When I was in college, I discovered the book Our Bodies, Ourselves. I loved that book and that it exposed me to so many things about women’s health and women’s bodies. Some things were familiar — things I had learned from the women in my family — and some were new. A lot was new.
I treasure that period of discovery, of being curious about my body. It’s taken me awhile to get back to that place of seeking to understand my body.
A few things have brought me back.
The first is just time. My mother used to tell me you couldn’t pay her to go back to her 20s, and lawd, I understand that now. I wouldn’t go back to my 20s either. So much angst. I much prefer my 30s. My 30s are giving me lots of opportunities to make peace with some things. My propensity for giving zero fucks increases by the day. I don’t struggle so hard against my own instincts, and that is a relief. I also don’t struggle as much against my body as it is right now.
The second is a couple of recent health scares. Really, it’s been my partner experiencing those health crises firsthand, but they have galvanized us both. Suddenly, I understand what it means to cut out a lot of sugar (sugar withdrawal, anyone?), and to begin to build a different relationship with foods. It’s exciting, and refreshing and sometimes exhausting, but the changes feel like more than a fad. They feel like a new path.
Third, I came back to yoga. I hadn’t really practiced since graduate school, and I started again this year. There is always a sense of pride when I am able to do a particular asana. I am proud of my strength and flexibility. But outside of the physical benefits, yoga serves another function. I was having a discussion about yoga and body image, and someone framed yoga as a way to work through the things your body remembers, especially past trauma and shame.
That really resonated with me, this idea that our issues live in our tissues. I don’t think that yoga is the only way to address those issues, but for me, it’s been a place to start seeing and feeling my body as real again. For a long time, I think I was just carrying this body around, just letting it move me from place to place without any real thought.
Now, I’m rediscovering (discovering?) what it means to be in my body and it’s a pretty amazing journey.
[Note: the photo above is of Sariane Leigh, of Anacostia Yogi.]