[VIDEO] Journey to Body Image Acceptance

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Over time, I have learned that what I tell myself on my mat is what I need to say to myself off the mat. Sometimes all it takes is a simple back of the throat breath to turn a moment around. Other times I need to stop and rewrite the story that I’ve conjured up/ You know the one: “ I am not good enough, I am not worthy enough, I can’t do this.”

~ Amanda Morgante

I more or less stumbled into the practice of yoga. I had heard of it, but I’d never done it. I never really ever thought about what it would be like to be a “Yogi.”  Come to think of it, I may have never even heard of a “Yogi.” Things like, “I’m not athletic or I am SO not flexible,” were things that I let hold me back. But two of my closest friends were avid in their yoga practices and, after some convincing, I dragged myself to a foundation flow class, at Mind Body Flow Yoga.

I remember being so nervous and I could not help but look around. I was so interested in what everyone else was doing, how much they knew, how strong they were, and why was it so hot in there!? After a few foundation flow classes I gave my first open flow class a shot. Unlike most, this was the first time yoga made me cry (and not in a good way). I cried the whole ride home. I felt so out of shape and I was so embarrassed that I wasn’t physically fit enough to keep up. How discouraging that I couldn’t get my foot to land far forward enough in my Crescent Lunge. After that I remember it being suggested by a friend, “Well, maybe this just isn’t the type of yoga for you; maybe you need something a little slower and not so demanding.” When my pity party was over and I stopped talking down to myself, I decided I was determined to make this style of yoga my style. Was saying I needed something slower just what you say to the out of shape chubby friend? I wanted to make this my practice and my routine. I wanted to be “good at it.”

As most girls do, I’ve always struggled with my body image and my weight. Since I was a little girl I remember being self conscious about the way my clothes fit or that I was bigger than other kids. My own Grandma use to ask me, “Are you really going to eat that?” or say, “You better take a walk after your dinner.” So, for me when someone half my size had me thinking I couldn’t do something she could do, of course I was discouraged. Not to mention, it’s yoga, so you get sweaty in tight leggings! Lucky for me; something about the environment at Mind Body Flow Yoga kept me intrigued and I kept coming back. It was things in class like when I would be pouring sweat and trembling on my mat and Marina would say: “That’s the way Amanda!” Like, YEAH! Look at me knowing the way! When I would attend a class and was told not to listen to my brain and to see what my body could do, not make up stories about what things would be like, just let go of expectations and try. The more I attended class and let go of the stories in my mind, the easier it became. I felt my body and my mind becoming stronger. The better I was at controlling my breath, pausing my thoughts and just letting myself flow, the easier it seemed for my muscles to do the work.

.......... Article Continues Below. ..........

LIVE Music Vinyasa

Saturday, September 28th

8:00 AM – 9:15 AM

Vocalist and Pianist, Steve Stempien, will be accompanying our practice, on the morning of Saturday, September 28th, from 8:00 AM – 9:15 AM.

Come awaken your mind and spirit with this LIVE music treat.

A donation of $5 – $10 is suggested, for the musician’s time and contribution to our practice.

I don’t exactly remember when it happened, but I know somewhere along the way I fell so in love with this practice. The more classes I attended the more I felt as though I could keep up. I made sure to balance my time between foundation flow classes and open flow classes, so that I would make sure I knew how to do the poses once I increased my speed. Then, somewhere during this journey is when it happened – I found out that this whole yoga thing was not just a workout for my body but it was also such a workout for my mind. The thoughts of me not being able to perfect a pose because I was “fat” or “not good enough” faded away. I dropped those thoughts that were just a story and I was able to just be. I was so grateful for what MY amazing body was allowing me to do. I had a heart healthy enough to pump crazy fast while I pushed myself through class. I discovered that I had legs that were strong enough to hold me up even though I was shaking and exhausted on my mat. My body was so much more than the love handles, belly chub, jiggly arms and cellulite that I had spent so long focusing on and criticizing. My body was so incredible.

The shift in my thinking was no accident. Class after class after class, I would show up and every time would be different but every time would be oh so good. Reflecting now I can easily say, I’ve never had a bad class. Once I dropped the story and really understood that it’s “Yoga practice not yoga perfect,” I realized I was doing just that – building my practice. A wonderful practice for my body and a beautiful practice for my mind.

Over time, I have learned that what I tell myself on my mat is what I need to say to myself off the mat. Sometimes all it takes is a simple back of the throat breath to turn a moment around. Other times I need to stop and rewrite the story that I’ve conjured up/ You know the one: “ I am not good enough, I am not worthy enough, I can’t do this.”

The new outlook, thoughts, strength, appreciation for my body and new found love for myself has all come from building and maintaining a yoga practice. Some might think it’s silly, but yoga and Mind Body Flow Yoga have truly changed my life. I am so grateful to have this outlet and this release, but together with the community attending the studio is such a blessing. The atmosphere at MBFY is enough to make you want to get on your mat after a bad day. Walking through the door and being greeted by a teacher who is genuinely excited to have you attend their class is such a simple joy.

I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t have days where I struggle with my body image. But more days than ever before, I love my body just the way it is. I think coming to MBFY just serves as a reminder that my body really is so wonderfully made. Our bodies have so much more to offer than what society deems as important. I have never loved to workout or to push myself like I do when I am on my yoga mat. I think that the physical shift in my muscle tone and the literal shift in my gain of strength, have definitely aided me in loving my body how it is. And without finding yoga and discovering an intense exercise that I love, I don’t think this would have ever happened. I am so grateful for MBFY and the amazing, life-changing experience that I continue to benefit from there.

What is this Pose About?

*If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.

This is a standing grounding pose.  Watch Amanda enter into this asana from Mountain Pose (Tadasana).  She will exit the pose and land back in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) as well.

Tips for Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

Here are a few things to keep in mind, if you decide to try this pose, or if you have already started to experiment and play around with it.

  • Inhale and raise your arms perpendicular to the floor. Either keep the arms parallel, palms facing inward, or join the palms
  • Exhale and bend your knees, trying to take the thighs as nearly parallel to the floor as possible. The knees will move out over the feet, and the torso will lean slightly forward over the thighs until the front torso forms approximately a right angle with the tops of the thighs. Keep the inner thighs parallel to each other and press the heads of the thigh bones down toward the heels
  • Firm your shoulder blades against the back. Take your tailbone down toward the floor and in toward your pubis to keep the lower back long
  • Stay for 30 seconds to a minute. To come out of this pose straighten your knees with an inhalation, lifting strongly through the arms. Exhale and release your arms to your sides into Tadasana
  • Repeat

Benefits

  • Strengthens the thighs, ankles, calves, and spine
  • Stretches shoulders and chest
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs, diaphragm, and heart
  • Reduces flat feet

Caution

  • Seek advice or supervision with this pose if you have headache, insomnia, or low blood pressure

Enlist the help of an experienced instructor with Chair Pose if this is your first time trying it.

Have you tried this pose before? What has been your experience?

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