I’ve been exploring the difference between being ‘fit’ and being ‘healthy’. ‘Fit’ to me means being more connected to external appearance and goals, sometimes sacrificing overall health. ‘Healthy’ has more to do with how we feel internally and holistically. Our priorities are different depending on our intention. I used to consider myself very ‘fit’ within my yoga practice. I loved seeing new muscle definition and I could do many advanced postures. I believed that doing all those tough poses meant I was a strong, ‘healthy’ yoga teacher. But I was stuck in my ego. My motivation felt more about getting external accolades and status. I was not aware of this until pain woke me up.
Little did I know that under the surface, my internal structure was not ‘healthy’. The chronic compression of my spine had caused my structure to break down over time. I had to make some big changes in order to find relief from the pain.
For me, making that shift from fit to healthy, is a shift from ego to essence. Being ‘fit’ seems like trying to ‘fit’ a mold, to fit some external ideal of beauty and attractiveness. It feels like another way to try and change ourselves, which sends the message that we’re not good enough just as we are. Whereas being healthy feels like surrendering to becoming who we are meant to be. It feels full of acceptance of aging and change and honors what’s true in each moment. It feels human and lovely.
But I have struggled with self-acceptance. I have thought that if I’m the perfect weight, my skin clear and my hair looks good, then I am lovable. But as soon as I’d stray from those physical ideals, I’d put myself down. It’s fine to want to look good, but when it is compensating for not feeling okay on the inside, it can be harmful. As with all of life, we are led astray when we expect the outside world to bring us happiness.
Just because something is labeled ‘yoga’ doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Just because we can get into lotus pose doesn’t mean we’re enlightened. It’s all about seeing what’s real underneath. Are we being true to ourselves or do we want an external stamp of approval?
Why are we trying so hard? Surrender into enough-ness! Yahoo! In January, the yoga studios and gyms get so busy with people wanting to turn over a new leaf. The numbers drop off soon after. Some say it’s because we go to extremes, work out too hard for too long, and burn out trying to get ‘fit’. Exercise that is sustainable and moderate seems much more healthy. Ahhh… balance, patience and the middle way, these are our continual lessons.
With more and more of us doing yoga these days, I’m feeling the need for less extremes, to practice in a more relaxed way to bring greater sensation, awareness and growth. Here’s to our health!