Your relationship to your body

Note: This message may be a trigger for those dealing with body dysmorphia or eating disorders; however, it focuses less on that and more about true self-love.


Hey there,

There was a time I was seriously disconnected from my body.

My obsession with my body as a thing outside of “me” didn’t really begin until my mid-20’s. At that time, I had been dealing with chronic stomach pain and overwhelming anxiety. Eventually, I’d get a diagnosis of severe gluten intolerance, but not before I dealt with all the stress through extreme physical exercise and an obsession with “eating clean” (a term I now loathe…but, we can talk about that in a later letter). I’ve shared this before, but both practices affected my fertility and even more than that, they altered my relationship with myself.

When I started to find a healing path, I promised to give myself more grace and to celebrate my body throughout all its stages of life and giving life. It’s been a long road to get here, and I cannot say I look in the mirror every day and don’t find something to critique. But, I can say, after having a baby I truly am more comfortable being in my body than I ever have been before (at least in my adult life…I’m pretty sure my toddler self was in awe of her body). But, it’s not just because of the “having a baby,” but because of the relationship I started to develop with my body over the years. What is your relationship like with your body?

Image from #takebackpostpartum via @nazzie_ox on Instagram

Image from #takebackpostpartum via @nazzie_ox on Instagram

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Yes, today is a day of romance and love [Happy Valentine’s Day!], but before you radiate that love outwards, can you focus on you? Consider:

What is your relationship to your body?
How do you talk to her?
How do you treat her?
Do you listen to her needs?
Do you know how?
Do believe it’s even important to listen?
What could you do TODAY to show love to your body?

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Before finally conceiving, I remember realizing that my way towards wellness was to start to believe and embody that joy did not come from my physical looks or even abilities. They are not associated. I could choose to feel joy and happiness, even if I didn’t go for a five mile run, even if my body didn’t look the way I “wanted” it to. I started to find joy in other ways - more yoga (no hot yoga), more long walks, more slowing down to prepare a nutritious meal, more notes on my mirror that said things like “I love and approve of myself” (I’m serious), and really listening to what my body wanted on any given day (rather than what I thought I should do or had to do). I found joy in how my body could feel…and she could feel amazing, which in turn could create feelings of joy.

I promised to take care of myself the same way during pregnancy - to appreciate a growing baby, to move in ways that felt good (more prenatal yoga) + LOTS of walks - and later postpartum - to take my time to heal, practice deep breathing to connect and slowly rehab my core & pelvic floor, get outside, and to try not to judge my belly.

But, I’ve found that it’s really hard to come to this realization when we are disconnected from our bodies. Your body, your mind, and your soul are delicately intertwined and each is trying to talk to you all the time. But, are you listening? I think that’s the first question towards building a relationship: How can you listen to your body more? Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes and ask that question. Note what comes up. And, based on the answer: How can you show your body you love her? Is it rest? More deep breathing and meditation? More warming soups? Getting outside? Patience?

Your body is a vessel meant to help you live out your work in this life (familial, professional, etc.), and we certainly want to treat it well. It is an undeniable part of you, but our bodies alone do not hold the key to contentment or love. So, maybe the next time you find yourself getting frustrated with her, you start to build the relationship: What does my body need in this moment? Am I listening? I can promise that with time this will be incredibly healing, and will help you establish more of a connection (and appreciation) with your Self [not a typo].

With love,
Leanne



P.S. This week I’ve been writing about listening to our bodies and also connecting with the deepest layer of ourselves (really our beings), too. You might also like reading this piece on your heart’s deepest desire.

P.P.S. Thank you to all who answered the Q’s from the last email! I will be responding to your tremendously helpful thoughts soon, and am excited for what’s to unfold next for Yoga Dear Mama.

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I share encouraging, informative, and down to earth messages, each with a healthy dose of humor and honesty. Basically, the kind of thing I'd want to read during pregnancy and later postpartum...because gosh motherhood is confusing. When you subscribe, you'll receive my messages on What I wish I would've known before baby & a quick guide on the Yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy.

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A new [but, actually very old] approach towards well-being

Hey there,

As I type, I’m elbows deep in books, papers, and notes, preparing for Yoga Teacher Training this upcoming weekend. I had another letter in mind for you, but I decided to hold on that and share this:

There is absolutely nothing WRONG with you. You are not broken. You don’t need to be fixed. You are already whole. Your ability to heal is within you. And, that’s what yoga + ayurveda aim to do. To support you on your journey back to your Self. Back to your wholeness, your whole being wellness.

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That’s not to say you may not need some help on the journey. And, here is where we can seek out the support of trusted care providers (acupuncturists, doctors, therapists, yoga teachers, chiropractors, herbalists, nutritionists, health coaches, yoga therapists, etc.) to help guide our way, to encourage it. Emphasis on guide.

There’s another path of study I thought you might be interested in, and that is Ayurveda. Ayurveda is something we’ve been studying in teacher training as well as a layer of yoga therapy that I’m practicing. It’s known as the “sister science” of yoga (because yoga is actually a science…but you knew that, right? Insert wink).

“Ayur" means life. "Veda" means knowledge. The practice was recorded 5000 years ago, and is one of the world’s original forms of medicine. What I love about it is that it's particularly tailored to YOUR needs. You won't find a one size fits all diet, exercise regime, or meditation practice. You won't find a "demonizing" of wheat or dairy or fruit or legumes or meat. You won't find workouts that preach high intensity or low impact or cardio. Nope.

Ayurveda takes into consideration your unique make-up, your unique way of moving throughout nature (and how it moves in you) to figure out what foods, movement, and other practices would serve you and your body best. Isn’t that beautiful? To know that you don’t have to eat or move the way “everyone else” is moving/eating in order to find wellness? Ayurveda is such a specialized and personal journey that for me and I know many, many others has been profoundly healing, especially coupled with a yoga practice. I find it hard to separate the two now.

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Are you intrigued yet? I hope so, and I’m happy to write more about ayurveda and using it as a tool in your wellness journey. But, the point I’m trying to make here is this: Eat what’s right for YOU. Move how your body is asking YOU to move. Listen to what’s happening within your mind. Use your yoga practice as a way to check-in with your needs at any given moment (maybe a stronger practice today and a gentle one tomorrow). Let it be a reminder of your wholeness, your amazing-ness, your ability to heal. And, know that there is a science of health that goes hand in hand with yoga to start to explore if it speaks to you.

As we embark on a month that’s wrapped around the concept of love, please remember to love on YOU today. Remember that you are unique. You are beautiful. You are not broken. You are already imperfectly & perfectly whole. Try not to let anyone [or thing] make you feel otherwise.

With love,
Leanne

P.S. If you’re intrigued by Ayurveda, check out this article here. And, if you’re a bookworm like me, consider picking up a copy of Eat, Taste, Heal (a favorite of mine!) or Eat, Feel, Fresh (a recommendation from a Yoga Dear student). Please know, at the moment I receive zero $$ for sharing posts and books with you. This is 100% based on my own study that I want to pass on.

P.P.S. Really, how are you?? How is your yoga practice? What are you working on/with? How is your body feeling? What do you think about Ayurveda? If you have three minutes, send me a quick message. I love reading them and learning about how yoga is supporting you in your life.