Category Archives: Yoga

Got My Pigeon Back!

…sort of…as you can see from the following photos (that my hubby took of me in our cluttered studio and which inspired this impromptu post), I’m back to doing yoga every day and LOVING IT! Goddess, why did I ever stop? Oh, that’s right. Bulging disks, the holidays, working two jobs, life, stress, etc. Thaaaaat’s right.

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Well, body lovers, I wanted to share these photos with you to simply re-affirm that every triumph, no matter how small, is good to recognize, celebrate, and pause long enough to let it into one’s core. Every success causes us to rise in energy or effectiveness or joy or consciousness and it’s all worth acknowledging. When one rises, we all rise. I have really missed doing my favorite pose, pigeon (aka, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), and after four weeks of daily practice, it felt like a good time to try it. Ahhhh…

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However, I have to be honest. At first, I balked at sharing these photos. Pigeon is not the most flattering pose. BUT, just as quickly, I realized that my entire blog encourages self-acceptance and pushing oneself to explore all of the nuances of feeling and behavior that results from the exploration. So, sharing these photos was what I very much must do, if for no other reason than to drill down on my discomfort, to short-circuit my ego, to live what I write on a deeper level (like when I shared the demodex photo with you some time ago). So, I forced myself to post these.

Is my pose perfect? By no means. Is the pose flattering? No, but yoga teaches us that acceptance is key. Breath is key. Trying is key. Staying present is key. Staying with the body is key. And, above all, accepting the journey, whatever it looks like. I get to accept that not every pose will be as deep as the day before. Not every pose will “look good”. Not every minute will you be successful at staying totally present in your asanas, but it’s okay. You might not be able to do pigeon or tree or cobra every day, but that’s okay, too. There is room for all facets, all phases, all expression. Just show up. Keep showing up for your body. Keep listening to your body. Keep loving your body.

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It’s funny, but when my hubby snapped these, I was actually deep in the process of praising my body and thanking her for letting me do what I was doing. I was simultaneously feeling the delicious difficulty of pigeon, reveling in the sweat tricking, and glorying in my body for being so strong and flexible and wonderful. I L<3ve this.

So, there it is. Me, deep in yoga at the end of my daily practice, and loving the process of getting over my ego’s fear of being “less than beautiful”, which is funny because I am beautiful, even in pigeon asana. 🙂 What about you guys? Have you been celebrating the small triumphs? Have you praised your body today? Have you tried pigeon or any other pose that made you think and feel deeply? Talk to me. I live for it. 🙂

Guest Post: Yoga Saved Me from Body Hatred

This is a guest post by the darling Jen at Yoga-Moods.com. Jen and I have connected deeply on our mutual love of yoga and the body. On her highly informative, wonderful, and serene blog, she writes about the precious gift that is yoga and how it is helping her and others live richer, fuller lives. So, my BBB friends, let’s show Jen some love for so bravely exploring her transformation from body-hater to body-lover.

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Hello! I’m so honored that Liz invited me to write a post for Big Body Beautiful! I hope that my words resonate with you and perhaps help someone who is searching for a way to deep self-love.

For many years, I struggled with self-hate. I didn’t realize that’s what it was at the time. It was more a feeling of the world being against me. I see it clearly now, though. I didn’t love myself enough. I was painfully shy as a kid and I felt inferior to my peers. I remember the first day of kindergarten feeling so overwhelmed by everyone around me. I felt different from the rest of them.  While they laughed and chatted freely with each other, I shrank into the background, feeling as if I didn’t fit in. My red hair and freckles set me apart. I felt ugly and cursed my uniqueness. I was uncomfortable when called on in class. I surely couldn’t have anything valuable to contribute. Anxiety exuded from me and others felt it, too. This exacerbated the problem. Kids teased me, bullied me, and sometimes simply ignored me. I felt left out and diminished. I truly believed there was something wrong with me – and it started with my looks. Thankfully, I was blessed with real friends who accepted me and celebrated my individuality. But, that wasn’t enough to change my opinion of myself. I cringe to think how much easier things could have been had I discovered then what I know now: self-love is necessary for happiness!  Cultivating self-love is crucial in order to serve your purpose and live your dreams.

