As some of you may have noticed from the scrolling list of public workouts, I’ve been going to yoga classes once or twice a week since the beginning of the year. Yoga has always been something I’ve really wanted to like, but always found myself in classes that were either too challenging or full of people that were far too good at yoga to make a beginning comfortable. I found a studio near my house that offers a series of Gentle classes. They are focused more on breathing techniques, restorative poses, and gentle strength building. Beginners are encouraged, and even seasoned yogis sometimes need a break. This class has been absolutely perfect for me, as one who is not at all strong, cannot do a push up, and has trouble changing poses quickly (did someone say blood-rush to the head?). But all in all, the class has been amazing, and just last week I did my first-ever successful lady push up. So I am definitely getting stronger, and the flexibility practice has treated my running-abused hips very well.

In a class last week, or maybe the week before, the instructor asked us to devote our practice that day to the idea of “radical acceptance.” She asked us to, for an hour, focus on loving ourselves exactly as we are, without aim to change anything. This concept is completely foreign to me. I am a goal-oriented, seeker of continuous improvement type, who although is not completely dissatisfied with her appearance and current ability, I am definitely not ready to call it quits and accept every part of me as i am. But, for that hour of downward dogs and low lunges, that is what I focused on.

It’s really important to love yourself, at whatever stage you are in. You can’t be constantly focused on who you are going to be, because the only person who matters is who you are right now. I think meditation is really important, and that is one of the biggest reasons I have enjoyed yoga. It is giving me an opportunity to reflect on who I am, what I am doing, and is helping me find ways to be happy with whoever and whatever that is. But to radically accept what you are now, is to ignore goals. That is not my prerogative here. My fitness goals, and my health-oriented improvement plan only works if I don’t radically accept where I am now, right?

Are accepting where you are and setting improvement goals mutually exclusive? Will I always be a little dissatisfied with my current ability? I don’t have all the answers, but this is something that has been on my mind lately, so I thought I’d share. Maybe it doesn’t work for an all-the-time mantra, but if you can take an hour out of your day to radically accept who you are and everything about your life, I think you are on the right track to feeling happier and healthier.