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I’ve been on a mission of late. I’m working to develop a love affair with my inner thighs.
The relationship with thighs starts early. As little girls, we're sometimes raised to abhor our legs. I have a baby girl. We had a pool party last summer. All the men, and even some of the women, would come by the area where we moms were playing with our babies. People would grab onto the other little girl’s thighs and say things like, "Look at those hams!" They would say this through gritted teeth. They’d be smiling when they said it, usually thrusting their chin forward and pursing their lips. The baby girls would just look at us with wide eyes. One time one of them burst out into tears. I thought silently, I know what you mean, sister. I was glad no one was trying to grab my baby’s thighs. I would have taken their head off.
It starts early.
When I was younger, my sister teased me mercilessly about Thunder Thighs. Look, I have large legs. They are muscular. I rode horses as a child and I did gymnastics. When I was older, I played sports — volleyball, basketball, soccer, track. My legs were critical for my speed, flexibility, power, and strength. But I never really cared for my thighs. My sister knew this was a sensitive place for me, so of course, when it served her, she used that knowledge as those who know us the best will sometimes do. "Thunder Thighs! Thunder Thighs! Thunder Thighs!" she'd cajole. I would glower in return, silently hating myself.
It starts early.
Recently, as I’ve been making strides in my practice and cultivating breakthroughs both on and off the mat, I’ve started to redefine my relationship with this dreaded area of my body. I’m a teacher. When I learn something new, I share it. My students are excited about my breakthroughs. They want to follow suit. So it's incumbent upon me to share with them what I'm feeling and how I'm making things happen.
I’ve been very vocal in my advice that people soften their edges, which has been a huge help. But then the next piece, I realized, was that my legs were beginning to help. What?! My legs are helping?
Yes, my legs are turning on. When I push from straight-arm-crow to handstand, once I lift my knees off of my triceps, my legs literally turn on and they begin to reach towards the heavens — from active feet all the way to (gasp) inner thighs... Yes, my inner thighs are light and alive. They are not just jiggly masses of meat that I fantasize about liposuctioning right off. Instead, they are a part of this marvelous transition, during which I feel light and carefree and absolutely powerful beyond measure. My inner thighs turn on.
When I gave this learning voice, it was a shock for everyone, myself included. So I started paying attention to this area of my body in several other poses. For example, in warrior 2, I often lock out the knee of the back leg. Say for example, I am working warrior 2 with my left leg in front, then on my right leg, the knee is hyperextended and thereby the inner thigh is lifeless. I have begun to bring my awareness to this. Instead of locking the knee all the way out, I soften the knee. Then I pay attention to the arch of my right foot. I light it up and create the sensation of dragging my right foot into meet my left. Voila — life in the inner thigh!
Of course, this was damn near impossible at first. But over time, with breath and patience, I can feel consistently more improvement. And over time, my thighs have started to morph in shape. They are slightly smaller and they have more feeling in them. I even think they might have a line of... is that... muscle? (Imagine wide-eyed stare here.)
I offer this to you humbly. Let’s redefine this tired old paradigm. One and all, let’s cultivate a love affair with our inner thighs. I offer this teaching in my classes. My students sometimes chuckle and sometimes they go completely silent as if to say, "How do you know my darkest secrets?"
It really is a scintillating area of the body. Why should we banish them because we don’t approve of their appearance 100% of the time? Together, we are learning to love ourselves wholly and completely, one body part at a time. Let’s move onto the inner thighs.