Thursday, 28 May 2015

Transformation

Handstand yoga practice
This is a daily occurrence. I have estimated that I have fallen approx. 9,532 times so far. And it doesn't look like it will be stopping any time soon.

Guys, this journey. Oh, how I love it. I have been firmly back into yoga since March, and it is slowly transforming me, bit by bit. First, there is of course the physical aspect. I can feel myself getting stronger, slowly but surely.

No weight loss, in case you were wondering; in fact, I'm heavier now than I was before. I'd like to think it's all the extra muscle, but I know the truth: it's eating all.the.food. I have definitely increased my calories intake, because I'm way hungrier than before! And you know what? It's okay. I feel great, loving my body for all it does for me, and as long as my clothes still fit I won't worry about the number. Take that, former weight-obsessed past Miriam. Who would have thought that one day I would get to that point? Not me, that's for sure.


Teenage-me and twenties-me was as worried about weight and obsessed about being just 5 or 10 pounds lighter than the next insecure girl. I was convinced that my life would be magically transformed and infinitely better if I would weigh 125 pounds. That was my magic number. The number I desperately wanted to be at. I got super-close (126), and as you can guess, life was a million times better: the sun shone brighter, being skinny felt better than food tasted, all the guys wanted to be with me, the girls wanted to be me...

... hehe, I'm kidding of course. Nothing was the slightest bit different.

So I stopped worrying about it. I started listening to my body, to eat when I am hungry, and to have no "forbidden" foods. It was a life changer. The freedom! Not being consumed with body issues and a stupid number is the best feeling ever! I have had this mindset for about 5 years now (I think), and I will never go back to the "diet"-mindset. It was like being in prison. You limit yourself so much, with silly rules about how many calories you allow yourself to eat, with crushing guilt being a constant companion and thoughts about food dominating every waking minute. This is no exaggeration: It was the first thing I thought about when waking up in the morning, and the last thought before falling asleep.


Anyway. I never planned to make this post about former body issues, so let's move on.
Where was I?

Oh yes, the transformative power of yoga. After the physical aspect there is the mental one, which is where the change is way more profound. I have been pretty emotional lately, more than usual (and I am an emotional person to begin with). After some reflection I came up with two possible reasons:
1) My happy pills stopped working.
2) All the "opening-your-heart"-stuff of the yoga practice is to blame.

The open heart wins by a landslide, because I have faith in pharmaceuticals.

What drew me initially to yoga was all the cool poses. I mean, how awesome is that:
Kino MacGregor
Kino MacGregor

But what has made me truly fall in love with it is the promise of transformation. And it has begun. You see, every time you get on the mat you face many emotions:
Doubt: Will I really be able to do this one day?
Fear: What if I fall?
Impatience: How long is this gonna take? I want it, and I want it NOW.
Defeat: I will never be able to do this.
Euphoria: I did it!
Joy: I love nature, the birds chirping, dogs licking, all the nice people, the entire world!
Pain: Outch, this hurts.

In order to be able to deal with all those emotions, you have to learn to surrender. This is not an easy lesson: We try to keep the upper hand, we don't want to lose control. But the whole practice is about opening yourself up, letting go of tension, to be humble and vulnerable.

I grew up in a family where you don't share your feelings. You don't tell others how you really feel, you show the world your "outside face", which means you always have to appear strong. Showing emotion is a sign of weakness. Emotional matters are to be kept private, they are nobody else's business.

I had a very difficult time with this mindset, because I'm wired differently. To me, showing vulnerability and weakness is not actually a sign of weakness, but the opposite: It shows that you are human. Opening up and showing who you really are is a sign of honesty and shows great courage. Subconsciously I have always wanted to do that, because it felt right to me. It is the only way how I want to live: No pretense, smoke and mirrors, but being honest and real.

Yoga teaches you that. As your body's flexibility and openness grows, so does your mind's.
This journey is a great adventure, and one I'm so excited to be on.

To finish, another quote from "my" teacher Kino:

"Sometimes you have to take a bold step in a new direction. When you do not everyone will understand or support you. That's when you know the adventure of life is about to begin."






