synthia Praglin will be back soon with more Q+A, this time on "Body After Baby + Breastfeeding". Missed Synthia's interviews last week? Check out "My Daughter Isn't Going to Be a Gymnast" and "Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Mommy + Me".