" I don't really understand why girls and women are so concerned with preserving their youth or with having impeccably bikini bodies.
Sure, I want to look my best. But not at the expense of living a full life.
I want to honor my body and nourish her with the best food I can.
That sometimes means salads and that sometimes means chocolate cake! I want to strengthen my body by moving it - walking and dancing and running and climbing and exploring the mountains and valleys of all the earth. I don't want to preserve my youth. Age isn't linear, anyways.
I want to use up my body to the fullest. When it's my time to go, hopefully as an old woman, I want to have the laugh lines to prove I felt joy. I want the creases between my eyebrows as a reminder of the challenges I overcame. I want my faded tattoos to be a reminder of my wildness, my freedom. I want the scars to be a magical reminder of all that I've felt and seen and heard.
By the end of my life I want my body to look like my soul. Wild, luminous, swirling patterns of love and faith. I want to use my body now to hike the mountains, to make love, to give birth, to swim in the ocean, to create, to feel joy and pain. I want my body to be a canvas for my life.
I don't want to waste my time counting calories or envying other women's bodies. I don't want Botox and I don't want a boob job. I don't want to waste one more precious, livable moment being anything other than totally thrilled that I'm here! I'm alive! I get to live every day in this body that my soul chose and my only job is to honor it with a full life!"
~ Christina Vanvuren
For my sons who are my true teachers, my husband my mentor, my family my backbone and my community who holds me up and sees me as the student and teacher I am today.
Two months after my second was born I discovered a lump in my throat... Thyroid Cancer. Yes, thankfully it was a cancer that was curable but frankly though, I would rather not have cancer AT ALL. The struggle with this was not the surgeries, or the radiation. It was not having low energy and trying to keep up with two small baby boys nor was it to be the wife, daughter, sister and friend that I wanted to be. It was not the struggle of getting my levels corrected... still an ongoing process or the continuous check ups and the what ifs that go through your mind. The struggles usually are not the scars left behind on the outside but more it is whats happening on the inside... the scars that are left unopened.
You see, when I first had my surgery my boys were babies and I put all I had into being the mother they needed. I hid my physical scar with beautiful scarfs and chokers, if no one could see it then it was gone!
I taught yoga to Cancer survivors and never shared my story with them but listen to theirs and honestly I was not the teacher in that class as they taught me so many life lessons. My scar was nothing compared to the many I met. I found myself always telling them and them telling me, we need to be proud, embrace and share these scars because these scars are who we are and what we have lived! But in the end it is not the physical scar that buries us.
My yoga practice has taught me so much positive in the past years but it has also taught me negative. One might think this is not correct but the more I practice the more I see this is real! In society we are constantly reaching, reaching for better goals, better choices, better lives and don't get me wrong I am not saying this is incorrect but what if we look at the 'whats' and 'whys' that we are constantly reaching for. In yoga we do the same, both as students and teachers.
I have always been shy regarding my practice, both as a student and teacher, always staying under the radar as you might say. Hiding from the cameras! I remember the year I was given authorization, my first reaction was "No, I am not advanced enough, but in the end this practice really is what you bring to it and for me this is the same as what you bring to yourself.
I found myself wanting to hide behind the scarfs again, even though the words still ring true for me that we should all be proud and embrace the scars we have been given. So really the real question is why did I want to hide again.
I was given this scar for some reason, I will never know really why but in the end it doesn't matter, what matters is how I see it.
There are times I need to be reminded... It is not about how advance I am in my practice or teaching, it is about the person I am. The person who continues to practice even though some days it might not be very pretty, the person who teaches even though I might not be the most advanced. I have always been afraid of failing and I see this in my boys who I tell everyday... we have to fail in order to succeed... Wow! words are so easy to say yet so hard to live. Each day I start new, and each day I know I might fail in some way but for me this is why I practice and why I teach. I see asanas as a time for us to play in the playground, have fun and enjoy but the true practice of yoga well that is what we do together, holding each other up, supporting one another, showing up for our community and ourselves. We all want to 'fit In' but what we all need is to find 'Belonging' that is what our practice needs to teach us.
Social media can play on what is beautiful, strong and amazing but the true scars are not always shown. I may not be that young, advanced practitioner/teacher you might look at for inspiration but in the end who is really looking.
"I don't want to waste one more precious, livable moment being anything other than totally thrilled that I'm here! I'm alive! I get to live every day in this body that my soul chose and my only job is to honor it with a full life!"
I look forward to continuing this journey with you all!
See you on the mat!
Clip from The Call to Courage Netflix Special
True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.