The first time I posted a photo of the frost, not long after we moved to Tasmania, lots of my lovely & caring permaculture friends from SA jumped in quickly with sympathy & advice – like cut down the trees to get rid of the shade, and reduce the frost, so that we can grow and produce more. But I was so struck by the sparkle & magic of it. Frost is amazing in itself.
And while it would have been ideal to have the windbreak trees right on the western edge where they wouldn’t throw shade & keep the frost around all morning, we love those trees & we can plant a little wildlife woodlot on that western side. The neighbours’ big pine trees, we can’t do anything about, but just listening to the wind rush through them is a meditation.
What does this have to do with Yoga? Well, it got me thinking…
I was taken aback by this idea of rushing in to change & fix things. Of course we’re changing, growing and transforming lots of things on our little block, but it’s also been so beneficial to just spend time fully appreciating things as they are & getting to know the place.
I think we’re often the same with our bodies – wanting to rush in and change this, tweak that, fix the other, and wishing things were different. But even if some healing is desirable, there has to be two important things present first: acceptance, and stillness.
The archetypal journey arc of the Chakras, and especially the imagery & myth of the Sacral Chakra, teaches us that acceptance and stillness are necessary foundations before any transformation. Although often skipped in our modern culture, I feel that these are the ingredients that add the real magic & presence to any journey.
Paradoxically, if we want to develop our strength and grow, we first need to be present with exactly how we are now, without wishing things to be different.
“If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation”
– Jiddu Krishnamurti
For this we need some of the qualities described in the Yoga Sutras: Ahimsa (non-violence) for self-compassion, Satya (honouring truth) to clearly see ourselves as we are in all our complexity, and Asteya (not taking forcefully or effortfully striving) to help us feel that we’re already enough as we are; that we don’t need to impulsively fill any void or sense of lack.
In terms of health, I believe this is the work that our culture as a whole struggles with the most.
As you become aware, you’ll see it all around you… the striving to be fitter or better without balancing activity with enough rest…the expectation of a quick fix for symptoms like pain without a willingness to explore the underlying causes…and the ongoing heartbreak of negative body image.
Women & Negative Body Image
In 2010 University of Queensland researchers estimated that 80% of Australian women are dissatisfied with their own body image and six years later, nothing had changed according to the Dove company’s 2016 worldwide study which found that only 20% of Australian women felt confident about their bodies.
In our own lives, how often do we hear women saying unkind or critical things about their bodies?
So we’re up against a lot, culturally, but luckily in Yoga we have practices to help. The way we breathe when we practice Asana can have a big impact on how we feel in our bodies. And we can practice meditations that help to foster self-compassion.
You might enjoy my Body Grateful Guided Relaxation, which takes you into a deep relaxation and a guided meditation that encourages gratitude and love for your body.
Listen to it at the link below, and if you’d like you can download it to keep.
It’s part of my Yoga to Nurture Course Program that I’ve donated to the Bring Back the Light Project, and you are most welcome to download and keep it for free, or if you feel like “paying it forward”, you have the opportunity to donate a few dollars to UNCHR refugee relief by clicking through to the Bring Back the Light Project fundraising page – completely optional.
Strength and good health are meant to be built on the foundation of the joy and bliss of inhabiting our bodies, with self-acceptance. Strength then becomes an adventure and an exploration, not a chore or a kind of self-improvement.
What do you think, and how do you feel about your body at the moment?
If you’d like more free resources and easy practices like the Body Grateful Guided Relaxation to nurture your body and mind, sign up below. You’ll receive a nurturing Welcome Pack of resources for calm & ease, with 2 short videos, 3 guided meditations, & a PDF Guide for standing with a posture of ease & grace. Every couple of weeks I send out useful resources and offerings and you can unsubscribe at any time.
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