Contributed by Jennifer Snowdon. Spring is just around the corner, and so are shorts, little dresses, and bathing suits. It’s the time of year when we start to feel insecure about our winter weight and head off to the gym to get our bikini bodies ready. We scold ourselves for having been too indulgent over the winter months. At the gym we furiously run on the treadmill; in the kitchen, we limit our food.
I think we have it backward and propose a new paradigm. Let’s move our bodies with joy, and feel the wonder of being physical creatures, and then reward ourselves with nutritious meals. As we move into spring, let’s get our bikes out and enjoy the feeling of the breeze on our cheeks. Let’s walk or run outdoors and listen to the birds that we’ve missed all winter. Let’s go to the gym and feel alive as the sweat runs down our backs. Work up a hunger, and thank yourself with good food.
When we come to our yoga mats, we often arrive hoping for a good workout. There’s nothing wrong with sweating and stretching, but we call yoga a practice, not a workout. It’s where we come to practice for life. As we move our bodies through postures, we learn how to be present with what is. Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, a yoga teacher in L.A., said it beautifully, “Yoga is not about self-improvement. It’s about self-acceptance.” When we are present with what is in our bodies, we can learn to love and accept ourselves as we are. We need to prepare not our thighs for summer, but our hearts and minds. Yes, we can be strong and lean and look however we choose, but why are we choosing those things? Does it matter how we look at the beach? Can we also show ourselves loving-kindness and accept what is?
So this spring, as we prepare ourselves for summer, instead of punishing ourselves, let’s move our bodies with delight, enjoy the nourishment of food and drink, and let’s befriend ourselves with loving-kindness, creating healthy, happy bodies inside and out.