The last time I wrote a Fave Reads Friday post was in August 2018…..it’s been awhile. And now I just finished reading a book (another one about happiness, but oddly not Gretchen Rubin). This time the book was called May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga and Changing My Mind by Cyndi Lee who also wrote Yoga Body, Buddha Mind (something else I think I might want to read).
In the book there is a story of Buddha. The story talks of Buddha’s ascetic practices and how he eventually learns that
…torturing the body wasn’t the way to relieve suffering, after all. (p.63)
Throughout the book Lee talks about her own battle with acceptance of her body….not just as it ages, but accepting that it’s hers throughout her life. I too have struggled with body image issues and also with the dynamic of holding myself to one expectation and others to a totally different one. See, as a fitness professional, yoga instructor, etc there is sometimes this stigma that comes with eating cake. My oldest son just turned 8yo this last week and I realized that during his parties I almost never touch food, but encourage others to eat up and enjoy. I don’t think it’s a conscious decision as I’m usually running around trying to be the hostess with the mostess. But, while I’m not judging others and what they’re eating or drinking at the bowling alley, I need to remember not to judge myself either.
I was reading this book on my trip to Wisconsin a few weeks ago and one of my favorite statements is when Lee writes about deciding not to dye her hair, but to let it naturally go gray. She writes:
I’m no longer strengthening the imprints that tell me I’m wrong or need improvement – (p. 72)
And the Buddha story plus her own reflections made me ponder two of my own questions:
Why do I yoga?
Why do I exercise?
WHY I YOGA
I practice yoga on two paths. The first is the physical path which has helped me deal with many physical ailments caused by my body’s design. I have congenital hip dysplasia, scoliosis, rounded shoulders, a leg length discrepancy, loose ankles, etc, etc, etc. But through yoga’s physical practice I have come to appreciate my body’s abilities. I have found ways to heal and to look at myself in new lights. I’m not going to lie….sometimes I have used my yoga to “show off”, but for the most part I tout the benefits of how the physical posturing and breathwork make me FEEL!
I practice yoga as a spiritual outlet as well. The countless yoga books I’ve read, classes I’ve taught, reflections/meditations I’ve performed have taught me about myself and given me strength. I was in therapy off and on between the fall of 2017 and the summer of 2018. My therapist(s) told me that I was strong and centered and knew who I was. Maybe I was in a place where I needed to hear that someone else saw that as well, but I know in my heart that I am all of those things and more because of my yoga practice.
WHY I EXERCISE
There was a time in my life where exercise was about punishing the body in vain attempts to stay thin and young. Now I teach that exercise is about functionality. I have given up on the idea of being something that I am not….let go of the imprisoning way of thinking that would bind me to a lifetime of strict eating and exercising and obsessing over the flaws in my body. I exercise because it feels good and keeps me going mentally and physically. I want to be independent in my 40’s (almost here), 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and beyond if I make it that far. I no longer seek to cheat aging and instead seek to enjoy each progressive year through movement.
This coming Tuesday I am revamping an old post series on the blog called Training Plan Tuesday. I plan to share what my workouts will look like for the coming month and how they’ve gone for the past month. I want to look at my yoga and my exercise as ways to find energy and growth in myself as opposed to so many people’s view of it as work/pain/suffering/struggling.
I no longer need to ask: May I be happy? Because I know I already am.
Please share what you’re reading or thoughts on happiness, exercise, or whatever else is on your mind here.
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