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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Yoga: Part of my path to healing

Yoga is one of the most beautiful things that I 'do'.  It has helped me to heal my mind, body and soul in so many more ways than I could have ever imagined.

I came to yoga 12 years ago, attracted to it purely for its apparent physical benefits.  An avid runner at the time, I was floating from injury to injury, training for race after race, and often finding myself laid up on race day.  I also played volleyball and worked out at the gym regularly.  And yet, I wasn't healthy.  Not really anyway.  Around that time, I weighed about 140 pounds, and I was extremely dissatisfied with the state of my body.

Me at 21

Looking back, this negative body image began when I was quite young, around the age of 12.  For some reason, I began to believe that my body should look different than it did.  I began to compare my body with those of the other girls around me, and eventually, I came to see myself as fat.  The odd thing is, that at the time, this couldn't have been further from the truth.  Looking back, I wasn't even remotely fat, and yet, that is what I saw when I looked in the mirror.

Me at 18

The more I believed this lie, the more deeply it became ingrained, and I found myself at war with food. The relationship between food and my body continued to de-volve, eventually leading to purging behaviour.  I knew that what I was doing was wrong, that it wasn't healthy, that it was destructive, and yet, I proceeded to do it anyway.  I was ashamed of this behaviour and therefore kept it hidden, and yet on some level it gave me such an extreme sense of satisfaction, a sense of control.

While I managed to leave the purging behaviour behind at the age of 20, the thoughts that caused it in the first place were still firmly in place.

It has taken me 20 years to heal these thoughts.

I won't go in to the drawn-out details of this journey here (if you want to know more, it is in my book which will be available sometime this spring), but what I will tell you is this:

In order to change the thoughts that I was having about my body and food, I had to admit them, first to myself and eventually to others.  It was only one year ago that I finally got at one of the 'darkest' thoughts that I was having about my body ('I am gross').  Since that time, I can tell you that this thought is gone.  It isn't true and it never was.  Yoga has played a huge role in healing that part of the story.

The interesting thing is (and this is the mind-body connection in action for you), when I healed my mind (aka changed the thought), my physical body responded in a way that it never had before.  Today, my body is the healthiest that it has even been... literally.  In fact, I had a check-up with my family doctor the other day b/c he wanted to be certain that everything was 'on track'.  My doctor has been with me every step of the way on this journey and he wanted to be sure that my weight loss over the past year was the result of new and healthy behaviours instead of old, unhealthy ones.  And fair enough.  I am glad that he is looking out for me.

The results speak for themselves.   Since the purging behaviours began I have struggled with anemia - at times so severe that I required subcutaneous injections of iron into my backside (this is not an enjoyable thing, trust me).  So, when my doctor found out that I now eat a mostly plant-based diet, he was understandably concerned and asked me to have some blood tests done.  I am delighted to be able to say that all is well.  In fact, my numbers are amazing.  What's more, my BMI (body mass index - in my opinion a great indicator of overall health), is the best that it's been since I was in high school.  To give you an overall idea - the healthy range for BMI is between 18.5-24.9.  For years (including when I was running and working out), my BMI was around 23-24, and even crept up past 25.  Now?  It is at 21.

Now, I know that yoga isn't everyone's cup of tea, and that's ok.  What is not ok is telling yourself destructive stories, thoughts ranging from overly critical all the way to down right cruel.

A lot of people enjoy a healthy mind-body connection.  They don't obsess about their figure, their weight, their reflection in the mirror... but the truth is, a lot of people do.

This post is an invitation.  An invitation to look past the reflection in the mirror (and if you enjoy your own reflection, then look past the reflection of the physical appearance of others).  Our physical appearance?  It isn't real.  It isn't real because it isn't permanent.  What's real is what lies beneath.  The truth of who we are.  We are not our bodies, and yet our bodies are an amazing tool that we can use to express our deeper selves.  They are vessels.  Conduits.  And they are worthy of gratitude, love and care.

Today, this is how yoga Serves me.  It allows me to express the 'me' that lies beneath.  The real me.  The shiny me.  Yoga has become an expression from my soul.

Me at 33 (present)

The above picture makes me laugh.  In August of 2011 I posted this entry, talking about how 'yoga is my skinny jeans'.  Funny thing is?  I am actually wearing my 'skinny' jeans in the above picture.  Ha!

Much love to you and many Blessings this Holiday Season!

Maren xo

PS: Stop by tomorrow for more yoga love... in honour of Winter Solstice 2012 and FIERCE Friday, I am going to be sharing another yoga video.


  1. Such a great post & I have definitely dealt with some type of issue with my physical appearance here & there. Exercising, eating right, taking care of myself, & yoga have all helped with this. I love yoga & what it can do for the mind & body!!

    I am so excited for you about your book!!! Congratulations!!! And I am excited for it to come out so I can get a copy :)

    I love this last picture, it is beautiful!

    1. Thanks for the lovely comments Andrea - all the best to you in this New Year! xo