Wednesday, February 24, 2010

EmBody Talk: Brooks Hall, Yoga Teacher

Welcome to the inaugural interview in the new series, EmBody Talk.

I envision this series as a way for us to open up and talk about some really difficult stuff, and thus, I see it as a step toward healing.

It's for all of us who think our thighs are "too fat," our nose "too big," our breasts "too small." It is for all of us who have not eaten or eaten and then run to the bathroom to put a finger down our throats. It is for all of us who don't get out there and Shine Our Bliss because we think we are unworthy.

It is for the girl inside who has been told over and over that she is too much, too little, too loud, too quiet...told so many times that we believe it and live out of those beliefs.

It is not enough to just say that we will now start loving ourselves. No. First, we must honestly and openly speak of all the pain. Within the unity of this witnessing process, we will find our way to health and happiness and full embodiment.

Our first interview is with Brooks Hall, the bright and beautiful writer of Yogic Muse.

What is the first story that comes to mind when you are asked how you feel about your body?

Less than a month after Nana passed away, I did my first fast. Before that I knew I could never tell my grandmother that I wasn't eating. It would have disturbed her too much. It was a 28-day raw food cleanse, where the last week was a fast--no solid food was to be eaten during that time. The experience was fine and a little scary at times. There were times when my heart would race and all manner of things were coming out of my body. It certainly was an adventure of going to the toilet!

At the end of the fast a friend/guy/yoga teacher told me how great I looked. A part of me accepted the compliment, and another part of me silently said 'What? I have to starve myself for a month to be beautiful to you... That stinks.' Of course it is not this poor guy's fault. I mean, we are basically trained to think this way by mainstream media and such. But, I don't really imagine that we will be close friends anytime soon, either...

I did three more intense fasts/cleanses over the next year-and-a-half (the last one being over a year ago), and now I'm more interested in cultivating more sustainable, healthy eating habits, rather than putting my body through sudden and shocking dietary changes. So maybe I'm feeling better about myself...

Do you weigh yourself? Why or why not?

Not usually. I don't own a scale. But beyond that it seems a bit irrelevant in my day-to-day life. There are natural fluctuations from morning to night, etc. So to micromanage my weight seems silly to me. But I am generally sensitive to how "fat" I am, if my belly is sticking out for my period, or if it's flabby because I've been eating too many processed foods, and so on. The other day I felt my skin moving all around me as I walked and felt fat. Or I become aware of fat in my face. Also I might feel supple and lean in yoga or aware of some belly fat as I fold forward or twist. So my concerns about weight are more palpable/visual/sensory than numbers-on-a-scale based. But as I say that I also know that when I visit someone's house with a scale in the bathroom, I often will get on it and that there are certain numbers I like to see...

How do you like shopping for bathing suits and/or jeans (or any article of clothing)? How do you feel during the experience and after? What do you typically do about the feelings that are brought up?

Trying on clothes does say something about how others might measure my body. So when I was shopping for yoga clothes at a boutique here in Chicago a couple of years ago and found that the tops seemed to be cut for women who had had breast enhancement, I felt inadequate for those tops. I didn't fill them. Mostly in my life, I've heard people compliment my breasts, but somehow I think that they're small. In many moments I like them, but in terms of what the cultural climate asks of my chest, I am not enough.

What unattainable/unrealistic Rules do you have for your body? (For example, some women believe that only a certain size is acceptable or that certain foods are “bad.”)

I don't have consistent rules for my body, but I have found that certain ways of eating are healthier than others. And perhaps because of my experiences with fasting, I am aware of weight coming onto or off of my body. And I do feel best on the lean side. So I strive to eat to support great energy and a healthy body and mind.

When have you felt best about your body? or When do you currently feel best about your body?

I feel best about my body when I am exploring it through yoga and movement and taking care of it. It also feels great when someone appreciates my body.

What kind of movement does your body crave or do you not notice this craving?

My body loves yoga, swimming, hula hooping and hiking... You know, I just think that my body likes to move.

What story would your body like to tell if you were able to listen?

The story my body tells is different at different times... There are times when I perceive a story about an unsafe world, fear bubbling out from inside. And there are times when I feel a sense of wonderment and bliss coming from inside myself.

Thank you, Brooks, for the honesty here. I admit it -- I, too, am a secret scale user if there is one in a home we are visiting.


Elize said...

really wonderful interview, thank you Brooks & Christine!

Eco Yogini said...

what an insightful interview. I've often wondered about the 'fasts'.

thank you so very much Brooks for sharing your story!

When thinking of that last question, my body feels best during yoga too.... :)

svasti said...

Awesome interview Brooks! I'm also participating in this series and I think that all the stories that appear here will add something to the awareness of those who read them. And hopefully it will help us all chip away at those horrible ideas that keep us at the mercy of untruths.

Thanks Christine, for this fabulous idea for sharing!

Emma said...

Good interview. Thank you for sharing this!

Brooks Hall said...

Thanks, Everybody! I think that BlissChick's questions are brilliant: I am still thinking about them! And I am thinking that I might understand more as I read the answers of other women, too. Thanks Christine!

Lisa (Mommy Mystic) said...

great answers (and questions)...I am looking forward to sharing mine and reading others here too...such an important topic

bobbybegood1 said...

Hello Christine and Brooks,

This is my first time reading or responding to this series about body image. Very insightful and interesting. I, too, understand only too well how we (women) tend to critique ourselves according to "society's" image of us. Shame! All women and men need to break free from all those constraints that are put upon them by the media mongols and fashion dictators, and learn to love and accept themselves for who they are.

Judge not a person based on outward appearances for they are deceiving. Cheers Christine!!

Brooks Hall said...

Hi Everybody! Thanks again! The conversation continues over at my post about this interview. Welcome!

Sherry said...

Brooks, I am grateful that your extreme fasting days are behind you and that you are in sustainability mode. I know first hand how your last fast affected you. I think one can get lost in the fasting process. From the outside looking in, it can seem dangerous and to the brain as well as the body.
I care about you too much to go down that road again.

PS My body CRAVES yoga and I always feel better leaving the classroom than I did entering it.