The connection that yoga gives you with your body is one that I find unique. Since I was never an athlete, it’s possible that as an athlete you become just as connected to your body, using it constantly to do what you do, and I just never experienced this. But with yoga, I certainly have.
This topic could balloon into discussion of pratyahara and mortality and all manner of other philosophical concepts connected to yoga, but the reason I begin here with the connection to my body is that I was so grateful for it when I went to teacher training. I had worked it hard, taken the effort to build my strength and stamina for yoga in the weeks before I went to teacher training, and I was so glad I had that extra muscle mass and extra energy when I was required to do three hours of yoga and several more hours of sitting on the floor every day for two weeks.
As time went on, use of the ice packs in the Center’s freezer skyrocketed. More people started sitting out, citing old back injuries or bad knees that had been aggravated by the intensive work we’d been doing. I myself walked away from training with a new, very minor shoulder injury and a strange pain in my mid-back that began after I got back. (I think the reason for the latter is sitting up as straight in padded chairs as I had been sitting on the floor. The tilt of the pelvis turns it into a backbend, which isn’t a good idea to do all day.)
I also walked away with a body that may not have seemed different to anyone else, but was vastly different to me. My legs had a new set of shapes, here and there and everywhere, from the muscles I had built. My abs had become more obvious and my wee little tummy had shrunk. My pants fit differently, because the soft tissue around my hips and thighs had been shaved away. Basically, I lost some weight and gained some muscle. Not much, this wasn’t boot camp, but enough that I felt significantly different.
When I got home and noticed this, I felt happy about it. I didn’t need to lose any weight, I was perfectly fine at 132 and happy with how I looked. But now, at a differently-proportioned 132, I was even happier.
And then the anxiety kicked in.
How am I going to keep off those ounces that I lost? How am I going to keep up with this muscle mass? I’m not climbing up a steep-ass hill to get to the center every morning, I’m not doing 3 hours of yoga every day, and I’m sure not eating an obscenely healthy vegetarian diet. Going back to my normal life, I’m sure I’ll gain it and lose it, what I did in California.
This should have been no big deal. I mean, it’s like a pound that I lost, and the muscles I gained can be somewhat maintained by the amount of yoga I do now. They won’t be as well-defined, but that doesn’t really matter, right?
Yet I keep thinking of that pound every time I feel the craving for chocolate, every time I look at my meal portions. And I think, nah, I can fight it off; I can eat a little less. I should try to maintain what I lost. And maybe even shave a little more soft tissue off those hips. I mean, what I got rid of made me feel so good, you know?
This may not sound so bad right now, but take it from a former anorexic: the rumbles in my tummy are the opening thunder of Hurricane Eating Disorder.
So now I don’t know what to do. 132 is a totally healthy weight for my height, and I know full well that I’m in good shape and eat a good diet (while still giving in to some of those chocolate cravings so I won’t go crazy). I could probably go down another five pounds without having to buy any new clothes or answer any questions. I don’t even want to lose as many as five pounds, but I’m not sure if I really want to lose any.
Should I fight off the voice that’s telling me to eat a little less, and just try not to care about whether my pants fit perfectly, or ever-so-slightly-less-than-perfectly? Or should I listen, and get a little leaner? (If I do that, how do I know when to stop?) Or should I stay where I am now, listening to the voice sometimes and ignoring it sometimes, and see what happens, whether I gain, maintain, or lose?
The holidays are coming up, and dealing with being a half-vegetarian when I’ll be in freaking Kentucky for Thanksgiving is not something I’m looking forward to anyway. There’s a lot of weeks of struggling with food ahead of me, and adding this weight (or lack thereof) on top is not what I had in mind.
I wish I had the time to do yoga for long enough every day to maintain the muscles, though. My shoulders were serious by the time I flew home. Not quite to the stringy stage, but almost. I guess that’s not such a good idea for a woman, anyway, is it?