We Who Have Our Breath

February 22, 2021
The Yoga and Body Image Coalition is a 2021 Featured NEDAwareness Week Partner.  The following is a YBIC National Eating Disorders Awareness Week post that highlights how the practice of yoga can be an integral component in the effective treatment of and on-going recovery from eating disorders and disordered eating. The shares included are from those who have first-hand experience with disordered eating or from those who are called to share their body acceptance journeys.
We Who Have Our Breath
(listen to poem audio)

Come, gather ‘round.

You who is me,
pull up a chair.
There’s a plush, velveteen one to my left,
and a well-worn, loved one to my right.
This seat at the table
is our birthright.
I know you’re ashamed.
I know you feel unworthy.
Me too.
But the universal family says:
We deeply belong —
We to each other, and us to this table,
this circle
of siblings and friends,
of ancestors and of generations to come.
There is no shame at this meal.
No blame.
Only us
in all our messiness,
raising our teacups
to conjure courage.
We whose response to frustration and chaos
was once self hatred;
whose urge
was once to starve, slash, sedate and purge —
we who tediously, tentatively, tenderly
practice each day
to fully inhabit these beautiful sacks
of bones and blood.
Embodied, empathic,
earthly bodies in self-doubt and pain:
you are seen.
We who sit here before this abundance,
we look back from where we’ve come:
Hindsight vision, 20–20 in the rearview mirror,
and miraculously we can see the gifts,
despite the devastating horror.
We who gather,
who still have our breath —
whose lungs haven’t succumbed to a virus;
whose arteries still pulse
despite the age-old bootprint of systemic hate
upon our necks;
whose voice boxes still make sound;
whose invocations even yet resound.
Let us sit ‘round this table and pray
for all we’ve lost, and all we must mourn.
We are gathered here
to use our breath, voices and stories;
Our tales, poetry, cries, and wails
to honor the past
and co-create our future.
We who still have our breath,
Let us con/spire.
CON – together /
SPIRE – we breathe.
Let us breathe together:
Let the belly soften;
Let the breath soothe our rattled nerves
and ripple outward
to tend a fritzed and aching world.
You, me, we are important, perfect
parts of the larger whole.
As above, so below.
Let us bend down
and touch the ground with humility,
And rise up
raising our arms with dignity.
We who have our breath
let us co-narrate new futures.
For individual bodies,
for the collective body.
Let us imagine new and bright landscapes
where we, each of us, feels at home,
safe and secure
in our bodies,
in our communities.
Thank you for circling as kin:
For staring down our suffering and sadness.
For taking steps toward healing.
You are me, and I am you.
We need each other.
Let us toast —
with appreciation and gratitude
for the self-same breath that threads us —
To all those gathered,
past, present and future.
Together, let us breathe
And our ailing world back to life
in its beauty and terror, both.

Erica Morton Magill

Erica Morton Magill is a writer and teacher. She trained as a social scientist at UC Berkeley, and for over ten years Erica worked with The Art of Yoga Project, a non-profit bringing contemplative practices to incarcerated and at-risk youth in the San Francisco Bay Area. She composed the organization’s guidebook on teaching trauma-informed yoga and crafted an extensive curriculum. She’s a co-founder of The Social Imaginary, a non-profit dedicated to fostering the conditions for a more equitable and interdependent social landscape. Erica currently co-owns and operates Lost Angels Yoga Club (LAYC), a yoga school based in LA yet unbound by geographical borders. She co-authors the bi-weekly LAYC Almanac, exploring rhythmic, vital living at the liminal, crusty edges where moon cycles, movement, tarot, psychedelics, science, breath, art and the occult converge. She is currently working towards her MA in Traditions of Yoga and Meditation at SOAS University of London.
Socialinstagram.com/layoga.club (@layoga.club)

Writing: http://layc.substack.com
Social: instagram.com/layoga.club (@layoga.club)

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