Your body is your primary relationship. Lovers come and go, friends can drift apart, children grow up and leave, parents pass away, and coworkers and workplaces change. The only guaranteed constant for this lifetime is your amazing vehicle of a body. That's why developing a healthy relationship with it is even more important than the relationship you have with your friends, partner, children, and parents. If you are putting everyone and everything else before your body, you are missing out on the greatest and most intimate and important relationship of your life!
Over the years, I have had many different types of relationships with my body. I have often treated myself like an abusive lover, conditional and unforgiving, demanding that I whip myself into shape with punishment. I have been a patient mother, sitting with injuries and nursing them as they heal. I have even been my own best friend, reminding myself by listing the things that I love about my body. With all the ups and downs, I have often thought I am my own worst boyfriend, and I have tried but I just can't seem to break up with me. So I may as well commit.
"When you truly give up trying to be whole through others, you end up receiving what you always wanted from others."-- Shakti Gawain
Marriage, I hear, is not easy and requires work. Staying in a healthy relationship with yourself is similar. To feed my commitment, each day I take a loving action toward myself by keeping my fitness vows. A loving commitment to my body, whether I feel like it or not, gives me the self-respect I deserve. I know that it's enough to just show up for myself and express my gratitude by using and moving my limbs. I communicate with my body, asking what is okay and modifying when necessary. Feeling, sensing, playing, and enjoying the re-creation of my body. I get to utilize my own attention to detail, and lovingly work on my nature without judgment or attachment to the result. Through cleansing, purifying, and creating a routine that keeps me balanced through turbulent times, I experience alchemical and inner transformation just by hanging in there!
My body's breakdowns and breakthroughs give me more experience, which leads to self-mastery and authority over my own body. I then get to widen my scope by sharing with my community all that I have learned as part of my spiritual practice. That is what it is to be married to your body. That is the twenty-eight-day revolution process you have committed to with this program.
Today be your own ideal mate. Treat yourself the way you want to be treated. Notice the way you speak to yourself, and how that relationship is when you are practicing yoga. Yoga is an effective way to reconnect and get intimate with all parts of yourself.
The word yoga means "union." It describes the union of the masculine and feminine parts of yourself, of mind/body and spirit, of the universal spirit and self. As above, so below. As you strive to unite your opposites, remember that the yogic path is really a path of "both/and" rather than "either/or."
I am a blend of my original male and female prototypes. I have my father's drive, but also his temper. I have my mother's kindness and humor, but also her defensiveness. I try to integrate all facets of myself from within. I find that when I can accept both the dark and the light, the joy and the grief, as two sides of the same coin--not able to see one another, yet not able to survive alone--I can start to understand my own base nature and can at last accept all of who I am. The more I do that, the more access I have to balance. That is true commitment. The balance of opposites is the key.
Excerpted from Yogalosophy: 28 Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover, by Mandy Ingber, with permission from Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2013.
Mandy will be in Toronto on Saturday, June 29 at 11:00am for a 75-minute flow yoga class followed by reception and book signing at Roots Yoga (1073 Yonge Street) -- $85 including a copy of the book, $60 class only.
The retreat center to end all retreat centers, Kripalu is the ultimate wellness destination. Located in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, the popular yoga and meditation retreat center offers classes, workshops and extended programs to suit a variety of needs and interest levels. Enjoy the natural beauty of the mountain and lakes while you're there, and take advantage of the daily yoga classes, massage, natural foods, hiking, whirlpool and sauna, and labyrinth. Dormitory-style lodging begins at $86 per person per night.
The stunning retreat center in the Santa Barbara mountains holds frequent yoga retreats and yoga teacher training sessions. Enjoy yoga classes, meditations and workshops surrounded by nature, with views of Santa Barbara, and the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands below. Visitors can either camp in tents or stay in the lodges, and dine on vegetarian fare. <a href="http://whitelotus.org/yoga_retreats.html" target="_blank">Click here </a>for retreat pricing.
With wellness retreats and all-inclusive "edu-vacations," the <a href="http://www.kalani.com/" target="_blank">Kalani Oceanside Retreat Center</a> offers yoga classes surrounded by incredible Hawaiian beauty. The facility -- which features a pool, hot tubs and saunas, massage rooms and multiple yoga studios -- is located between a tropical jungle and the Pacific Ocean. Lodging rooms with shared bathrooms start at $95 per person per night.
Along with Kripalu, the <a href="http://www.eomega.org/" target="_blank">Omega Institute</a> in Rhinebeck, New York is one of the largest and most well-known retreat centers in the world. The institute hosts a number of yoga, meditation and wellness retreats, and also invites visitors to enjoy workshops and talk from its many esteemed guests. Guests can also choose to visit the Center for Sustainable Living for environmental education courses. Omega also offers retreats at its Costa Rica outpost.
This <a href="http://www.bigskyyogaretreats.com/eplyogahike.html" target="_blank">all-women's retreat center</a> is known for its "Cowgirl Yoga" retreats, which combine yoga and horseback riding. Or if you visit in the winter, enjoy a "Winter Wonderland" retreat (yoga & nordic skiing). Surrounded by natural beauty, the secluded ranch is a place to truly get away. Stamford Magazine said the center is "perhaps the only place where yeehaw & namaste intersect." Contact for retreat pricing.
This <a href="http://www.stoweretreats.com/yoga/" target="_blank">Vermont mountain resort</a> offers regular yoga retreats in addition to a variety of outdoor recreational activities. Visitors to the small town of Stowe can also enjoy cultural activities, dining, and a visit to the original Ben & Jerry's. Yoga retreats range from three nights to two weeks, and include Bikram Yoga and pilates. Contact for rates.
Located on the stunning Big Sur coast in central California, the world-famous <a href="http://www.esalen.org/" target="_blank">Esalen Institute </a>offers year-round meditation and yoga retreats for spiritual seekers. The center is situated on 120 acres of land between the rocky coastline and neighboring mountains, and features organic farms, gardens, lodging, educational facilities and art center. Weekend workshop tuition (includes accommodations, classes and meals) starts at $405.
This tranquil Buddhist retreat center, located on 600 acres of mountain valley high up in the Colorado Rockies, welcomes visitors of all religions seeking a spiritual getaway. The <a href="http://www.shambhalamountain.org/" target="_blank">Shambhala Mountain Center</a> has offered silent retreats, meditation retreats, yoga retreats, and mindful living workshops since it was founded in 1971. It also boasts the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, a famous piece of sacred architecture. Dormitory-style lodging starts at $74 per person per night.
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