Overcoming Other’s Opinions on the Mat

by | Jul 1, 2019

I first began yoga for my joint health. I had desperately wanted to run, but my joints were not receptive to my weight and gait back then. So, I would drag my ass to the yoga studio for the asana, and without fail, each class would be followed by lots of swearing and sweat that came with moving my overweight body in a hot, crowded room. 

Oddly, I was 30 pounds heavier but 30 times more confident in my body. That may sound counterintuitive to our society’s current beauty standards, but it was only when I began to shed some weight that I truly began to feel the pressures of conforming my body to such standards.

“What started out as a healthy lifestyle change turned into a hairy limbo with my body image.”

What started out as a healthy lifestyle change turned into a hairy limbo with my body image. People began to notice me. Friends, family, and even strangers told me I was beautiful. I began to receive the kind of attention I had never received before, just because the numbers on the scale began to drop. It made me feel like I was now and only now worthy of love and attention. This toxic association of my body to my self-worth turned me into an obsessive and restrictive dieter, bloating my body and mind with countless binge-eating sessions and negative self-talk. The only break I could give my manic mind was on the mat, when I moved to the sound of someone else’s voice and let the chatter between my ears drown out. 

With time, the growing flexibility and strength gave me something to be actually proud of with regards to my body, not its size. Without me realizing, the growing space within my mind and heart allowed me to store what I learned on the mat and offered me the tools to live a more confident life off of the mat. Most importantly, the yoga community that welcomed me not only showed me friendship and compassion, but also the strength and love I desperately needed in innumerable instances of self-doubt. Yoga and the yoga community helped me see that what I see in the mirror is not reflective of my self-worth, and that I can use my pain and struggles to help others realize it too.

No, yoga is not a cure-all, and I am still not without my ailing moments of body-negativity, but it is a catch-all—a safe space to dump all my struggles and start my journey toward self-love over and over again.