For almost ever, there has been nothing that paralyzes me with anxiety more than wearing a bathing suit in front of people. This was highly inconvenient growing up on waterfront property and living in a town where life happens on The Bay. Not to mention that Summer is about 8 months long. A crippling negative body image settled in to my psyche around five years old. And has pretty much held a grip on me (manifesting into a rock hard ball of tension in the core of my belly) until very recently.
Last year when I turned 40 I ‘gave’ myself Restorative Yoga for my birthday. Basically I allowed myself to use more of my mat time in less vigorous practices.
A couple of funny and wonderful things have happened. My active practice has evolved into a few times a week doing the traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Primary Series (which has always seemed ‘out of reach’ physically but is now quite joyful). I do restorative poses daily…sometimes as a full practice, sometimes just one or two poses. Really whatever time and schedule allows. Everyday I take my restorative medicine. Everyday I allow myself to meet my inner state. It, like daily meds tend to do, has profoundly affected my overall mental state in a most positive fashion.
When the editor of Access Magazine called and said she wanted to feature me in the April issue I was flattered and grateful. But then the ‘dreaded’ details emerged…”Oh, I have to wear a bathing suit?” My auto-pilot defense mechanisms immediately surfaced and I almost declined, as it would be unfathomable for me to pose in front of a camera in my most vulnerable state. But as if someone else was speaking I heard my voice say, “Yes. Where do I show up?”
I’m not sure what force intervened that day and helped me accept this great honor and offer by the magazine. But I do know that as shoot day approached, with nervousness rising, I just–did what I do- pause, turn in, focus on breathing, calm again. Repeat. My daily practices of yoga and meditation continue without fail no matter what is happening, so I always have the support of my ‘meds’.
I carried my yoga practice with me to the shoot and throughout the whole day. The most liberating part about the whole experience was that I felt comfortable and confident in my skin. I had a blast trying on as many bathing suits as time would allow. Who is this person?!?!? It was fun. I felt great. And I am not only still breathing, but excited to get out on the beach in a bathing suit this Summer!
Thirty-five years of the shackles of severe self-consciousness issues…gone bye-bye! Bathing suit shopping here I come! I could not have arrived at this victorious moment without my yoga. I bow to it and to a new found 40 year old inner peace and calm…the depths of which are apparently endless.