Learning to Love My Belly: A Yogalates Story

Divine Transformation

I’d been teaching for about a year after completing my 200 Hour Yoga Instructor Training through Holy Yoga Global®. I was starting to feel as if the classes I was offering were becoming a little repetitive and somewhat stale. I wanted to expand the “core work” section of my classes to include more than just planks. I was also hoping to flatten my tummy. Although I had never taken a Pilates or yogalates class, I came into the training with the understanding that incorporating Pilates exercises into my yoga classes and practice would satisfy all of these personal and professional needs, so I was excited to take this new training to benefit not only myself but also my yoga students.

The Holy Yoga Yogalates training did not disappoint. However, as with all Holy Yoga training programs, while the anatomy and practical training are robust, the “training” does not stop there. I learned about new poses to incorporate into my regular yoga classes that would help my students strengthen this vital group of core muscles. Also, I was excited to learn about some small intricacies that would have the potential to completely change my yoga practice as a whole. The minute details made all poses more beneficial for my entire core, from my neck to my glutes, from my belly to my back. 

The training did not stop there. I was brought face to face with the harsh view I had of my own body. I had pitted myself as an enemy of my body because it didn’t look, feel or perform in the way I desired. Through the training, I was encouraged to find gratitude for how my body was made. I learned (not for the first time, but with a new revelation) that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139:14) and that includes how my body works, looks and performs.

The first yogalates class I taught was packed, which just goes to show how much people are drawn to this type of core-strengthening class. Although it wasn’t marketed as a “Holy Yoga” class, I brought some “holy” to the class. I spoke to the students about being kind to our bodies, about finding gratitude for what our bodies are able to do. About not just being “OK” with where our bodies’ edges are but finding gratitude for and knowing that it is more than OK to appreciate the abilities and limits of our bodies. I ended the class with an encouraging word to my students that even though we might leave a class and not feel sore from working out, that doesn’t mean that good progress wasn’t made. As I write these words and reflect on them, I realize that this is the same way that God works in our lives. Even though we can’t always see it, or feel His presence or His working, we can be sure that “He is faithful to complete the work He has started.” (Philippians 1:6)

The Holy Yoga Yogalates program gave me insight into the intricacies of Pilates that translated into changing my entire yoga practice. In Warrior Pose, I am more focused on engaging my core muscles. In Plank Pose, I am focused on finding my “edge” so that I can efficiently work my core muscles without over-working and injuring myself.

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I am now in a season where I need to be kinder to my belly. Last year around this time I had emergency abdominal surgery to remove my gallbladder, and my body is still healing. My abdominal muscles are not the same as they were before the surgery. It is only when I am soft with myself that the healing has room to happen. There is a lot of tightness and tension around the incisions that requires me to skip the planks in my practice more often. I struggle during my personal practice to be extremely conscious of not over-working my already strained core muscles, saying “it’s ok” to my ego when I feel imaginary eyes on me because I choose Child’s Pose instead of performing. The seed of self-love that the Holy Yoga Yogalates training planted in me is continuing to grow. I am learning slowly, day by day, to be kinder to my body, to watch and listen closely to what my body needs, where my body says its limits are on this day. Just as the Lord pursues us with the abundant love from His heart, and not based on our performance, I am learning that it is not through pushing me past my limits, but through cords of kindness that God draws us closer to himself (Hosea 11:4).

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
– 2 Corinthians 12:9-10