You are stronger than you think



I’ve recently started doing yoga regularly again (and when I say ‘recent’, I mean only in the last three months or so). Most of the time, I feel like a minion — a short blocky thing with short legs.

This sucks when I think about how much yoga I used to do about 10 years ago, and how strong and flexible I’d gotten then. Full lotus, binds, unwobbly balance postures — no problem. Now, I take the more basic options a lot of the time and constantly worry about my knees pinging back into that old pain from old injuries. Also, I’ve put on a lot of weight since I last did yoga, so while I used to be able to move and fold easily, there’s now a lot more flesh I have to get past to get into a pose — there’s often a lot more thigh or belly in the way than there used to be!

I know a lot of yoga is also about being gentle and kind to yourself, not punishing, like a lot of other workouts can tend to be (well, yoga isn’t quite a ‘workout’ in the same way anyway). This can be hard when everyone else in the class is tall and limber and twisting themselves into binds with absolutely ease (and I’m sure everyone feels this comparison at some point in their practice). It is also hard when previous yoga teachers have simply told me to just lose weight and diet to deal with the ‘problem’ of ‘too much thigh’. It’s easier to think there’s something wrong with your body, rather than to gently and kindly work with your body, wherever she may be right now.

I spoke to my current yoga teacher today, lamenting the fact that there’s always too much thigh in the way, and asked how I could get better at those poses, how I can train it into the full posture. He was gentle and kind, as yoga so often is (and which I so often forget), and reassured that it will come in time; there’s no need to rush it. He told me how he’d started with very tight hips too but that the stretching and opening does eventually come; just keep at it.

He also said I was strong, and that was a good place to start — that I can move into flexibility through my strength. This surprised me a bit. I’d never think of myself as being strong and it was heartening to hear I’m not as ‘basic’ in my practice as I thought I’d been all along.

I notice too, as I got home, the top I was wearing to class today — pictured with this post — and the words it keeps trying to tell me: It all starts with believe.

That’s all I needed all along, right?

Belief that my body will go to where it feels good
Belief that it is stronger than I give it credit for
Belief that it’s always being supportive and strong, even when I don’t realise it
Belief that I am exactly where I need to be right now and
Belief that I will get to exactly where I need to be in time

So, yes, we are stronger than we think — and this goes for so much more than just yoga. We are always more capable, more flexible, more open than we realise.

When I heard my teacher tell me I’m strong, I felt a big whizz of feeling so proud of myself. Then when my head (ego) swelled back down to a normal size, a great whoosh of gratitude towards my body — for keeping me supported and safe and strong through every practice, and through every day; for being so kind to me when I so often wasn’t towards it.

It starts with belief, and ends with gratitude, which then spurs you on to an even more belief in yourself. Belief, gratitude, belief gratitude — keep it rolling, knowing that our bodies are far stronger than we can ever really know.

{Photo: Author’s own}

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Jamie Khoo

Jamie Khoo

Jamie is the one-(wo)man-band and founder of a beauty full mind. She's loved writing and words from the moment she started to read, and has written plenty for magazines such as Elle and Time Out Kuala Lumpur, and websites such as elephant journal. Sick of being told by mainstream media and society what she should think of as "beautiful" or not, she started this website to challenge normalised beauty ideals and create new definitions and conversations. Follow her beauty and body journey on Instagram @breatheitallinworkitallout

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