I remember as a second-grader sizing myself up in a full-length mirror.  My body is OK, I thought, but my face and hair? Terrible!  When I was 12, a family member asked me why my belly wasn’t flat like my friend’s after a day at the beach. I often heard this person bemoaning her own “thunder thighs,” saying I was lucky that I took after Dad. She often talked about how many of the women in her own family thought of themselves as ugly, though most of them were quite beautiful in reality. Still, the message was that my stomach was “too flabby” at age 12. I wish I could have ignored this comment, but it cut me to the core. For years, I focused so much on that belly wishing it would shrink. I starved myself. I berated myself. I did sit-ups and crunches like there was no tomorrow! My family then worried that I was getting “too thin.”

Despite having boyfriends who were clearly attracted to me, I still compared myself to models. I was unhappy with my face, my hair, my breasts, my butt…. One time, a boyfriend remarked how sexy my “potbelly” was, and instead of taking it as a compliment, I fell further into self-destruction. Strict diets, outrageous exercise routines, and constant self-criticism ruled my life.  It didn’t get me anywhere except unhealthy. Not to mention, I was thin – talk about body dysmorphic disorder. And, I was so focused on myself I couldn’t possibly serve others, which was always my life’s goal.

And then, something miraculous happened. I discovered yoga! It was, quite literally, as if a light shone down from the heavens! I felt as if I had found the key to life. Yoga has healed me in so many ways; I’d need to write an entire book to scratch the surface. But, the most important way yoga healed me was in allowing me to cultivate true self-love and acceptance. I got physically healthy in a gentle way, pushing myself to my limits but being kind to myself when I needed rest. I gained strength, which led to confidence. I had found a refuge – my yoga mat or my meditation cushion – where I could put everything else aside for a while and just be. All of this led to a profound self-love, which continues to grow and enhance my life today.

Jen-Yoga-Moods

Years of asana practice helped me tune in to my body’s capabilities, strengths, and needs. I discovered I could do things I never would’ve believed. When I mastered a new pose, it was an instant confidence boost. Yoga helped me finally come to peace with my body, and to actually develop that more toned stomach I always yearned for. It helped me begin to make healthier choices in my diet, my lifestyle, and with whom I surrounded myself. It helped me to accept that, as a woman, my body is constantly changing. My weight will fluctuate, I will experience break-outs, I may not always feel energized, and that’s all OK. Under it all, I am a beautiful soul, perfect and complete. When I focus on this, and my “connectedness” with others (which yoga also encourages), I am much more happy and productive. Every day I practice asana. Whether it’s a 90-minute class, a few sun salutations, or a quick break at work, it is a part of my life. If, for some reason, I can’t do my asana practice, though, I don’t worry about it. It’s not a chore; it’s a joy. I do it because I love it, and I do it for the continual benefits it brings.

Asana practice alone, however, I’m not sure would’ve done the trick. Dedicated meditation practice (also a major part of yoga, though we often think of yoga as physical) was also essential. Meditation took me to the depths of my soul and back. It was difficult, and I encountered things I’d have preferred to keep hidden. I emerged from meditation in tears on more than one occasion, but it was worth the effort. Over time, a deep, profound love developed inside of me. Love filled my entire being and overflowed into the world. Love sustains me every day and has enhanced my relationships. I confronted my deepest fears and allowed things to arise in my consciousness that I wasn’t fully aware were affecting my daily life. My self-limiting beliefs became very clear and I started working on changing them.

yoga_buddhaRegular meditation practice and checking in with myself, with love, keeps me steady, confident, and calm.  As much as possible, I wake up every day and meditate for 20 minutes.  I try to do the same when I come home from work. If I miss a day, I don’t fret, I just continue the following day. I take the meditation off the cushion, as well, engaging in mindful walks, eating, listening to music, creating art, making love….The list goes on. Just being present wherever I am. Meditation gives the gift of mindfulness that seeps into all areas of life. It trains us to bring ourselves into the present moment, the only moment during which we can act. This precludes worry and anxiety and allows us to truly enjoy living! Namaste, my friends!

