It’s Saturday morning. My head hurts a little from the very little sleep I’m running on but here I am, lying on my yoga mat with some 200 other people inside the Milwaukee Art Museum.
“Now let your knees fall to the right side,” says the yoga instructor.
In unison we come to this slight variation of the fetal position. I place my hands on my heart and close my eyes. Our 75-minute session is winding down and I’m ready to let the poses and stretches I just put my body through soak in. I breathe.
As the yoga instructor continues to talk us through the pose she says something that grabs my attention. I wish I could remember her exact words — something along the lines of honoring our bodies for being the vessels that take us through this life.
It doesn’t matter, though, because her words transport me. I immediately flash back to the three marathons I’ve run. To the many miles my legs carried me, not just through the races but in the months that led up to each one. I recall the joy of running toward downtown Chicago when Dave Matthews Band’s Two Step started playing on my iPod. The track workout I did on vacation, where I ran the last interval as fast as I could and felt like my spirit would break free of my body. I remember the time I ran around the track, by myself, with no music, in the pouring rain, and how perfectly content I felt to be there, just present in the moment, doing what I love.
And then my mind goes beyond running. I start thinking of all the sights and sounds and places this 5-foot-2 frame of cells and organs and muscles has allowed me to experience. Bicycling through Portland and hiking up to Angel’s Rest with my husband in Oregon. Drinking tea in Bath. Watching The Police play live. Snuggling with my cat. Being enveloped in a warm summer breeze on the rooftop of a hotel in downtown San Antonio. Floating in an inner tube on Lake Erie under the hot sun. Seeing a sunset so breathtaking that I actually start sobbing.
All of these precious moments in time that allowed me to feel so alive were only made possible because of my body.
And that’s when I remember: the point of being healthy is not just to look good and feel confident in a bikini. It’s to experience life. To be well enough that my body can handle seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting, and doing all of the things I still want to see, feel, hear, taste, and do.
As our session comes to a close I make a vow to honor my body and to do my best to keep it in the best possible shape it can be in. Not so I can get a thousand likes on my Instagram posts or be the envy of other women on the beach. But so I can live, and continue living to my absolute fullest.
Your body is the only vessel you have to move through this life. Take care of it.