Three months ago, I did not want to be anywhere near a video camera.
Three months ago, we were collectively emerging from what we hoped would be the final lockdown of this pandemic. I had endured the closure of fitness and yoga studios for the final time. I'd had enough of watching my income vanish each time live classes were necessarily cancelled in order to safeguard the public, and decided that it was time for me to transition into work that was more reliable in the on-going uncertainty.
Through the divine alchemy of intention, timing, and circumstance I landed in this position as Social Media Manager for DoYogaWithMe. For the past 10 years I had employed myself by simultaneously teaching yoga and telling brand stories, and this position offered an almost perfect Venn diagram of my skills and passion. I have made my life's work to shine the light on organizations, and especially people, who are seeking to transform their corner of the world with purpose, wellness, kindness, and community.
Despite the fact that I felt emboldened to rise to the challenge of this job, in my own body, I was wrestling with my unworthiness. And worse, my feelings of unworthiness were entangled in a struggle I had intentionally steeled myself against, upon which I had built an activist identity - that of card-carrying feminist.
Three years ago I was about 15-20lbs lighter than I am right now.
I knew that this role would place me in front of the camera again, both as a spokesperson for DYWM, and as a yoga teacher. I felt shame that my body had transformed, that I looked different - bigger - than the last time I put myself in front of the lens.
I don't know if I felt more shame about my body and its noticeable shift, or that I felt shame that I was judging my own self worth based on the deeply ingrained patriarchal structure that has conspired to convince women that we need to stay small, and quiet, and diminish ourselves inside and out if we deviate from the prescribed, arbitrary measurements into which very few of us actually fit.
And truthfully, in the last three years, it was not just my body that had undergone significant change.
In the late spring of 2019, I set my entire life ablaze, which involved an interwoven set of circumstances that included:
- Recognizing the stagnancy of my 15-year marriage
- Not falling, but rather rising, into new love
- Shutting down my boutique - a business that had consumed my blood, sweat, and tears
- Bearing witness to the permanent closure of several yoga studios in which I had deep roots, including two that employed me, one which housed my shop
- Walking away from financial security and reframing my livelihood
- Moving three times in 10 months
- Enduring the heartbreaking, painstaking, guilt-inducing process of divorce
- Adjusting my beloved dogs to a weekly custody rotation
- Choosing wholeheartedly to marry again
And of course, I was contending with these 1st-chakra-foundation-rocking metamorphoses against the backdrop of an extraordinary global pandemic that has exposed the untenable cracks in our cultural, environmental, socio-economic, and political systems.
Like so many of you, I adjusted to living life within the same four walls, looking outwards to a world so desperately in need of healing. I turned to comfort foods to self-soothe (does anyone eat salad as a midnight snack?). I developed a habit of an extra glass - or two…or more - of wine. I met up with friends for online cocktails. I banged my pots and pans in honour of our frontline workers. I languished, I navel-gazed, and I tried my best to seek the lessons we were meant to learn. It seemed every day cycled through moments of anxiety to despondence to celebration and back again.
I no longer commuted to my work places by bicycle as I did pre-pandemic. Dance classes, yoga classes, gym workouts - all the activities that enabled me to cycle through the stress response - were all shuttered. The saving grace that enabled me to continue to move my body regularly was teaching yoga classes on Zoom, where I adapted my teaching practice to move in sync with my students.
After three years, the coping mechanisms that began as anomalies became habits.
After three years, I found myself living in a body that had transformed. A body that continues to transform as I now embark on my peri-menopausal journey.
So what did I do?
I could have thrown myself into a routine of discipline and deprivation. Counted calories, WW points, BMI ratios. Punishing workout routines. Motivated myself with mantras like "no pain, no gain."
Instead, I softened.
I decided that what my body needed the most was to be forgiven, to be loved, to be accepted. For all that it had endured, witnessed, embodied, it deserves grace and time. I know I will transform again. But for now, I want to honour the tenderness, nurture the grief, and celebrate the wisdom that this extraordinary time has gifted me, has gifted all of us.
Recommended Practices & Events
Livestream Discussion w/ Andrea
For the month of June, in my IGTV Live conversation, in my on-demand series, and in my livestreamed practice I am drawing my inspiration from Brené Brown's Rising Strong, a brilliant guide to moving through our transitions with vulnerability, compassion, and empathy. We will come back to our mats with a beginner’s mind, a soft heart, and a willingness to empower ourselves anew. We will embody the Rising Strong process: The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution and The Rise. I hope you will join me for this intentional reset and reclamation of the sovereignty of our beautiful beings, exactly as we are.
Embodying Vulnerability & Rising Strong
4-Day Series | Begins June 13th
This interconnected series combines different styles - slow flow, hatha, and yin yoga - so that we can experience a more holistic approach to cultivating the tools to rise strong.
Rise into the Light
A Moving Mandala Practice for the Summer Solstice Livestream | June 26th
In this revolutionary practice, Andrea guides you through a Moving Mandala practice - a 360 degree journey around your mat. The practice itself is a meditative journey, as though you are traversing your own inner labyrinth. We celebrate the coming of the light of the Summer Solstice with potent standing balance poses to establish your confidence and juicy heart openers to urge you to shine. We complete the strong flowing practice with fascial release using massage balls and a deep, nourishing stretch.
Classes To Promote Vulnerability
Curious about exploring your vulnerability in more depth through your yoga practice? Curated by our own Fiji McAlpine, here are a collection of classes that help you to dig deeper.
Flow into Feeling with Fiji McAlpine
Turning Inwards with Andrea Ting-Luz
Slow Flow Inner Awareness with Guy Friswell
Open Your Heart to Your Existence with Helen Camisa
Meet Me Where You Are with Tracey Noseworthy
Release Your Anger with Julia Crouch
The Art of Forgiveness with Tracey Noseworthy
Join the Sangha Session (Community Conversation) in the forum: "What are the most significant changes you have noticed within yourself over the past couple years of the global pandemic?"
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