My teacher was showing us some really wild things she has learned to do with her abdominal muscles. She blows out all her breath, pulls her abs back toward her spine, then is able to release and contract individual muscles so that a wave ripples back and forth across her belly. It’s wild to watch. Fortunately, she didn’t ask us to try copying her.
She was explaining that these exercises can help with digestion. Then she stopped. She looked up at us and said, “I don’t know if this is valid or not. I don’t know. Maybe not. But I’m going to say it anyway.”
“People who take up yoga,” she continued, “usually become more conscious of all the ways in which they treat their bodies. More conscious of their environment, their posture, what they eat. And people are always coming to me, worried, saying, ‘I’ve realized I need to eat better, to eat cleaner and fresher. But my family isn’t there. What shall I do?'”
My teacher continued, “I tell them that yoga and eating better and improving our attitudes and environments is not about rules. It is about realizing who you really are. Learning to care for and be at home with yourself. And part of what makes us who we are is our connections with other people. Those connections are more important than any rules. Eat with your family.”
Eating with my family, even as I clean up my own diet. That I can do. I even surprised myself by being able to hold a pigeon pose for a while last night. The rolling-waves-of-abs thing—not so much. Baby steps.