There must have been a conversation about it over dinner. My sister was going to play for her class. And I was going to sit in the stands and cheer. My parents were firm. Julie would not be playing Powder Puff football. She could get hurt. There was no discussion, and I don't remember fighting the decision. Inside my head, some message was received though:
My skinny body wasn't up to the job.
I labored long and hard to bring my daughter into the world. I was induced, which meant that unnaturally powerful contractions built quickly and did not relent for hours. I met those pains without medication for hours. When it finally came time to push, I machined my way past counts of ten for two hours. This little human wasn't budging. She finally emerged by c-section. I was grateful for modern medicine. I was grateful for her safe delivery. I was also grateful labor was over.
In the weeks that followed, I was met with a variety of comments confirming the need for a c-section.
"You're so little. We knew you couldn't do it naturally."
Again, it appeared my skinny body wasn't up to the job.
I entered a yoga studio weeks before I lost my job. It was yoga that kept my head straight through the fog of grief and fear and extra hours that had once been employed behind a desk. My teacher later told me, "It was an advanced class. I wasn't sure you'd return." And here I was showing up. Me and my skinny body were doing the hard work. And not crumbling as a result.
Over the past six years, yoga has helped me show up not only on the mat, but in the present, often in extraordinarily difficult moments of my life. Yoga has taught me how to breathe and be still in the tricky positions. Yoga has reflected back to me the strength of my body. It has shown me powerful results with hard work.
Yoga unlocked a part of me that had been shut tight. I've lived so much of my life in my head and my heart. I've been shut down and cut off from my body. Yoga gave my body back to me.
I mother myself by moving on my mat, challenging my beliefs about my physical limitations, and taking that new found trust and wisdom in my body into real life. Yoga is squashing the messages that trained me not to trust my body.
This spring when I bought a new bed, friends came to help me move out the old mattress and to assemble the bed frame. My friend bore the weight of the old mattress by guiding it down the steps first. I stabilized it from the top of the stairs. We eased the mattress down the flight of stairs and out the front door. We maneuvered it down my front steps and into the garage. When we set it down in the garage, my friend said, "Girl, you have a strength I'm not sure you knew you had. Wow. I'm impressed. You really pulled your weight."
It was a proud moment. I was glad to have this strong, kind man notice and confirm what I already knew.
She began to measure herself in contentment and laughter rather than in inches and pounds.