November 19, 2022

Challenging the Narrative of “What a Real Yoga Body Looks Like.”

It’s been nine years since I shared my story.

I’m older, hopefully a tad wiser, and with that being said, I’ve realized how much I still have to learn.

Externally, I think the branding and marketing in the yoga community have also grown and begun to show a positive change in overall brand representation. But even so, there is still this underlying sentiment—the same that I wrote about nine years ago that is still a common thought.

Unfortunately, the instance where I was pinched by a student and told I was too fat to be a yoga teacher was just the beginning.

This was the first time of what, over the last almost decade, I’ve come to realize would be a constant in my life. A constant misconception and question that I must field as someone of my body type and physique. Yes, of course, it’s infuriating that people have this belief and let alone, say it to someone’s face.

But this is not why I came to write today. Instead, I want to look at the aftermath on my soul. What has shifted in my being and all I can hope is that this, in some way, might help you if you have had any struggle that is similar. Any constant negative in your life that you have had to adapt to, this is for you.

I was 23 years old when I wrote this first article. A new yoga teacher, new in the yoga world, full of fire, and ready to take a positive spin on anything. I will always be on an eating disorder recovery journey, a constant commitment to myself and my growth. Looking back now, when constantly forced to face these comments, with my background, I can now see how it has worn on me—the wear on my soul from continuously facing this constant external projection that reflects my innermost fears, that I’m not good enough to be loved.

So what do you become after time and time again, fielding the same questions or statements of, “Oh, I thought yoga teachers or someone who practices yoga is supposed to be skinny?” or, “Oh, aren’t you too big to practice yoga?”

Since I can only speak for myself, I’ll tell you what I became. Yes, I became resilient, but I also became bitter and angered.

I wrote a narrative of my life that I then started to live by. As much as I knew these comments were not true, it was impossible to not let them take hold somewhere within me.

Even though I used it as my battle cry, my armor, I still gave it energy and space, allowing it to take hold within me. Over time, this has become a part of my barrier to connection and part of my story as a yoga teacher. And guess what? Shockingly, that doesn’t bring me peace or comfort in my strength. Instead, it brings a hardness to my character, in my soul, and in my being.

As I’ve hardened, there is also a deep sadness that I have felt as I’ve observed myself becoming closed off, afraid to be seen and truly known by the outside world, the yoga community, lovers, new friends.

The more choked out my fire was becoming due to this narrative, the more I let it smoke. I didn’t reach out, even though I know others felt the same way. Instead, I went inward, I got tough, I got hard. But now, I think I’m finally ready to start softening again.

If this is relatable to you in any way and you have similar experiences that reinforce a type of pattern, a belief, or a narrative that you have of yourself, firstly, know you’re not alone.

Secondly, I want us to take a moment to challenge the narrative we’ve shaped our current existence of self around. Especially if you’ve used that narrative as a part of your protection, as I have, I want us to challenge it even more.

Over time, this barrier we’ve put on is not protecting us. Instead, it is shielding us from letting go. From releasing what we thought to be true. The longer we hold onto it, the longer we stay shut off, without community, lonely in our pain, and that is no way to live.

For me, I’ve got to let it go. I want more than what I’ve settled myself to be. Is what my younger self said true and do I still believe my intentions? Yes, of course. But have I become harder and more angered, closing myself off from experiences I so dearly crave due to this narrative? Yes, this is also true.

These things are true and they can live in parallel with each other but what it doesn’t need to be is my life story or my narrative anymore.

I’m ready to release it, close this chapter, and start a new one.

If you’re like me, struggling with something like this, you’re not alone. I’m right here with you and we can begin writing our new stories together.

Connect with me, I want to hear from you. We can do more together than we could ever do alone. Sending love.

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