Friday, October 2, 2015

Empowering Affirmations Yoga: No Physical Limitations

Dear Friends,

This morning as I was walking I was meditating on my program for my yoga class next week and how I will talk about my physical limitations as a yoga teacher. Then, I realized I didn't like the sound of that: "physical limitations". 
 The humyn body is perfect, and does what it does and doesn't do what it doesn't do. Sometimes it's going through illness, sometimes it's more flexible, more healthy, and sometimes it's less. Sometimes people are flexible but "unhealthy" in other ways. It's not about good or bad, sick or well. 
 I would like us all to accept our bodies as they are, and focus on being kind to ourselves, and to others.
 I can't remember a time when I wasn't interested in yoga. But I can recall over 20 years of not feeling like I belonged in that "scene" I thought was a clicque because I didn't have the awesome physique of perfection I saw that yoga teachers had. Thankfully yoga has changed (or have my beliefs?) and I started seeing and meeting people who were of different physical sizes and abilities, and also more melanin-enriched like Moi!
 I've always been highly affected by visibility or the lack thereof of models doing what I want to do. I've often mentioned how I didn't even know I could play the guitar, even though I wanted to, until I saw Tracy Chapman doing it. Lita Ford, Joan Jhett, and the countless skinny white guys I'd seen doing it did nothing to convince me I could.
 Well, as a result of practicing yoga and other self-care modalities, I've noticed what I was calling "limitations" in my physicality, one or two severe enough to see a physical therapist. For instance, I've always known I don't have total mobility in all of the fingers on my right hand. It was never a big deal, because all it would affect is my ability to do a proper military salute, and I never had any intention of joining the military! 
 But doing certain poses in yoga, specifically any of them on all fours, I no longer can just support my fists without noticing it. I used to do that, no problem, and because I wasn't teaching yet, I didn't feel I needed to explain it. Now, I've noticed I couldn't support myself with both palms flat even if I wanted to, because my right arm just doesn't go that way. My wrist won't bend that far and there's pain there. Why did I never notice that before? It's obvious to me - I hadn't become that familiar enough with my body until yoga - both the practice and the teaching of it. No wonder there are so many teachers and so many teachers still keep learning and taking more training courses for the rest of our lives - there is so much to yoga, and so many gives to receive and to share when we do both!
 Through yoga I have learned the beauty of my body exactly as it is, with my eating disorder, with my survivor issues, with my so-called "excess weight", with my areas of inflexibility, with my so-called "physical limitations."
 But I've also discovered wonderful things about myself, and my physique, including that as one of yoga teacher Pamela Urbas said, has "very good balance". I never knew that about myself, but I do recall how well I was able to ride my tricycle fast, backwards, and in circles, when I was a little tyke!
 I remember when I first learned that "wheelchair-bound" was a slur because people with disabilities saw their wheelchairs as tools of freedom and mobility. What an interesting statement on perspective!
 What if instead of viewing your supposed inability to "strike a [yoga] pose", you instead just saw your body as brilliant and wonderful, able and noble, just because you exist, you are here, you choose to be here, you are breathing, you came to class, and you are trying? Why can't that be enough? I say that it is!
 Your body has no physical limitations. It simply does what it does, and it chooses not to do what it does not do. Your body in its wisdom simply is. No limitations! And that would be the case even if you did not experience the progress that regular yoga practitioners usually do - increased flexibility, endurance, and peace of mind. Sometimes even just the discipline and routine of going to class once a week can be enough to start making some significant and positive shifts in your life! No limitations. Just being. And appreciating, and practicing with routine and dedication and self-love. :)
 I am grateful to have found a yoga community that supports all people with a passion for, and experience in this timeless healing tradition to get comfortable and find wisdom in the bodies we now have.

Here are some affirmations to replace some negative thoughts about your body. May they be used by, and work for you, if you wish, and as always, feel free to change them as feels best for you. Trust the power of your mind and the wisdom of your body. They will always bless you back!

"One of my physical limitations is..."
"This is one of my physical limitations" 
"This is a physical limitation of mine"

"This is how my body works"
"This is how my body is right now"
"My body bends this way"
"My body does that"
"I am most comfortable when I do it this way"
"I like to support myself with this modification"

I have the perfect body for yoga!

(Repeat as feels fantastic!)

Check out my Empowering Affirmations Yoga Class on 2nd & 4th Wednesday nights at Ahimsa House! (FREE!)


Make yourself a beautiful day!

Cassendre Xavier
(aka Amethyste Rah, aka Amrita Waterfalls)
"renaissance negresse & ARTrepreneur"
(musician/writer/actress/fine artist)
Leeway Transformation Award-Winning founder & executive director of the Black Women's Arts Festival (Est. 2003) and the Women's Writing & Spoken Word Series (Est. 2002). 

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