I ain't got nobody

Yoga has helped me understand that I can’t keep denying that I have a body. I have to deal with my physicality. I am beginning to see that being a physical being is a path, not a limitation.
— Dave. E. yoga student, as quoted in Meditations on the Mat by Rolf Gates

I have a body.

You have a body.

We have a tendency to not like those bodies, or at least not like those bodies the way they are currently. We think we will like them better if they lose 10 lbs or if they build some more muscle or if they just look differently.

I think this is why there is also a tendency for us to gravitate towards ideas and belief systems that posit that we are not our bodies, that we are more than our bodies, that our bodies are just a holding cell for our soul, etc.

I don’t necessarily want to get into a philosophical discussion here and I am not completely disregarding the underlying point of those beliefs, but I am wondering if most of us who lean that direction do so because we don’t like ourselves, we don’t like what we see, and so we grab any excuse to throw it away.

We look in the mirror, we don’t like what we see, so we tell ourselves, “it’s ok because I am more than this outward expression; I am more than this body.”

But our bodies are a very important piece of who we are. We ARE physical beings, even if you believe that we are also more.

I am not suggesting that we be judged solely on the way we look or how able bodied we are, that would be ridiculous (unless you are vying for beauty contest winner or bodybuilding champion, then you are pretty stuck being judged on your looks and/or able bodiedness), but we are one being, we are one whole, so why separate ourselves into parts?

Yoga is about the body.

I understand that there is more to it, but yoga, as I practice it and teach it, is very much about the physical body. It’s about moving that body around. It’s about getting to know that body a little more intimately.

Breathing is about the body, because the lungs, the ribs, the internal organs are all part of that physical body.

The way we feel, the way we think, the way we perceive, is ultimately about the physical body because the brain is part of that body and the brain is responsible for all those things.

When we go through trauma, we feel it in our bodies, even if it’s not physical assault, even if it was cruelty through words, actions, governmental decisions, you name it.

Our bodies are worthy of our love and attention.

Our bodies are an intrinsic part of who we are.

Our bodies are not to be discarded, but explored, paid attention to, noticed.

For me, it was learning about my body in yoga that created a place of calm in my mind. Breathing, feeling and noticing ever more nuanced pieces and places in my body, moving it around the mat and moving it around my world has been revolutionary for me in a way that running, swimming, biking, lifting weights never did. And now I can return to those other activities with this new understanding and a hike through the mountains becomes an even more beautiful experience because my known body comes with me.

So instead of ignoring your body, get to know it. Be fair to it. Treat it like you would treat your own child or your best friend. Would you discard a child or a friend because they looked a certain way or didn’t look a certain way?

Accept your body as the important part of your being that it is!

*** let me emphasise that Ioving your body is not about making it skinny or strong or flexible. I am talking about embracing the fact that you are a physical being. You have a body, so instead of pushing it away for something bigger and more important, include it as a part of your whole being.