I read an article the other day, it was called ‘3 Mistakes I Made While Trying To Be A True Yogi’. As I was reading, I found myself wondering; how hard am I trying to be a yogi? The answer; too much.
Like so many young women nowadays, I was drawn to yoga by perfectly postured Instagrammers. They made the practice look so elegant and gushed about how much happier and ‘more enlightened’ their daily practice made them feel. However for me, their biggest endorsement of the practice was their physique. They were beautiful girls, often very thin, and were more often than not, looking to interchange their yoga uploads with brightly coloured ‘nourish bowls’ and raw treats from their favourite raw food café.
“There has got to be something in the Kombucha Kool-Aid” I thought, and thus I began my ‘Yogic journey’.
I approached yoga with the pure focus of ‘looking like them’, not even necessarily their form of yoga poses, but thirsting for their flat stomachs and thigh gaps that formed such a beautiful silhouette against the sunrise of their latest pic. I practiced every day, ignoring instructors who suggested the class ‘not give in to the ego’ and ‘find their space’. Who were they kidding? I was there to sweat and stretch and bind my way to yogic perfection. The meditations, pranayama and Shavasana seemed a waste of the class time, “I could be boat holding and totally working my abs right now” I thought impatiently.
While I considered a vegan diet for a long time, my home environment and love for meat didn’t allow it. Instead, I became a stickler for #CleanEating, deeming gluten and anything close to a packet as the enemy. Eating out with friends and family became a real stress, not just for me but for them as well. My avoidance of common commercial kitchen ingredients, which included oil, limited my food choices to so little that I would often change an entire menu item and severely under eat.
While I wasn’t eating a whole lot, my obsession with food grew and I would find myself losing hours on Instagram looking at pictures of #CleanEating, and sometimes, out of pure interest, or longing, the difference of which I’m not too sure, exploring the pages of Melbourne’s Best and Greasiest burgers.
Soon my Instagram account began to look like those of the girls that I admired so much. It was bright, colourful, full of positive affirmations, pictures of me holding a pose on the top of a rock, and of course, full of food. But why wasn’t I looking as happy as they were?
Why were my family and friends so frustrated with me and my quickly shrinking frame?
Why were my muscles constantly sore and my joints brittle and coarse?
Why was I constantly hungry and thinking about my next meal?
Then, a lightbulb moment. Maybe, just maybe, what works for some people doesn’t work for everyone. A revolution I know.
It would be easy to accuse these girls of having eating disorders and hiding behind the manicured version of themselves on social media. But that’s not what I’m about. I’d like to think that these girls are truly reaping the benefits of their daily practices, vegan diets and have thriving relationships in their lives.
For me however, the expectations that I put on myself to emanate their lives and achieve their bodies were putting my body and mind under serious stress.
So I’ve been trying to dial it back, to listen to my body that little bit more, to ‘find my space’.
I am trying to listen to my body and if it’s sore, rest it, and go for a walk that morning instead.
I am challenging my disordered thoughts and fears around food and am finally allowing myself to enjoy eating again. And guess what? You’ll never guess, so I’ll just tell you; I eat gluten sometimes. And I haven’t died.
I unfollowed a lot of social media profiles and removed what was a constant feed of images that encouraged my disordered thought processes and negative body image.
I began training to become a certified yoga teacher, and have discovered the origins, spirituality, anatomy and science of yoga for myself.
I have taken pieces of information, recommendations and experience and have began to correlate a health; diet, exercise and lifestyle approach that works for me.
So please girl, don’t lose yourself, your love of food, your energy, your time, or your health, in the pursuit of ‘Trying To Be A True Yogi’.
Just remember girl; you do you.
Embarking on her own health journey and career pursuits in the journalism industry, Zhané is keen to address issues of health and lifestyle, particularly those concerning women today. Working her way up the media-writing ladder, she is looking to grow her portfolio of work across these areas working as a freelance journalist for a number of wellness professionals and wellness-centered businesses.