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Body issues

I was shocked when I saw the recent issue of Yoga Journal. Yep, I’m talking about that once a great magazine that was writing interesting, to the point articles about the yogic philosophy. The key word is “once”. As a woman in her thirties, as a person who is a part of society watching movies, reading magazines and walking on the street I’ve been bombarded with the images of ideal body type, of beauty by various sources on different levels for all my life. Yet I was utterly shocked when Yoga Journal kindly categorized the bodies of every woman who doesn’t look like their cover models. Like that wasn’t enough YJ even gave style solutions for these hourglass, rectangle, apple, pear and wedge shaped bodies so that they would look better in the yoga classes. I guess reading it in a so-called yoga magazine was the last drop for me, the urge to write about it was so strong that I couldn’t fight it anymore.

When I was 14 my parents sent me to England for summer school. I had so much fun there and learnt a lot including how to kiss a boyJ Maybe it was being away home and a false sense of freedom I don’t know why but so many visits after Mcdonalds I put on 6 kg in one month. I am 1.59 and maybe I was even shorter back then and 6 kgs make a difference. I didn’t mind at all, I was thinking that I was still beautiful. One day after school I hopped on the bus on my way home with all my extra weight that came all the way from England with me. This middle-aged teacher whom I’d known since I was 5 as she was a neighbor, was terrified when she saw me. Even before saying hello she uttered her magical words “OMG you put on so much weight. You have to lose them quickly otherwise they’ll stick with you forever. Go on a diet, I’ll be watching you.” Here I am, 15, grilled by a woman due to my weight, and now everybody on the bus is checking my body thanks to her. It feels like there’s a stone on my chest. If I could travel back in time and revive that moment I would’ve smacked her. No, of course I wouldn’t. As a yogini trying to walk the yogic path, ahimsa- non-violence is important for me. Instead I would say, “Seriously, Is this the best thing that you can say to a 15 year old? Is this the piece of wisdom that you should share with youth? Shame on you lady!”

So after that day I was on a diet for the first time in my life. That became a part of my life for years. I put on weight, lost weight, put on some more. Basically I struggled with weight for almost most of my life. I was never comfortable in my skin, always found flaws in my body. No matter how thin I was I wasn’t beautiful enough. Then yoga came along and started transforming me, helping me to accept myself. Then I got pregnant. How come every new person whom you meet can ask you how much weight you put on? Is it too much, hmm it will be if you continue like this! The worst thing you can do to a pregnant woman is transferring your poor body image to her, making her worry about her body while her body is creating life. I started beating myself up about it again until I had this pain in my right leg. It was right after our trip to South Africa and naturally they checked for deep vein thrombosis. The Doppler result was clear; the possibility of DVT was eliminated. I went to chiropractors; orthopedists and they all had a different idea about what was wrong with me. One night I woke up to go to the toilet (hail to my small bladder under pressure) and realized that I couldn’t walk anymore. I started crying and telling hubby that it had to have something to do with veins cause I was feeling like my leg was rotting inside. Next morning an urgent visit to a hematology department solved it all. It was DVT after all and during those 4 weeks of non-treatment the artery was blocked from groin to ankle. I started crying mostly due to the relief and asked the doctor “is the baby ok?” He looked at me puzzled and answered; “yes the baby is ok but you could’ve died.” Yes, I could’ve died but didn’t. Instead I delivered my baby beautifully with no complications thanks to my body.

Ever since I’m in love with my body, which bestowed me a fantastic pregnancy. I appreciate it more and more every day. It created a life, nurtured it for 9 months and delivered it healthily but also fought with an ailment and conquered it. I recovered smoothly and gained my strength back slowly after labor. At the end I didn’t really put on much weight but used my time losing them after pregnancy mostly due to my lack of willingness to go on a diet. I didn’t care at all. I was grateful for my gifts. Now I think that I’m more beautiful than ever. It’s not like I’m going to make it to GQ magazine cover but I am beautiful and I won’t let anyone make me believe otherwise.

I have a daughter and I don’t want her to live her life by the dictated terms of society. I want her to realize that there’s more in life than that. Beauty is more than fitting in 34 size jeans. The best way of doing that; is to love and accept my own body with its own limitations. I don’t want to reflect her a poor body image. Don’t get me wrong I want her to look after her body but for health issues not size issues. I want her to eat healthily but that’s it.

Your body is listening to you. How do you expect it to react if you are not happy with it? Love your body, treat it like it’s your temple and do your best to keep it healthy and clean. After all it’s through your body that you get to have this earthly experience. Nurture it with love and see what unfolds for you. Next time you look into a mirror try to see how beautiful you are. We are all different and unique. How there can be a single beauty standard when there are billions of different bodies walking on earth? Be grateful for every single breath. Thank to your body for getting you through everything in your life. Have long walks by the lake, indulge yourself with a massage, do sports, do yoga, do whatever makes you feel comfortable in your skin. Accept yourself, love yourself, and embrace your inner light. That’s where beauty lies.

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