“Respect your body”
“Be mindful of the present”
“Walk your ego and self consciousness out of the room. Your ego will get you hurt and your self-consciousness will bring you down”
“Practice in a way that honors your body”
“Empty your mind of all the chatter, all the self-depreciating nonsense”

I’ve heard all of this advice in yoga classes; here in Austin, in Birmingham, even in Odessa where the yoga “culture” is woefully non-existent. However, all of this advice never really clicked. Until today.

You see, I’m pretty sure that after moving back to Odessa I sort of had this existentialist crisis coupled with a mini-depressive episode. Suffice it to say I was not in a good head space. I was frustrated by my lack of direction and at the fact that I had to move back to Odessa. My “inner turmoil” (am I being a little too dramatic? Maybe) affected me outwardly. I began to eat crap and stopped almost all physical activity. This was pretty major since I would workout 5 days a week for about two hours at a time.

I moved back to Austin (I lived here as an undergrad at UT) all gung ho about Working! Out! and Eating! Healthy! But, I didn’t. Sure, I tried to make healthier decisions when eating out and attempted to make healthier fare at home. And yeah, I did visit a few gyms and ventured out on a few walks around my (super hilly) neighbourhood. However, it wasn’t enough and I didn’t consistently follow through.

Why? I think at the core of it all was that trying to restart all the habits I had gotten used to in Birmingham reinforced just how far I had backslid. It magnified my failure. Basically, not a healthy head space. I would beat myself up for not being able to jog 3 miles like I used to.

Until today…well technically yesterday. After a few weeks of “winter-ish” weather Austin thawed out to a nice, spring-like 72. I decided to go for a walk/jog. And yeah, I was huffing and puffing after a while. And absolutely my brain went into that “fail” “you suck” “what a fucking disgrace” place. The mental breakdown.

Somewhere along Far West, closer to Mesa it finally, FINALLY clicked. This, this huffing and puffing walking-more-than-jogging, is where my body is at this moment. It’s not where I’m going to stay, stagnated. This moment is not an opportunity to beat myself up but to learn. A moment not to focus on how crappy I may feel but as a sort of benchmark of how much better I will feel as I continue to reintegrate better habits.

I’m not going to lie, this realization sort of made me tear up. It also made me, I’m pretty sure, stronger and more committed to myself and my body. In the end its not about conforming to fit some society sanctioned “norm”. It’s not about trying to fit into that teeny-weeny polka dot bikini. It’s not about trying to expand a social circle, or about trying to attract a lumberjack-y bearded semi-hipster.

It’s about respect and acceptance. Respect for where you are at this particular moment. Respect for the body that you have. Respect for the goals you set for yourself. Acceptance that bumps in the road will occur. Acceptance that you shouldn’t do something to please others but instead for yourself. Acceptance that perfection, which is such a shit term, is a myth.


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