Question Time | on Yoga and Body Image

This time last year I was exploring my bodies fitness, where I needed to improve and how to change my perception of the body I was born in. Looking back on the year I'm really proud of where I am and looking forward to getting where I'd still like to go.

To follow the whole story you can check out my fitness diaries from 2016, that should get you up to speed.

So if you'd read up you'll realise that today we're not going to be talking about Body Image from the more usual point of view - we're going to be looking at it from the point of disability - particularly invisible disability.

I have a joint condition called Femoroacetabular Impingement and Laberal tearing in my hip joints. 

In short, my hip bones are not smooth but sharp like lots of tiny teeth, and slowly cutting holes into my cartilage and bones. On a day to day basis this means I'm always in pain (and on strong pain medication to manage my symptoms as best I can) and on my best days I make every to effort carry on with my day and avoid anyone noticing my struggle, and on my worst days my pain prevents me from walking, sitting or standing and freezes up my mobility so my movement becomes very limited.

It's only recently being understood and diagnosed, and is turning out to actually be a pretty common condition but depending on your lifestyle you might go through life and never know, or you might find out early on like me and feel the symptoms from a young age.

When I think of my body, I automatically think of my condition. When I get on the tube I think about how much pain I'm in to stand up but how I don't yet feel confident to ask to sit down for fear of judgement. When I'm limping I worry that someone can see me, when I take off my clothes I worry about my scars, and when I look at my once athletic body I think of all my muscle loss and loss of mobility.

I have been in a battle with my body image for sometime now, but over the last year I've been taking things into my own hands.

One of my biggest realisations what recognising that my diagnosis has not limited my life.

I already had this condition so putting a name to it doesn't change that. In fact, it empowers me. Now I know my demon I can tackle him straight on.

I've had mixed advice over the years - "Don't exercise it will only hurt", "as soon as your out of the operating theatre, get to physio, get to the gym, only you can hold you back. "If you exercise your condition might get worse". "If you don't exercise your condition will still get worse".

So with all the facts (and lack of facts) I had, last year I decided to make some changes. It's pretty clear I'm never going to lose my condition, and in time it is certainly going to get worse. 

But would I rather live a permanently limited life, or in the young years I have left would I like to take back ownership of my body and learn to love it again?

Something that has really helped me through that is Yoga. Yoga is an incredibly unique activity in that it can calm your mind and work your body simultaneously. When I started yoga over a year ago I couldn't even cross my legs. Nowadays, I'm a bit wonky but screw it I'm in lotus right now! Yoga has enabled me to take back some of the movement I had lost in my legs and the calm has helped me to tolerate my pain.

Taking time out of my day to pay attention to my body, to my aches and pains, how I 'feel' physically and emotionally, and letting my thoughts calm has also really put me back in touch with my body, and enabled me to be more accepting of my limitations and proud of the body I'm in.

When I now limp down the road I don't worry so much that people are looking at me as a weirdo. I think - hey look at me! I'm unique! I might stand out but this is me, it's who I am, and I own that.

Finding my inner-self again has been such an empowering journey, one I'm very much still on but I'm getting there and Yoga is really helping me find my way.

In a few weeks time I'm really excited to go and share my experience with other Yoga doers around London. On 8 September I'm going to be attending a Yoga Body Image and Discussion night at Triyoga Camden, with guest teacher Dr. Melody Moore, plus we're also going to be a film screening of a documentary all about self-love and inner beauty.

I'm so excited to meet Melody, who combines two of my many passions Yoga and Psychotherapy (did you know I used to be a Psychology Teaching Fellow?) and talk with her and the rest of the group about our struggles and pursuits.

If you want to come along too you still can! It would be amazing to take a group of health, fitness, wellbeing and mental health blogger along. If you'd like to join me the night is £20 - but you can also use my code Thea20 for 20% off.

Here's the Film trailer to get you excited!

But if you can't make it, I'd love to take your questions along for Melony. Is there anything you'd like to ask her? Do you have any questions on Yoga and/or building positive body image? Leave them in the comments below and I'll take them to Melony next month and share them in an follow up article with you all!

Melong is also hosting a number of other work shops with Triyoga and if you're interest you can use the discount code for those too! Triyoga is an amazing Yoga centre with spots all over London offering Yoga, Pilates and treatments. I love them and if you want to check them out you can find out more about them on the Triyoga Website.

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