My yoga journey thus far has been incredibly transformational. As a student of yoga, I’ve realized a few things: I know nothing. I own nothing. I need nothing. Perhaps that sounds like gibberish, but for me, it’s been mind-blowing. My time on my mat has not only shaped my ass, it’s altered my views and helped me dump some really shitty habits/thought patterns that were making me miserable. Here are some surprising ways yoga has changed my life…
3 Surprising Ways Yoga Has Changed My Life
- Yoga Helped Me Befriend My Body
In my teen years I learned, as many young girls do, to hate my body and to treat it badly. I discovered that skipping meals made my stomach a little flatter, a stick of gum kept me from grazing, and diet soda was an adequate meal replacement. Soon I was sporting a size zero, counting calories (500 per day seemed sufficient) and exercising aggressively. With full-blown anorexia, my hair was thinning, my body was shivering, and my bones were as visible as wire hangers in a bare closet. But starvation was empowering, and I would forfeit any meal to feel a sense of control in my otherwise chaotic world. I found yoga years later, after counseling and diet changes helped me develop better habits. Still, I hadn’t learned to respect or honor my body, and I occasionally used food as a drug and starvation as a control mechanism. Yoga helped me befriend my body. I stopped self-loathing and started eating sensibly, without shame or guilt. In time I was able to ditch destructive diets and compulsive calorie counting. More on that here.
2. Yoga Helped Me Stop ‘People Pleasing’
Pre-yoga, I wanted you to love me, to accept and understand me. Post yoga, I want you to love me, to accept and understand me. So what’s changed? Let’s just say I want it less, and because I no longer need approval, I have no problem saying no when you ask for more time, money, space (fill in the blank) than I am comfortable giving. Confidence is a game-changer, and knowing that your issues are yours alone, helps me to take things less personally and stop assuming problems that aren’t mine. The old me would lose sleep if you snubbed me. The more yogic me says, “C’est la vie,” (that’s life).
3. Yoga Opened My Heart & Expanded My Views
My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness ~Dalai Lama
For many years, I had a religion. I followed a rule book. It fueled my lifestyle and fed a part of my inquisitive humanity. My religion was another tool I used to gain control. On a good day, it helped me understand the world, connect with something meaningful, and put certain “life pieces” into my tidy philosophical puzzle. But my limited beliefs also suffocated my thinking, erected barriers, and kept extraordinary people from affecting my life because I immediately dismissed them and prevented them from teaching me things I am better off knowing. Before yoga, I was drawn to the all-knowing aspects of religion — the answers it provided. I felt safe within its code of conduct and all its confines. But I have let those walls crumble. I’ve become more open to new ideas, and I feel free knowing I am far too small to understand the intricate workings of the universe. I sit in awe, watching the world whirl around me in its wild and whimsical way. I no longer occupy a pew on Sunday mornings, but that’s not to say I am anti anything. In fact, I feel more spiritual now, more connected to the divine than ever before, and more open to love and miracles. I do not want to convert people, as my religion said I should. I don’t care to indoctrinate you. I simply want to know you and accept you as you are.
I came to yoga for fitness, as a means to become more balanced and flexible. I never imagined the ways it would change me. I couldn’t comprehend the art of asana, how sitting in stillness and bending with the flow of my breath would begin to break old patterns and limited beliefs about myself and my body. I now know what it means to reach with my fingertips towards a sky that’s unsearchable — to be bold and big enough, yet small and meek enough to grasp life’s amazing offerings. This incredible journey has just begun and I’m thrilled at the prospect of watching the old me continue to melt away on my mat.
How has yoga changed your life?