Anya means “grace”, and nobody embodies Anya better than you do. For this instalment of #herbyAnya, we sat down with three members of our community to learn what living gracefully means to them. From embracing their bodies to motherhood and ageing elegantly, these women have beautiful insights to share.
First up is Suan (@_suans), a health researcher with a mindful approach to movement. Her workouts of choice are yoga and calisthenics, as they help her cultivate a mind-body connection. Besides strengthening her body, both of these exercises ground her in the art of focusing on the physical experience.
The start of something new
Like most of us, Suan didn’t always have this relationship with exercise—she had to build it herself. “I began working out because I had always wanted to be more athletic as a child, but I was very focused on doing well in school,” Suan shares with us. “I prioritised studying over sports. As an adult, I wanted to take things into my own hands and explore aspects of strength and fitness that I’d foregone in my younger days.”
Suan began “seriously exploring” a more active lifestyle during her final year of undergraduate studies. She started with running on the treadmill and lifting light weights at her university gym twice a week. Although starting her fitness routine was exciting and fun, Suan knew that maintaining it was where it would really count.
But, she tells us, “the process of becoming more active is just that—a process. Over the years, I’ve experienced plenty of ebbs and flows in my fitness journey, with fluctuations in frequency, intensity and preferences in activities. I’ve learnt to take it in stride and just enjoy the journey.”
A stronger, kinder version of herself
To Suan, enjoying the journey means concentrating on how her body feels during a workout, rather than how she looks.
“Working out has helped me cultivate a more nuanced sense of my own body image,” she shares, “through a deliberate focus on strength, skills and feeling good in my body rather than skinniness, aesthetics and social desirability.”
However, maintaining that kind body image is “really, really, really hard”. She also shares how body acceptance, in itself, is a journey. It involves hard work, and a conscious decision we make every single day.
“My closest friends will tell you that I still feel insecure about plenty of aspects of my body and how it looks,” Suan says.
“That said, I work pretty hard to be accepting of my body and also be grateful for all the things it allows me to do—including lifting weights, walking, cycling, practising yoga, and—most importantly—hugging the people I care about.”
What a heartwarming approach to movement! And this is certainly a reflection of how Suan embodies Anya as well. She says, “To me, living gracefully means being kind and empathetic to others as well as yourself.”
A lifelong choice
Besides working out for a better body image and a stronger mind-body connection, Suan leads an active lifestyle to lay the foundation for ageing gracefully.
“I work out because I am committed to having a strong, healthy body that will serve me well as I age,” she shares.
Having grown up in a family that values good health, Suan believes that age is no barrier to physical activity.
“There are so many ways to be active and so many different activities and intensities to pick from—everything from hikes and walks to swimming and HIIT. It’s really exciting that we have these choices, and that we can elect to take up the activities that work best with our bodies, personal interests, and schedules.”
With a smile, she adds,
“I don’t think there’s anything I can’t imagine doing when I’m 60.”
Did Suan’s story resonate with you? Tell us what living gracefully means to you in the comments below, or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.