Last night, I was chatting with my husband about I don’t remember what. At some point, I said something about “getting in shape.” He looked at me and said,
“Really? Because that would imply there’s only one shape that’s acceptable. You know, a lot of people ‘get into shape’ but aren’t healthy.”
He’s absolutely right. And, while I know it and believe it, I still succumb to the seduction of what I call the #ShapeSavage. It wants us to believe that, once we force ourselves to look a certain way, our lives will be better. People will like us more. We’ll be happier. Our self worth will increase. The #ShapeSavage convinces us to starve ourselves, to over exercise, to live in a place of self doubt and longing. It convinces us to set up unreasonable expectations and shame ourselves when we can’t meet them. It convinces us to do everything except live in and embrace each moment.
I think there’s only one way to become free of the #ShapeSavage. We need to stop allowing it to feed off our energy and spirit. We can take away its power the way it has tried to take ours. Easier said than done? Maybe, if we approach it from a place of perfection. Instead, what if we practice, knowing that it’s OK if we don’t get it right every time.
My yoga practice is one of the tools I use for dealing with the #ShapeSavage. Spending time on my mat has taught me how to appreciate and accept my body the way it is. I’ve learned to breathe more deeply as a way to connect with my inside, not my jean size. And the magic of yoga is that the lessons we learn on our mats teaches us about how we respond to life off our mats. For example, when I’m in a challenging pose and I feel my belly on my thighs, my natural response is to think “My belly is fat. It’s in the way.” Or, I can say, “I need to modify this pose to make room for my body.” I can take a wider stance and bend my knees a bit more. There. Now I have room to honor both the pose and my body. Super empowering. The kind of empowerment that sends the #ShapeSavage running for cover.
When you find yourself battling with the #ShapeSavage, I encourage you to take a step back. Find something positive about your body. Seriously. Muster up just one thing and then focus on that. Write it down. Start a list of #BodyPositive thoughts. Refer to it when you need to.
The #ShapeSavage may always have a presence in our lives. That’s OK. You (we) are powerful. If you feel otherwise, close your eyes, take a deep breath and feel your strength. You are stronger, wiser and more perfect than you can ever imagine.