A celebration of the human body - Empowered U

I hate my body, there i said it.

Well this is not entirely true. It certainly was true a decade ago when i was a fitness competitor and it was true in my teenage years and actually thinking back it has been true since i remember having a body. I can remember swimming in a large t-shirt just to cover up my flaws and imperfections at 10 years old.

What is more true for me now is: I am learning to love my body.

It is a common belief by many yogis that strength training, working out, bootcamp etc are not “yoga” and possibly that to be a true yogi means that you no longer “work out” At least these were my thoughts anyway.

I have been teaching yoga since i was 20. During my 20’s i was into competitive martial arts, body building and sports sciences. I was completely obsessed with movement. My workout sessions were dominated by my need to fix, change and distort my body. This need was perpetuated by all of the attention i would receive as a result of losing weight and toning up. The funny thing is when i appeared to be the “healthiest” competing i fitness competitions, i was the most toxic, both mentally and physically. I ate fake food full of chemicals and artificial flavours and sweeteners. I force fed my body protein, eating 6 chicken breasts a day (thats 3 chickens per day) all to look a certain way. I glued on fake fingernails, bleached my teeth and sat in an oven of UV radiation to tan my skin.┬áMy yoga practice was about contortanism; a desire twist myself up into the most advanced yoga poses i could. This desire was also fed by the attention i received from my teachers and students as a result of my physical abilities. While i was doing these “healthy practices” physically i was rotting, mentally and spiritually. I was angry, bitter, jealous and very competitive. What i realize now is that i was seeking attention externally because i did not love myself internally (Thank you, Cristina Sell)

My obsession with fitness changed as i had my daughter, Sienna. My obsession did not change on purpose but rather i did not have as much time and my body was so foreign to me. I convinced myself i did not care what my body looked like, but i can see now this was a lie and we all know what happens when we repress lies.

I began to practice yoga more at home, while my relationship with my body did not change, i began to notice this relationship more. I was able to just witness the internal dialogue and detach from it. I would make peace with my body on the mat and then off the mat continue to feed into the thoughts that i was not strong enough, pretty enough, skinny enough etc. Once in a while this awareness would trickle into my life off the yoga mat, like the time i was at a beautiful resort in the Myan Riviera having an amazing time until i saw a picture of myself in a bikini (you know the ones they take of you and then try to sell to you) the remaining 3 days of the trip i was a bitter angry person, repeatedly my husband, Luc would ask “whats wrong” and i did not have the courage to admit why i was so angry, because deep down i knew how ridiculous it was. Despite the ridiculousness of our “shit” we still need to tell the truth about it, in order to get rid of it. ┬áThere was also another time shortly after i had my son, Maxime when my daughter was showering with me and she saw me look in the mirror (have you ever noticed how much you look in the mirror) I must have sucked in my belly and made a bad face because she asked me “mom, why do you always do that when you look in the mirror”Children absorb your body language more than your words, and despite telling them they are perfect blah blah blah, if they see you hating your body this is what they learn. I decided if not for me, for my daughter i would “learn to love my body” I began to practice yoga daily, not to try to master cool poses, or to get anywhere, rather i practice as a commitment to “be” The more i practiced “being” the more i “became” this trickled into my life as well and then without trying or forcing my body “felt” strong, radiant and healthy. I began working out again, only 2-3 times per week, not to burn X amount of calories or to build a certain muscle group, but because it made me feel good. Instead of zoning out just to complete 50 reps or 5km i tuned in. I noticed there was a mantra i used with every heal strike or rep: “push” “power” “you can do this” Instead of time being my nemesis, it became my friend. I focused on the clock and on my breath and when my mind would wander and go to that place of limitation i would bring myself back and let it go. I was paying attention. I was tuning into my body. It felt amazing. I felt like YOGA. Hatha yoga and other forms of movement like Tai Chi were developed as means to keep the body healthy and fit, so that it did not deteriorate during long hours of meditation and a long life full of ups and downs.

There was a time where my “yoga practice” was just as toxic for me as my “fitness” regime. It is less about what you are doing and more about the mindset you are keeping while you are doing it. What are you focusing on? where are you feeding your energy?

Today my “workout” was my “yoga practice”

Namaste,

Michele Theoret