When I Learned What Yoga Gave Me

Yoga has given me many things. My health. My community. My passion. But it also gave me something more- my confidence. I haven't always been truly confident in who I am. I spent a long time feeling inadequate: never smart enough, never tall enough, never chatty enough. Much of this stemmed from feeling lost in a world where everyone had a place. All the people I knew had a thing that made them who they are. They were the singer, or the swimmer, or the artist. I swam, but I wasn't a swimmer. I painted, but I wasn't an artist. I didn't even try to sing. I was good at school, and that quickly became my identity, but I felt like there had to be more to me than just academics. As the years passed, and I fell in and out of sports and hobbies that never felt quite right, I started to lose hope that I'd find the thing that made me me.

When I found yoga, I found something that spoke to me. In real life, I'm the clumsiest person you'll ever meet, but on the mat I felt as graceful as the ballerina I'd never been. It was a dance I could do, a song I could sing, a sport I could play. It was everything I didn't know I wanted and so desperately needed. The more time I spent on the mat, the more confident I became in myself and who I am.

I've known ever since that yoga gave me a confidence I never had before, but I didn't know the extent of it until recently. I posted about it on Instagram, but I wanted to share it here. I posted this picture, and shared the story below it.

The other day I heard second hand some hurtful things said about me regarding my appearance. They called me a twig, a baby face, someone who only a "pedophile" would find attractive. And I was surprised by how I reacted to these words. It wasn't that I rejected them as false, it was that I immediately recognized how little they meant to me. Even if these were physically true of myself and my body, they spoke nothing of my personality. Of my dreams. Of my accomplishments. Of my aspirations. For the first time, I've truly been able to find peace with my physicality because I've come face to face with what I'm capable of spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. I'm so much more than the vessel I live in, and I hope everyone who feels the need to tear others down for what they look like finds the kind of peace I have. It pains me to know we live in a world where we think it's okay to comment on other people's bodies, even if it's a coping mechanism for our own insecurities. Because that's where these words come from- how we feel about ourselves and not knowing how to bring ourselves up without tearing others down.  When I posted this, I did it mostly for myself. I wanted to voice how I felt and  put into words the new emotions I was feeling. The words that had been said about me didn't make me angry or self-loathing, they made me sad. Not hurt by them, but sad for the person who said them. If someone is truly happy, they want to spread that glow, not cast shadows.

I was surprised by the overwhelmingly positive and supportive response I was met with, and couldn't be more grateful for those who continually support me in my journey.

This was the moment that I realized how much yoga has given me. I've found, so solidly, who I am, that I'm able to let negativity roll past me without letting it bring me down.

Yoga gave me the ability to look within and solidly find my core that keeps me rooted. I couldn't be more grateful.