“Chubby Yoga…

…and Other Tales of Spiritual Abundance” is the name of yet another book that I’m writing and have been writing for, well, several years (which, if you haven’t figured out by now, is a common refrain with me). ARG! If I didn’t have so much dang writing to do for large corporations, I might actually get a book or two finished and pushed out into the world once in a while….excuses…excuses…

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Chubby Yoga and Other Tales of Spiritual Abundance chronicles my exploration of Hatha yoga and the often funny things that have happened in my quest for transcendence. The book also explores the importance of modifying poses (which I dislike having to do), being patient (which I’m not), being fully present (which is really hard for me), and giving myself permission to be less than perfect (which makes me cringe to even type).

Why modify poses?

Chubby or not, many of us have to modify at least some yoga poses to accommodate various aspects of our physiology, whether due to injury, body type, flexibility, health-level, etc. So, it occurred to me that modifying poses in yoga is a perfect metaphor for, well, the rest of life.

Learning to modify one’s poses means easing up and relaxing, being more patient with ourselves. It’s a declaration of protection for oneself, because it means that instead of crashing into daily experience, pushing ourselves to do more than we are capable, and doping ourselves with constant stress, we learn how to ease into living (or a stretch). We pull back, just a little, and we save some for later. In mastering this, we send a clear message to the body that we are not here to dominate or control or change her, but to work with her, to learn greater acceptance, to generate appreciation and even love for her, to listen instead of talk. The same goes for other areas of our lives. (Oi vey! Am I ever in trouble!)

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It is said that one teaches what one most needs to learn, so yeah, this is a biggie for me. Modifying poses (and not just in yoga) is a practice that I want to embrace. Fully. And, as you can guess, it’s difficult because I’m so used to being so very physical. I’m strong and bold and have never met a physical task that I couldn’t do. I have never met something that I cannot explain or lift or at least move enough to solve a problem, like the Volkswagen beetle that I literally picked up one end of and moved (with my friend Brian) because the owner had blocked my car in while we were hanging out in Laguna Beach one night. But, that’s a story for another post.

I am just larger than life and very capable of physical feats of strength. I’m just used to being able to do or figure out anything that I want, from bungee jumping to racing motorcycles to shingling a roof to writing about integrated circuits and other physics-laden topics. Pulling back is hard for me. Modifying poses is hard for me. But, it’s necessary to my expansion and I argue the rest of humanity’s, too.

You all know that I believe we humans, in general, must develop a much more open channel with our bodies, but I also see a benefit to doing this in all facets of our lives–be it marriage/partnership, child-rearing, spirituality, relaxation, career, and so on. If we are to gain the body’s trust and develop greater self respect, we have to learn how to be good to our bodies, to ease up, to modify our approaches and practices. Once we learn how to do this with the self, we can then apply it to our other relationships. For, without self love, there is no real love.

Amitabha Stupas in Sedona

Pulling back instead of pushing deeper is sometimes the very thing that our bodies (or relationships) most need. Not holding a pose (or a stance or an argument) for longer than necessary is sometimes the order that we must heed. Dropping one’s defenses and being vulnerable might be the best way to solve a dispute with another person. Admitting that you are afraid and not feeling capable, might be the turning point to greater awareness, understanding, and change inside of yourself or your marriage. 

We so clearly know that domination (of the self, earth, or others) is not working. Domination is not a healthy model for humanity and has not gotten us what we really want, which is spiritual connection, love, peace, forgiveness, patience, and understanding. Negating the body or other people has not served our greatest good. It’s time to question those behaviors, push through (or go around) them, and learn to lighten up. Pulling back on a viewpoint or a pose might be the very thing that helps us transcend the ordinary and achieve the greatest expansion that we have ever known. I want to try it. Are you with me? I’ll be out on the deck in a modified down-dog if you need me.

All my love and light to you, friends. ~BigLizzy