My house is filled with books about all types of things, but I want to share some of my yoga books with you. I’ll try to always give you a link so that you can buy the book and read it too.
I have been practicing at Desert Song Yoga for almost two years now, and I absolutely adore it there! As I’ve been studying with Meg Byerlein, who is a certified Anusara yoga instructor. (As a very important aside, and as a very, very short summary, Anusara yoga is a style of hatha yoga that was created by John Friend in 1997. I couldn’t possibly capture all of how beautiful it is in this one posting alone, but I can say that what I love most about it is that it emphasizes the importance of heart-opening and intrinsic goodness. I invite you to learn more about Anusara yoga by going here.)
Now, back to us 🙂 I, too, want to become a certified Anusara yoga instructor. I am excited to devote the years and years of practice that I am sure I will need before I am ready to do that, but in the meantime, I am trying to absorb all that I can about the teachings and the practice so that I can fully appreciate what I hope to one day be teaching others. One of the requirements for Anusara certification is the completion of a reading list. There are soooooooo many amazing books on there! There are only a few that are required, but there are dozens that are recommended, and I want to make it through the whole list!
So, all of that is a lead-up to telling you that this weekend, I finished a book called Yoga from the Inside Out by Christina Sell, which was on my reading list! This book covers a subject near and dear to my heart: learning to have a healthy body image. This was a pretty quick, but very inspiring read. The general idea is this, I think: It is good to aspire to be physically healthy. There are numerous health reasons for wanting to minimize body fat, to eat well, and to exercise. BUT it is also important to love and honor yourself right where you are this minute, understanding that life is a process, but that you are perfect as you are right now.
This is absolutely beautiful. And critical.
Instead of giving you an abstract example, I’ll talk about myself. I am currently about 5’11”, 195 lbs. I would like to lose about 30-40 lbs. but that is its own process. So, this book would instruct that instead of beating myself up about how much I need to lose, or what jiggles when I walk, or why I shouldn’t have eaten that cheeseburger last night, etc., I need to love myself just as I am. Only through that self-love and acceptance–instead of hating or resisting what is–will I be able to make any changes in myself.
Guess what? That’s hard for me.
I know that I am naturally hard-headed, so it’s difficult for me to just breathe into this minute and know that this one is the only one I can control. It’s 8:32 p.m. now. That means everything I did from 8:31 p.m. and back is already finished. It doesn’t belong to me anymore! 8:33 p.m. doesn’t really belong to me either because we’re not there yet, and it’s not promised to me. But I can control right now. I can decide that I’m going to spend this moment reading or writing something positive, drinking water, meditating, or….doing yoga.
I think what I loved about this book the most was that Christina Sell (in addition to, somehow, knowing everything about me and everything I have ever struggled with) really captured what has continued to make yoga such a blessing to me. When you are practicing yoga, and I mean really practicing, with your whole mind, body, and heart in it, you don’t have time to criticize yourself. I am still a mental busy-body, but there have definitely been times where I have been 100% focused on what’s happening on my mat. During those times, I don’t have time to think about what went wrong at work, or what I’m going to eat for dinner, or whether I’ll have enough energy to go to the gym in the morning.
The practice of yoga can, if you let it, be a way to appreciate your body in a new light. Maybe all you can do right now is Tadasana. But be blessed that you have two legs that are strong enough to support you. Look down at your feet, and plant all four corners of each foot firmly into the earth. Draw your knees up towards your thighs, and feel the energy surging through your legs. I promise, before long you won’t see stretch marks or cellulite. You’ll see the powerful grace of your body, and that will be beautiful to you.
It is beautiful. You are beautiful.