I am 300 lbs and tomorrow is the first day of my yoga teacher training.
I am a body positive blogger, and I’m terrified of my body, and what it will feel like during a 7:30 AM Ashtanga Vinyasa – the first taste of my 200 hour yoga teaching training.
I’ve had conversations with fat yogis on instagram and they’ve all given me the same beautiful advice about how I belong even though I don’t feel like I belong. How my body is meant to teach both my instructors and my classmates what a body like mine is like in a yoga setting.
The last yoga class I attended was six weeks ago.
I am not used to this fat body in a fitness class. I am used to this fat body in a private, solo environment. I was smaller, had a career where I spent 9 hours on my feet, and younger when I actively participated in group fitness efforts.
The last yoga class I attended six weeks ago – I felt shame.
For the last year of my life, because of personal and very public reasons, I haven’t left my home much. When I say home I mean 10 mile radius, with exceptions for road trips with my boyfriend. In the last two or three months, I’ve started going out at night.
In the last year, I’ve gained 60 pounds, and my muscles have atrophied. They are sleepy. The weight is something I am learning to be more neutral about. Body positivity is an ongoing path and I’m not going to be the lighthearted blogger attempting to tell you that I love my body as much as Lizzo does. I’m striving toward body neutrality.
I started yoga again this summer when I wandered into a restorative class and then was offered a gig promoting ClassPass, an app that lets you try out fitness classes in your area. I attended more restorative yoga classes.
I like laying on the floor for extended periods of time until some hidden trauma opens up in my hips and explodes into my tear ducts. Those moments are healing. They’re usually in darkened, candle-lit sanctuaries – ones which feel private, even though there are usually fifteen other women around me.
I like lifting 5 pound weights in my apartment gym while listening to Taylor Swift. Those moments make me feel strong.
I like going on 10 lap walks around shopping malls. Those moments make me feel glamorous.
Doing something athletic around others makes me feel ashamed. Especially when it’s something I could easily do a year ago.
Six weeks ago I attended a yoga class called Feel Good Flow. The teacher was plus size, the class was diverse. I felt a positive energy flowing through me as I almost galloped up the stairs to my studio – lofted above a record store in East Dallas – one of the coolest locations anyone could put a yoga studio. I rolled out my mat next to two bodies that looked like mine. I drank some water and stretched my toes out in front of me… and then our class began.
Moving through asanas I felt blood flowing through my body in a way it hadn’t in what felt like ages. It felt good. Then, in less than five minutes, I got tired.
I retreated to the safe resting place of Child’s Pose, only to find that Child’s Pose … hurt. It hurt a lot. I felt my thighs folding against my calves and pushing my shins into my mat – which felt paper thin. I didn’t know what to do. This was meant to be the place where I relaxed, where I could come when things were hard. My safe place.
If you have no safe place – where the fuck do you go?
I laid down on my belly. This was my new resting place. I felt tears pooling underneath my nose. I couldn’t control them. For the first time in a very long time into my body positive journey – I felt hatred towards my body. Hot, seething hatred.
Simple poses were terrifying to me. I didn’t want to try anything else because I didn’t want to see what else my body could no longer achieve.
Anything requiring my small arms and shoulders to support my large mid-section terrified me. I’ve always enjoyed balancing standing poses in yoga classes – a respite I hoped would come, but did not.
Downward dog hurt.
Forget about chaturanga.
I stayed in my belly puddle – we will call it Crydasana for the sake of cheeky westernization of this eastern practice (Namaste relevant to the kids, right?) for what felt like ages. I was here. I showed up. But I didn’t want to fucking cry. Only, the tears didn’t fucking stop.
So why the fuck am I doing a 200 hr yoga TT program when I could just take a second yoga class or whatever? I dunno. Seemed like a fucking challenge. I suppose that challenges are important to give ourselves. You know, to build character or something.
I don’t think we should get a dog right now. And we’re not yet ready to be parents. Yoga teacher training seems great. Plus, I have no insurance for therapy presently and figure some soul searching might do the ol’ noggin some good.
My yoga school books are currently being held hostage by my upstairs neighbor. They landed at their doorstep sometime yesterday and haven’t been given back to me. I knocked when I saw their car outside. No answer. A half hour later their car was gone.
The books were my safety. If I can’t do all the poses, I can certainly memorize their definitions.
I’ve had pasta and two homemade pizza bagels. The bagels came after my realization that I won’t have books for a class I had lots of time to be prepared for. TW: sometimes when I am sad or scared or nervous or happy or feeling beautiful, I eat until it hurts. Strangely enough, I haven’t done this too much since full time blogging. Blogging feels good, and I usually eat relatively intuitively.
Did I mention that I barely passed high school, dropped out of college and routinely have nightmares wherein I’m in school and realize “I’m 31 years old. Why the fuck am I sitting in social studies?”
It’s 10:30 at night. My yoga pants are in the dryer. I don’t have a lunch made because I have no idea what my body will want after three hours of yoga. What it will tolerate. What it won’t.
Starting in September, I eat a lot of mush and goo. Gnocchi, mashed potatoes, soups, stews, noodles. Something tells me I may become ill if I eat any of those things during my yoga lunch break.
I feel like I am coming up with excuses not to participate. Today my boyfriend came in our bedroom to tell me that if I didn’t want to do this, I didn’t have to. I feel like he knows the next few months will be a giant part of me being cracked open, and exposed. The suggestion angered me. I cried a little bit, but then made pizza bagels.
Tonight I feel afraid. Like I’m not good enough. My body feels wrong. My attention span feels short. I don’t feel like crying in front of strangers. I’m scared and bitter about having conversations about my fatness with people who don’t realize that yes – I am different and my body comes with a host of differences. I am scared I will smell. I am scared I won’t be able to find peace and relaxation and that it will all feel too athletic. I am scared that my body will become leaner and my classmates will congratulate me for that. I’m scared those conversations will drive me to come home and eat until my body aches that familiar sense of bloated pain I’ve known since childhood.
I’m feeling so much fear.
The one school I excelled in (I should say schools, as I went to many) was improv comedy. (Millennial who was 17 years old when The Office first aired and now has a joke-laden social media presence, surprised?) Del Close is sort of the Dalai Lama of improv … I’m shuddering making that comparison, but I made it and I can live with the dumb shit I say for jokes…
Anyways, Del Close has some sort of mantra regarding fear.
He said to follow it.
I’m heading to bed now. It’s a full 18 minutes later than I wanted to be awake.
But I needed all of this out of my system.