Body consciousness – in a good way!

I’m barely a week into teacher training at Love Yoga and already noticing benefits. The first to draw my attention was an increased sense of body consciousness.

Now body consciousness is not always a good thing. Like just about every woman out there, I’ve struggled with SELF-consciousness about my body from time to time. Junior high (miserable and mostly blocked from memory). When I gain weight. When I make the mistake of looking around the yoga studio and comparing myself to others.

But the body consciousness I noticed after starting teacher training is an intensified version of what I’ve found in the past 15 years or so when I’m practicing yoga regularly. I notice my posture, so I correct my posture. That improves my spinal alignment, so my back, shoulders, and neck feel better. I look better because my belly isn’t pooching out — as much. I could still stand to lose a few pounds. But — get this — one of my friends asked me the other day if I had lost weight!

The cool thing is that now I’m more aware of my body and how it moves, thanks in part to my required daily yoga practice and in part to the mountain of reading I had to do in the past week. I came home from Day One of training with about 10 pounds of books covering a range of topics – philosophy, Sanskrit, and anatomy. In the anatomy book alone, I’ve read about Dynamics of Breathing, Yoga and the Spine, the Skeletal System, and the Muscular System in the past week.

Even though I’ve always been bookish, science is a subject I’ve generally avoided. So this anatomy stuff is new to me and helped heighten my awareness of my body.  To people with a background in exercise or athletics or dance, this body consciousness thing probably wouldn’t be such a big deal. But as I’ve mentioned before, I try to steer clear of exercise. My few forays into athletics did not go well – two years of T-ball, two years of fast-pitch softball, and one season as the second worst player on the JV volleyball team in high school. And most of my dancing happens in the living room or at live music venues.

Yoga is different because you pay attention to how you move your body and what it is capable of doing, but — if you approach it the right way — there’s no judgement. If I look at yoga as a staircase, I might be on the fifth step on one day, down to the second step the next day and up to the seventh step the third day. And that’s OK. A yogi friend and I spoke about this the other night, and she observed that yoga might be the only place in American society where that happens. That’s a shame. But if she’s right, at least we have that one place.

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