I'm a petite little lady.
A few inches over 5 feet tall and a wee bit over a 100 lbs.
I'm small but I'm also strong.
Everyday, I have the privilege to teach yoga, meditation and mindfulness at a beautiful resort in Tucson, Arizona and it is AWESOME.
I love to move and I love to connect with people.
It's an amazing life but it also comes with its own unique expectations and challenges.
My responsibility is to care for myself and for my students.
I share my struggles with emotional instability, self doubt and just my general nature of being human.
I make a point to let my students know that despite a regular meditation and yoga practice, I get frustrated, I lose my composure, I act a fool and often let little things bother me way more than I'd like them to...because I do not want to create an expectation that doing all these practices means that life isn't still a challenge.
Sharing the difficulties that I face as a mother, a lover, a daughter, a sister, a mentor, a friend and just someone who tries to leave the house without being covered in dog hair or kid goop is not hard for me.
I share that stuff with ease and I am constantly told how helpful it is that I don't make these practices seem elusive or a cure-all.
I'm honest, sometimes embarrassingly, so.
However, as easy as it is to be honest about my periodic meltdowns and tantrums, I've started to think about what I project physically.
Basically, I workout for a living and part of my yoga practice is to be aware of what I consume and despite my daily dose of chocolate, randomn soda, an evening beer and my periodic relapses with a pickle addiction...
I'm pretty healthy and fit.
I excercise almost everyday but even with that...I've got a jiggly bum, puckered thighs and breasts that certainly show the history of breast feeding a boy with an insatiable appetite for 3 years.
Of course, when I get in front of a class no one can see that.
If you haven't noticed, all those tight black yoga pants squeeze all those 'imperfections' in pretty darn well.
I've been told I have 'a yoga body' and have had women look at themselves with shame as they tell me that they can't do yoga because they don't look like me OR they ask what can they do to look the way they think they should which is thin, lean and forever 25.
So...the past few weeks, as Bathing suit season has made its arrival in the Desert Southwest, I've been thinking about how much I still actually hide from my students.
It's taken many years and a lot of therapy for me to appreciate my body and lessen my habit of searching for issues or reasons to dislike my body.
I am lucky to have a gorgeous gym and lap pool to use when I'm at work and when I have time to workout or go for a swim, I am aware that the eyes of the women who take my classes are looking at me.
I know it happens because it's what we do as women, we look, we compare, we judge... so I've always worn a towel around the locker room so they don't see my cellulite.
I'm strategic when I undress and I wrap a towel around me as I walk to the pool, covered up as I look for the closest lounge chair to the pool's edge so I can lessen the chance that anyone will glimpse all the imperfections of my 'yoga body'.
Earlier this week, several teenage girls were at the pool with their mothers and I felt my usual inhibitions take hold but then I realized what a hypocrite I was being.
I can reveal my stories of depression, my moments of screaming at my child or freaking out because someone cut in line in front of me at the market but the thought of these women seeing my untoned butt puts me in a panic!
What kind of message does that send?
So...I said 'screw it' took off my towel, took the long way around the pool and walked right in front of them and then hopped in the pool to do my laps.
They saw me and hopefully they recognized that a healthy body, a 'yoga body' is a strong body with dimples, sags and some stretch marks.
A 'yoga body' moves with ease and steadiness.
It doesn't starve or suck in its gut all the time.
It can be flabby, round, skinny, wrinkled, smooth...it can bend, be flexible, be tight, be achey...
What it looks like is not the point, actually.
Go ahead...read The Yoga Sutras...
I'm positive there is no mention of a need to look good in a bikini while posing in Nataraja (dancer pose) on the beach.
Not one word, I promise.
Looking good in a pair of tight pants or skinny jeans is not what it means to be a good yogini or a good person, for that matter.
Yesterday...I walked around naked as could be in the locker room in front of a several middle aged women, just being me, being unattached to what they may think of me but only hoping that they might judge themselves less and love themselves more.
It's fine...besides if we could channel the energy saved from self loathing and put it into solving the problems of the world, I think we could see real change.
We would see how beautiful and fragile things are and how important it is to take care of ourselves and others.
There is suffering to be ended and hearts that need mending.