How yoga and meditation changed the way I think about my body
Getting in tune with your body is an ever-evolving process; for me, it’s constantly ebbing and flowing. Sometimes I feel at peace with and connected to what my body wants and needs, while other times I can’t even begin to understand the way it works. It often feels like my body is a separate entity—like my head is the only part that I’m actually in control of!
But on my best days, which used to seem few and far between, I’m a force to be reckoned with. I’ve tried many different things to increase my security and comfort with my body. I’ve done photoshoots, played sports, gotten into weightlifting and even tried altering my diet in order to get to that more confident place. But nothing ever seemed to stick or leave lasting results...until I started practicing yoga and meditating.
The thing that I love most about yoga is its emphasis on breath. Everything in life revolves around breath flow and patterns, and in yoga, instructors are constantly giving reminders about breathing through poses. When I first got involved in yoga and started focusing more on my breath, I noticed that a lot of things come more easily that way. All physical and mental activities require breath support and awareness, that’s how stamina works.
So I started applying this mentality to other activities. In middle school, when we had to run a mile every day in gym class, I felt like I was being tortured. Sure, I was at a pretty average level of athleticism and could do a fair amount of physical activities successfully, but running was not one of them. I lost control quickly, got shaky knees and didn’t have the support to sustain me all the way through the run. What a nightmare. But after learning more about this phenomenon we call “breath,” I realized that I had been doing it all wrong; I wasn’t controlling or noticing my breath.
This realization turned my world upside down. Although I’m still not crazy about running or working out, I’ve found a way to comfortably power through it. Now I eat this breath stuff up. When I meditate, I spend several minutes acknowledging and observing my senses. Not only does this relieve the stress that tends to build up in all of my most tense body parts, but it gives me an opportunity to reset and revamp my physical life. In a way, it’s like starting over in a neutral, comfortable place. It’s a place where I can dive into anything wholeheartedly, and not worry about running out of energy or stamina. That’s a pretty amazing feeling.
Now, on days when I need revamping, I reserve time for yoga and meditation. The two work best when practiced back-to-back. This way, there’s time for both stillness and movement. Even in the stillness, though, I now notice that my breath is always moving.
Do you meditate or do yoga? Let us know what you think about it in the comments!
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