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

***

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?

***

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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Connect to the deepest layer

Hey there,

A few weeks ago, I was in New Haven resting in savasana after a long day of yoga therapy study. We started the day at 6:30 a.m. with a yoga practice, followed by breakfast, followed by the morning lesson, lunch, and the afternoon lesson, wrapping up around 6:00 p.m. See? It’s a very long [but, amazing!] day.

So, naturally, all of us students were delighted to wrap up with a Yoga Nidra practice. Do you know the meditation practice of Yoga Nidra? Also known as “yogic sleep?” It’s deeply relaxing. Typically, you will set an intention — called a “sankalpa”— at the beginning of your practice before being led through a guided meditation for 25 - 60 minutes, all while laying down. It’s said that 45 minutes of Yoga Nidra is equal to 2-4 hours of sleep. Incredible, right? This is how I got through the first year with a new baby!

Photo by  Chang Duong  on  Unsplash

Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash

Our teacher settled us into the practice, and started to lead us into our sankalpa, asking:

What is the deepest desire of your heart?


At that point of the practice, I recall my own heart whispering the response. While I’ll keep this to myself for now, I found the practice deeply moving and for weeks I’ve explored the simple phrase that gently wrapped me with warmth, an inner knowing.

On the eve of a day filled with LOVE, it’s the love of the Self that I want you to pay attention to right now. We show ourselves love when we listen to our innermost needs and desires. It’s a way to connect with the deepest layer of our being, known as our “bliss body” in yoga.

I shared a similar meditation with the yoga teacher trainees this weekend, layering in some words from Joseph Campbell who writes,

“…if you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people, who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

It is MUCH easier to listen to the logical side of our brain, to the voices that surround us, to the imagery that pervades every line of sight from phones to TV’s to billboards. But, what if you turned inwards? What if you sat for a few moments today or tomorrow with a pen and allowed yourself to ask: What is the deepest desire of my heart? and to write and TRUST the answer. Isn’t that a kind of self-love? Your heart’s needs [I believe] lead you to bliss. Bliss is a part of who we already are.

You may choose to keep your answers to yourself for now, hold them close, examine them. If you want to share with someone, please write to me! I love to hear from you. And, that’s why I am here…to help you intentionally connect the dots that transform the way you live in your body, and ultimately your life.

With love [+ chocolate covered Valentine’s Day wishes!],
Leanne

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We often come to yoga for more than the movement. We're searching. For relief from anxiety. For purpose. For connection. When you join Yoga Dear, you'll receive weekly down-to-earth and practical guidance on how to incorporate yoga into every day. Learn how yoga can transform the way you live in your body, and ultimately your life.

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