The other day, after a resistance workout at my gym, a young woman (44, it turns out) asked me about my "crazy muscles" and where I "got them." We made small talk while we towelled our sweat and hydrated, and then I returned home, proud and content, to contemplate my continuing blush of self-congratulatory pleasure. Was I measuring my self-worth by someone else's approval? Was showing the shred so important to me? I considered the concept of "ego" and how I might define a healthy self-image, one that allows steadiness and readiness and balances gracefully between the polar extremes of exaggerated pride and doormat diffidence.
Historically, I have had an exceptionally well-camouflaged lack of confidence. While I've always felt myself to be kind and loving, I (like many others) have rarely felt like the star I wanted to be. I have a BIG personality, so most would never have guessed that in the theatre of my life, I have often felt like an understudy. Self-doubt has frequently ushered my aspirations to a seat behind the way taller and broader figures of practicality and fear. I have taken few risks and have tended to dedicate myself to what is acceptable and expected. As a young woman, I was grateful to have been given more than most and I struggled to feel that I deserved what I had. As I matured, my self-sabotaging mantra ran on a loop: "You're not capable!" and "What you're good at doesn't really count." That chant was compounded by a Generalized Anxiety Disorder that, despite chronic anxiety, episodes of debilitating panic and post-episode depression, I criticized as the plague of the privileged. Long script short: I was clever and gregarious but I did not feel strong at all.
From the Chakra perspective, one could say I had a significant problem with Manipura, the solar plexus chakra, which governs digestion, metabolism and will power. All the energy around my heart (Anahata) wasn't making it down to manifest as self-love and stable ego, and it certainly wasn't trickling down to the lower chakras in the form of independence while in relationship or self-reliance. And so, when I came to yoga, I was bendy and bubbly and totally ungrounded. On that sticky purple rectangle, I experienced my own ability to affect change and viewed myself as beautiful and empowered for the very first time. It was a step that would lead me forward through therapy and healing, parenting and divorce, age changes, address changes, hormonal changes, heartbreak and a new and now thriving career.
A few years ago, when my body revealed that it ached (literally and acutely) for more strength, more stability, more take-charge, wake-up, kick-butt attitude, I took yet another step toward stoking the Manipura flame. I found resistance, bodyweight and high intensity interval training. My cardiovascular system needed it. My too-flexible pelvis needed it. My sluggish metabolism needed it. And here is what I realize after more than 3 years of my #yogastrong life: my whole inner self needed it. The impact of my fellow gym-rat's comment was not pride over what my outside looks like but a recognition of what I finally feel inside. I believe that my body, my energy, my eyes are all expressing that I am stronger than ever, more willing to take risks, and more eager to step into my future and my purpose: empowering myself and others to lead healthy and ecstatic lives.
If you'd like a small taste of some of what I've learned, come check out my new class at Kula Annex on Thursdays at 10AM or message me directly and we can chat more. Many thanks to you all for your support and for accompanying me on my journey and do please stay in touch.