Dear Yogis,
It can be easy to get caught up in the “should” of life. It is terribly common for us, especially women (though, men are certainly not immune) to incessantly list all of the things in life we don’t yet have (or perhaps have too much of—thighs anyone?) that we should. We generate to-do lists and resolutions that come from a place of lack, a place of not believing that we’re good enough.

When we do this, we’re asking for voids to be filled by external circumstances, we hope that something will come along and give us everything that we need to feel full enough.

The problem with this, though, is that these things that we’re looking for to fill up the empty spaces don’t exist. They can’t. When we’re feeling this way about ourselves, there isn’t really anything that can take that away—nothing long-term, anyways.

As I’m getting older (I turn 25 today, guys!), I’m noticing how absolutely impossible it seems to escape these messages. Flipping through pages of magazines, we are inundated with advertisements that convince us that the answer to our problems lies in the aisles of your neighborhood beauty department. That, if we want to be really happy with ourselves, all we need to do is to cover up everything that is plaguing us. These ads are carefully designed to very subtly introduce you to insecurities so that whatever company it is, can make money.

You’re basically reading things like: “This concealer will make you feel like you can look at yourself and not cringe!” “Your skin is pretty terrible, but if you bathe it in these chemicals for long enough, maybe it won’t be quite so bad!” “You’ll never look like this model, but you can look at least halfway decent with this mascara!” Think of how many times you’ve apologized to someone for having not done your makeup that day. How many times do you wonder if your dress makes you look pregnant, or is it just fat? How many times have you put on those yoga leggings and sighed because you don’t feel like this body of yours will ever be a yoga body?

All of these messages have been given to you, and the only way to step out of this cycle thought, these messages of not being enough, is to realize that you have the power to change it. It isn’t a requirement of life to not be proud of the body that you’re in. You are allowed to love yourself fully and completely.

Body checking is the mental scanning and hypercritical awareness of one’s body, making necessary adjustments to your clothing so that whatever it is you feel you need to hide is properly tucked away.

On average, women body-check hundreds of times in one day. If you pay very close attention to your thoughts and actions over the course of one day, make a mental note every time you feel the need to pull up your pants or pull your shirt away from your stomach or adjust your bra down your back. Don’t judge these thoughts, but notice them. And as you do, perhaps you can begin to ask yourself why you feel this desire. Be a participant observer of your own mind for one day, carry on doing the things you would always do, but notice them. When you get on your yoga mat, notice how many times do you become aware that your shirt is riding up a little bit. How many times do you find yourself feeling ill at ease with where you are in that moment?

I had a conversation recently with a lovely woman about the anxiety to walk into a yoga studio and not fit. To be the only woman in the room whose body doesn’t fit what Cosmo might tell us a “perfect yoga body” is. Frankly, Cosmo has no idea.

Your body, exactly as it is, is a yoga body. Because you do yoga.

Because you show up to your mat and you are carefully focusing on your breath and meeting yourself every single time you step into that studio. Because you are beautiful and strong and wake up every single morning with a million things to do and not enough time to do them, and still you get most of them done. Insecurities happen and there is no shame in that. It is okay to feel like you are the only woman in the world who doesn’t fit the rigorous beauty standards that have been opposed on you and are constantly circling around in your mind.

But you also must begin to allow yourself to realize that you’re not the only one. You are not alone in that. I can’t begin to count the number of times I am mid-practice and it becomes glaringly obvious to me that my body isn’t quite what I think it should be. I have curves for days and Kardashian-esque proportions, my limbs are short and thick, and sometimes I realize that I should’ve probably worn two sports bras. And yet, I show up on that mat unapologetically. No matter how much yoga I do, my legs aren’t going to get any longer. And hey, that’s okay! I don’t need them to be. They serve me well exactly as they are right now.

As a brand-new yoga teacher, I am very aware of the beauty that exists in that studio every time it is full of people.

There was one day in particular after I had assisted one of Jackie’s Tuesday evening flows (if you haven’t gone to one yet, definitely do—those classes are amazing) that I became aware of this very thing. As everyone settled into Savasana, I began to tear up because I knew that at that very moment there were certainly women on that floor who were counting all of the ways in which their bodies were flawed. And yet, I was sitting there marveling at how absolutely beautiful every single person in that room was. Sweaty and vulnerable and tired after having pushed themselves for an hour and done things that even they never thought they could do, not even aware of how absolutely beautiful they are. And I drove home that night wishing that they all could’ve seen exactly what I did so that in those moments of self-doubt and self-pity, they could see themselves as the stunning human beings they are.

So, whenever you find yourself feeling small and weak and low, remember this: that is okay.

You are okay.

Your body does things every day that you aren’t even aware of, an expert at being alive. Your body carries you and allows you to love, to be loved, and to show up on your yoga mat every time you do. You don’t need to be any other way. All you ever need to do is show up, meet yourself exactly where you are, and breathe. You are so beautiful.

See you at Evolve! With love,

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