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When we think about ﬁtness, we tend to think about two things, what our bodies will look like and how we will feel. As a yoga teacher, the same can be applied to the world of yoga. People generally begin taking yoga classes for several reasons. They need something to help calm their mind, they want to become more ﬂexible, and they are looking for a mind body experience. Being both a personal trainer and yoga teacher, I have witnessed all sorts of transitions, turns and twists with regards to ﬁtness and yoga, pertaining to that of one’s own self conﬁdence, state of mind and body image.
However, there is a dark side to both ﬁtness and yoga as it is currently experienced. Body image has become the epicenter of both forms of practice and exercise. We have seen all the images on the covers of health and wellness magazines, social media, clothing lines and commercials. The unfortunate truth about these sorts of images and commercialized branding of both yoga and ﬁtness, is that the concept of body image has become the focus of both in many respects. Those who do not identify physically with these ﬁtness model types and yoga model types may feel as though they do not belong in either arena or may experience lack of self conﬁdence or insecurity because they do not look like they do. Even when we go to the gym or attend a yoga class, we may feel out of place, insecure and unmotivated to continue a program or practice as a result. Body image is personal and unique to each woman and to each man. Our bodies are our own and like leaves on a tree, differ from that of every other leaf on that same tree. Yet at the same time, it serves as a reminder as I share this analogy: we are all leaves on the same tree, we all are of the same mind and body in some way or another and to continue supporting these strange lines of separation only further bolsters feelings of insecurity, lack of self conﬁdence and so forth. When in fact, both forms of self enhancement should illustrate self conﬁdence, self-security, the feeling of wholeness in one’s own body and mind, no matter what one may look like. The physical transformation and reshaping of the body, which comes in time due to continued efforts and practice, should be secondary or tertiary in the grand scheme of healing, wellness, and well-being. The outer physical aspect should not be one’s primary focus but rather a side effect of one’s personal motivation to continue a path which brings them happiness and health. How we look and how we feel are indeed external motivators which are the catalyst for continuation of either personal training or yoga, yet, internal motivators such as feeling at ease, calm, relaxed, energized, uplifted, strong and so forth, are sustainable vehicles which drive any practice toward the destination of being a better version of oneself. And in the end, that is what it is all about – being better versions of ourselves.
Yoga is not focused on what one looks like or should look like or should strive to look like. I have promoted myself as someone who sought after the internal factors which help to elevate us and inspire us. In short, I want to inspire others. I want to share with others how awesome they are and how inspiring they are to others around them, simply for showing up to meet themselves exactly where they are. The effort to show up does not require a perfect body type, the perfect outﬁt, the perfect hair style, the perfect posture or weightlifting exercise. It does not require having ten thousand Instagram followers and likes on a post. It does not require having a special kind of yoga practice following a special kind of lineage, or a special kind of ketogenic diet regiment or strength training program. All that is required is just showing up.
Be kind to yourselves and let go of the idea that you must be shaped or look a certain way to feel good about yourself, because that is the lie we no longer need to subscribe to. Enjoy the journey of healing and well-being. Show up to meet yourself where you are and allow the rest to follow. Be consistent with what you choose because you will beneﬁt from the experience of change, which is an internal process to begin with. You will begin to notice all of the subtle shifts as a result of your determination to become a better version of yourself!