My life changed on a mat. A green one to be exact, one that had been used many a time by the other students at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I stood there in the warm room with an unhappy round in my back from hours spent staring into the void of a computer screen. I hated my body. Hated it, hated it, hated it! I didn’t like the way my toes were all different lengths. I didn’t like the slight pooch that hung over the edge of my sweats. I didn’t like my long fingers, my tall figure, or my skinny thighs.
I was lost. I had no voice. To top it off, I had gone against my desires and committed myself to college because I felt like it was the proper thing to do. I felt trapped in my body, in my life, in the city. And so, with no self confidence, a mind fogged with the stink of the bay, and the confusion of a creative adolescent, I closed my eyes gently with the instruction of my teacher, and began my first yoga class.
About fifteen minutes in, we stood in Tadasana. I reached up towards the sky and felt my spine lengthen. I wanted to sigh in relief. Then, my instructor said something that sent my mind hurdling into outer space for a moment and then back into my skull with a bang!
"As you feel grounded here, send a silent thank you to your feet for keeping you up all day. For taking you places. Wherever you want to go."
That was it. I connected my body with my mind instantly, as if I had never realized it was there before, heavy and lifeless beneath me. I felt my toes grip at the mat. I am here, I thought, really here! I started crying. I never expected that accepting my body would be instantaneous, but it was. I fell into myself in that moment, comfortable and warm in my skin. Yoga became therapy after that day, and the more I practiced connecting with myself, the more I realized that this is the only life I get; this is the only body I have. So why spend time sending it negative energy? Why take it anywhere it doesn’t want to be?
For the next year, my beautiful feet took me places. I left school (for good this time!) and journeyed around the country with a friend, a truck and a dog for two months. I lived the Ashram life 30 days, where my toes met with grass daily for blissful outdoor asanas. I received my certification to teach Yoga in the summer, and got married to the love of my life in the spring.
When you wake every morning, thank your feet for supporting you. Thank your heart for working even while you're asleep in bed. Thank your stomach for helping you to be nourished. Thank your lungs for filling you with life. Take a breath. Thank your entire body. Sink into pigeon pose or reclining bound angle and just be with yourself for a moment. Slow down. You are alive. You are here. Let your feet take you where you want to go.