Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Yoga From the Inside Out

Because cultural messages about our bodies are so strong and the forces that work to destroy our self-image are so pervasive, having others in our life to mirror to us acceptance and encouragement is crucial.

Christina Sell, Yoga From the Inside Out

I've had an off again, on again relationship with yoga. I first tried it in 1974. I knew nothing about yoga, was just curious. I was new to Dayton and had not yet found a job or made friends and my then husband was completely self absorbed in his first year of law school. I was lonely and thought maybe I'd make some new friends. I found it, well, embarrassing. Way too much attention to the body for me. I felt exposed. I was thin so it was not about the size of my body. It was about not feeling comfortable with my body. As I knew no one in the class or for that matter anyone else doing yoga it felt even more isolating than being alone. So I dropped out. End of yoga

Then, in 1985, after having my first ever massage with a very lovely woman who was also a yoga instructor and was looking for a place to hold a class in my part of town; I volunteered to host a yoga class in my home. This time I made it through all the sessions. It would have been awkward to not participate when it was in my house! The teacher had been trained in Yoga for Round Bodies but I did not know how to ask for help. I was kind of getting the hang of it when she found another, more public, location and I did not move on with the group. I believed I was not a physical person; I did not yet realize that yoga is a spiritual practice too.

In 2002 a friend's daughter was working toward her yoga teacher certification and needed a class to garner teaching hours. This time it was three couples doing downward dog in my living room.  By then I was embarassed by my size so I always took a place behind the others. I found the poses too revealing. Again, once the class was finished, so was I.

Then in 2005 I went to Kripalu in Massachusetts for a weekend class on animal communication. There were free yoga classes every morning so I thought I'd give it another try. The instructor, a normal sized person, said something that stopped me in my tracks. We were doing a twist in a seated position and she said, "Now gently move your tummy to the side and deepen your pose." What? Move your tummy? She did not appear to have a tummy to move! One of the reasons I did not persevere with yoga was because I always felt my stomach got in the way. I had never heard of someone "moving their tummy." This was a revelation. I could adjust my body and do the pose comfortably! It never occurred to me that a normal weight person had to adjust her tummy to do a pose. I thought it was a problem for me because I was overweight and I just had to feel terribly squished to even attempt the pose. Another example of the bad body messages I carried around; since I am heavy, I will suffer. The realization that even thin people might have a tummy to move and that adjusting the pose is normal made me weep with insight and relief.

Now, in 2011, I have another friend doing her yoga teacher training. Lori has taught me that yoga is for everyone and the emphasis is on you and your body, not on doing the perfect pose. And, that yoga is as much a spiritual practice as it is a physical practice. She also keeps reminding me that it is about practice, not perfection. Lori is teaching me to be fully present in my body. I do not think I have ever really done this before.  She introduced me to the book, Yoga From the Inside Out, quoted at the start of this post.


And that brings me to a sunny day in Dayton, Ohio. I'm sitting on my deck after my morning yoga, savoring some fresh fruit, and writing some notes from Yoga From the Inside Out into my journal. Now that I understand that yoga is both a spiritual and physical practice, with emphasis on the word practice, and that I can adapt that practice to me and my body; yoga feels right for me.

While in Florida recently, my goddaughter Kate and I went to  Yoga On the Beach,  morning yoga classes on beautiful Siesta Key Beach. She, and Lori, are part of my tribe who offer the acceptance and encouragement every woman needs about her body. And I am so grateful...

A rainbow backdrop for yoga on Siesta Key


  1. Dear Judy,

    This was a posting so true and honest that it went straight to my heart. THANK YOU!!

    I will look for the book and seriously, I have been thinking about doing Yoga, but just haven't found my niche. I'll try again.

    Judy, you don't want a camera like mine. It is a cheapie and I do work hard on photos, but the quality is bad. Mine is a little 139.00 Canon. Period. One of these days I'll treat myself to a good camera and really dig deeply into photography. I love how intimately we look at things with a close up lens.

    All joys to you,


  2. Sharon,

    Thanks for the lovely comment on my post. I hope you give yoga a try from this perspective.

    I'm trying to decide what kind of camera will work best for my blog and for the simple joy of producing beautiful photographs. I too love a macro look, amazing what is "there." Thanks for your inspiring blog. It makes my heart sing. I've added you to my Blogs I Follow list.


  3. I'm so glad you are liking the book and are joining me on the yogic journey. Accepting my body as it is is daily work for me, but the rewards are worth the work.