We are excited to announce our very first Guest post by the lovely Caitlin, a food and fitness blogger from Cait Plus Ate.
When I started my blog almost a year ago, I was writing about my foodie adventures and favorite fitness activities. All was well and good – but I felt like I was lying to my readers. The truth is I have been struggling with disordered thoughts on eating and exercise for the last two years, and though I adore hitting the gym and going to fabulous restaurants, it’s not all sunshine and roses. It’s also way too much of my mind being unkind to me and trying to make me feel guilty for not doing “enough” or doing “too much.” A few months ago I started opening up about these struggles on my blog, and have been overwhelmed – at some points, to tears – by not only the support I get from readers, but also how many other beautiful people out there feel the same way I do.
Grow Soul Beautiful’s “about” mission on the homepage speaks to me in so many ways. When Amanda asked me to guest post, I felt honored and excited, because I have so much to say about my experience with yoga and how mindful it has made me of my relationship with my body. One concept in particular comes to mind, and you may have heard of already – viewing the human body as an instrument versus an ornament.
I just recently became aware of the comparison between these two viewpoints, during an Element Yoga DVD I was doing in my basement. I was already struggling that morning, knowing that the 50-minute yoga practice would be my only workout for the day. I felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough and that there were more intense workouts I “should” have been doing. Toward the end of the DVD, the instructor asked us to think of our bodies as instruments, not ornaments. I felt like these words had been delivered to me by fate at the perfect moment.
My body can do amazing things. It can run an 8 minute mile (I may have only done this once, but hey, IT HAPPENED). It can push spin pedals round and round. It can push itself up into wheel pose, and hold it for an amount of time that is only increasing. I can use it as an instrument to tackle fitness challenges, and I can use it as an instrument to spread love. My body can hug, kiss, and cuddle. It can help a friend unload her car. And instruments need to be tuned. They need tender loving care. That care can come in the form of vegetables, or dessert. It can come in the form of a run, or a rest.
But it takes effort for me to see my body as an instrument. Instead, I focus so much on it as an ornament, or an item on display for others to see. An ornament never exists for its own good. It exists for the viewing and enjoyment of others. What will people think of my body? How will they view it? Will they like what they see? These are the thoughts that invade my mind naturally, as unfortunate as that is. I have fallen into the habit, the tendency, the mindset of seeing my body as an ornament for others. I do not come into the picture unless my mind wants to tell me I’m no good, that I’m not trying hard enough to make my body that perfect ornament.Cait Woking out courtesy WellAndGoodNYC.com
And then we come back to yoga. Because yoga is just one of the many ways that I am mindfully transforming my distorted viewpoint. When I practice, it is easier for me to see my body as an instrument because I am so aware of the way it moves, twists, lunges, even lies. For example, I don’t mind as much if I think I can see a roll in my stomach as I bend forward in standing wide-legged stance, because the hamstring stretch I’m getting feels SO good that I know it can be NOTHING but good for me. I don’t care that the ornament does not look perfect, because my hamstrings – a component of my instrument – feel perfect.
So next time you are practicing yoga, or just practicing your daily activities, I challenge you to stop and ask yourself – how am I viewing my body right now? Instrument or ornament? If your answer is the latter, try re-framing your mindset. Instead of wondering how you look, focus and meditate on something wonderful your body did that day. Even if it wasn’t “challenging” – did it make you or someone else feel good? Did it accomplish something? I know you’ll be able to find something. Our bodies do wonderful things every moment of every day. Even your heart’s every beat is amazing, because it’s keeping you alive for those who love you.
Caitlin is a 23 year old full-time working girl, currently pursuing her MBA and blogging at Cait Plus Ate on the side. She’s a total foodie and loves restaurants. She also loves learning about nutrition and fitness. She’s striving to live a healthy and happy lifestyle and documents everything that comes with it in her blog. Her struggle with an eating disorder has led to a new appreciation for cherishing every amazing part of herself, inside and out. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and like her blog’s Facebook page, to keep up with her adventures!