P.S. Initially this post was titled Handstand update, which is why I included the videos of my handstand practice. It turned into something different, which is the best part about writing - you never know where the journey will lead you. Just like yoga! And life! Oh, I can barely stand all the metaphors here. :-)



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12 comments

  1. This is absolutely brilliant - glad you are getting something good from Yoga even if it opening your heart to the emotions and making things a little different (in a good way). I keep trying and failing at yoga I think I probably need to try and find a class somewhere but it sucks being the newbie that sucks at stuff!
    I hope you continue to get good things from it and I'm looking forward to your progression - You've inspired me to go and search out a class near me and give it a go again!
    x

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  2. Love watching all the handstand attempts! And love the bigger meaning as well! Keep up the great work, you are a constant motivator!
    -Linds

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  3. Miriam!! What a great post! Seriously this is just what I needed <3 I have never done a post on mine before but let me tell you, the body issues were (still are) SO real and you're 100% right - just like being in prison. I still have days when the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I think about at night is food/what I eat/what I'm going to eat. Going vegan was a great step for me and though it is a bit restrictive, I never feel the intense guilt that I felt at one point in my life whenever I would eat too much...idk maybe this summer I'll get into yoga and start to feel the feels :) You are such an inspirational person and I am so glad to have opened my facebook page to see this post tonight. Thanks farmgirl!! <3
    ~ Samantha

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  4. I love this post! What a wonderful wonderful outlook you have and your thoughts are just beautiful. I too have found much inner calm and strength from doing yoga and I love the way my body is getting stronger through it. You look amazing in your poses - love it!

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  5. You are doing so, so well!! I can totally see a difference in your poses as time passes. Not just the degree of difficulty and how you're rocking it, but also there is a confidence that just radiates from your yoga pictures. Keep up the great, great work!

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  6. I love yoga. I need to get back into it. I'm really impressed with what you've been able to do. It really IS such an amazing transformation, isn't it?

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  7. Oh, that's great! I hope you will find a yoga style you fall in love with. I have tried many different styles myself: Bikram, infrared hot yoga classes, bootcamp-style classes, meditation-classes. None of them were a good fit for me, and I always ended up abandoning them sooner or later. What works for me is doing YouTube videos, most of them from Kino MacGregor (search for "Kino Yoga"), and Instagram challenges. I practice by myself 99% of the time, which I love. The only downside is that there is nobody around to tell me if I'm doing the poses wrong; so I usually film parts of my practice/take pictures, and then compare it with "my" online teachers.


    Yoga is not at all about doing the poses as perfectly as possible, far from it! There is no competitive aspect to the practice. It's all about your own progress, and doing something for yourself that feels good. Don't ever feel self-conscious about being a newbie! Everybody starts out as one, and you only get more advanced by doing it regularly. It has nothing to do with being better than the next person.


    Good luck!! And thanks for stopping by :-)

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  8. Thanks Linds! I was thinking of you the other day when I did one of Kino's headstand videos. You know how bendy and strong she is, right? Well, in the video she says she had no flexibility or strength at all when she started out. When she started to practice headstand, she fell over every day for 10 months!
    Persistence is the secret, nothing else. With my handstand I fall over every single day as well, and have many bruises to show for it. :-) Just keep on keeping on!
    Here is the video: https://youtu.be/DgdoHGBJANw

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  9. Welcome back to the blogging world Sam! I'm so happy to see your smiling face. :-)
    Finding confidence in your own body is SO hard in our world of photoshopped perfection. I'm sure most women deal with it, which is really tragic: We are all so much more than just our bodies. But there is a massive mountain of conflicting information out there about eating right, being healthy, and losing weight, and it's very difficult to navigate one's own way through it. I think you being vegan gives you a huge advantage, because you know a lot more about nutrition than most! I hope you will fall in love with your own body, and be proud of its strength and beauty!

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  10. Thank you so much Rachael! Isn't it the best feeling in the world? I'm still giddy every time I can do something that was impossible the week before. Our bodies are capable of so much more than we we think they can do. Thanks fellow yogi!

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  11. Thanks Amy! I will, I'm hooked!
    Discovering that your own body can accomplish things you never thought possible makes you wonder what else it is capable of doing that you don't know yet... I can't wait to find out. :-)

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  12. Yes, totally! It's the best body, mind and soul exercise I have ever experienced, and I have the sneaking suspicion that it has the potential to influence/change one's entire life. I love it.
    I hope you will find your way back to yoga, good luck!!

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