I’m not sure where I learned it, but for some reason I’ve always been more concerned about how I feel then how I look.
For example, you would have never in a million years have found me walking around “The Hill” in high heels and a mini-skirt at 12am in January while I was in college because I went to college in Boulder, CO and in January it’s cold at night. Plus, high heels are uncomfortable to walk in. I’ll wear a coat, thanks, even if it does look stupid. To me, I was more concerned about being warm and comfortable then being cool and sexy.
It wasn’t about how I looked. It was about how I felt.
When looking good for the sake of feeling good pays off
In the professional world it’s important to look good. If you look put together then people will respect you. If you look disheveled and frumpy and tired then people will wonder what’s going on. Even though I never truly worked in the real “corporate” world, I always feel strong when I put on my “work clothes” (and no, that doesn’t mean yoga pants). I feel powerful. I’m still comfortable, but I also feel inspired.
Too often as women we get distracted with looking good at the expense of feeling good. This thinking can lead to eating disorders and other issues with self-esteem and body image. Yoga practice offers a nice opportunity to reacquaint with our feelings so that we can better determine what feels good and what doesn’t.
How yoga teaches you to feel
In some yoga traditions, alignment is really, really important. In other traditions, it doesn’t matter as much. My own personal philosophy falls somewhere in the middle. It’s important that you’re anatomically aligned, but also, when you’re aligned correctly, the pose will feel good (or at least not painful). So many students spend their entire yoga class looking around the room at how other people look, when in fact, it’s not about how you look in the pose. It’s about what you feel.
The perfect time to start feeling
As we move (longingly, desperately, hopefully) into spring, bathing suit season and warmer weather is just around the corner and women all over the world will either excitedly rearrange their wardrobe or begrudgingly start thinking about ways to cover up the parts of themselves they aren’t so fond of.
I say stop. It’s not about what you look like. It’s about how you feel.
If you want to lose weight, you might be concerned about how you look. You might feel like other people are judging you. You’re most likely judging you. Your self-critic is reminding you non-stop that you look “fat,” “gross,” “unattractive,” “so not sexy,” or whatever words and phrases your mean inner critic likes to use.
But have you ever stopped to ask yourself how you feel? If you think you need to lose weight because you’re concerned about how you look, you might be surprised to find that you also don’t feel that great. Maybe you’re suffering from chronic pain in your low back. Perhaps you’re always tired and you can’t figure out why. Or maybe you just feel like you never have enough energy to do the activities you really want to do. You’ve got about enough in you to go to work, take care of your family, and go to bed, and even that seems like a drag most days and you don’t know how you get through it.
When you tap into how you feel, you have a much greater motivating force behind creating real change. When you’re worried about how you look, for most people, that isn’t enough to sustain real long-term change.
Who’s in charge?
Our ego is in charge of managing how we look. Our soul controls how we feel.
When you tap into your soul, you’ve hit the goldmine. When you listen to your soul, you’ll actually want to work out, eat better, or do whatever it is you need to do to feel better.
Best of all, your soul will tell you exactly what you need to do. It will feel good, and because it feels good you’ll want to do more of it.
When you listen to your ego, you’ll never achieve your goal. You’ll never be perfect. There will always be something wrong, something not quite right, and you’ll embark on an endless quest to perfection that will never end. So yeah, it’s no wonder you’re tired.
Once you start listening to your soul, the weight will come off. You’ll automatically look good. The strength, the power, the vitality, the energy that you’ve been seeking will radiate from within you and people will notice.
Looking good from the inside out
It’s hard to wrap our heads around, because sometimes this type of “look” isn’t external. But you know you’ve said it before to your fellow colleagues when you see her glowing. You yourself have probably been complimented on how good you look before. It’s not about what you’re wearing, although that might help you feel better. It’s ultimately about how you feel.
We glow when we’re in love. When we feel amazing. When we’re happy. And that’s when other people notice.
As we move into the spring and summer, the warmer weather, and the opportunity to bare our bodies for all to see on sandy beaches and around the community pools (please warm weather – come quick!), I encourage you to tap in to how you feel. Truly.
Once you figure out what you need to do to feel good, everything else will fall into place. This is the magic of yogic awareness.