The first time I watched a video of myself teaching yoga, I had to take a time out.
Even though I knew the lighting wasn’t quite right and I was wearing a boxy shirt that didn’t move properly and had sweat marks from the humidity and sunshine, the way I saw my body shook me. I’d taught yoga hundreds of times in this body, but I hardly recognized it on screen.
After uttering a loong “oooooooof,” I excused myself from the video my friend and I were reviewing together, and sat down outside. With my hand over my heart, I took some deep breaths and asked myself, “What now? Should I get out of this?”
Years ago my answer would have been a resounding, “Yes! Cover yourself and run for the hills!” Fortunately, on that day a wiser part of me spoke up with what are now very familiar words.
“Just show up.”
Don’t get me wrong, those messy first yoga videos never saw the light of day. But they didn’t stop me from being on camera, either. The next week we started shooting them again, this time in better fitting clothes with clearer lighting. People still practice with those videos!
What I’ve learned over the 6 years I’ve taught yoga, is that my body does a fine job of demonstrating poses. It does a good job doing lots of other things, too. But there was a time when I didn’t appreciate what it could do because I was so worried about how I thought it “should” look.
Until I really committed to working on my body image, I consistently had a hard time showing up to my own life. I was convinced that my legs were too big to wear what I wanted, my under eye circles were too pronounced to be tagged in pictures, and that I would never be who I was supposed to be until I could control how I looked.
The time, energy, and worry invested into policing our appearance sucks up a lot of excitement and courage. To the best of my knowledge, there’s no way to get those years back.
But we can summon our compassion for our bodies and find the courage to show up now.
So I show up in patterned leggings and teach yoga on camera. I show up and lead my coaching business. I show up and totally bomb in improv (and have fun doing it). I show up and ask people to dance. I show up to care for myself and I show up to serve others.
We are more than our bodies. But we need them if we are going to show up.
What would you show up for, if you and your body were friends?