By: Danielle Wilson

Just putting it on out there: I’m a big fan of Sophia Bush—actress, activist, and all around bad ass! She’s an immaculate talent on television and in film, but mostly she is an empowered woman with strong beliefs that she fearlessly uses her platform to express. I respect her tenacious attitude towards activism, as well as her open-minded approach towards growing in Self and consciousness. Because of this, I began listening to her interview-based podcast “Work in Progress with Sophia Bush” not too long ago. The first episode I tuned into featured Ilana Glazer, a woman with just as much strength and conviction towards the betterment of our society as Sophia. So many golden nuggets of wisdom were born of their conversation, I had to listen twice (and will undoubtedly listen a third time) just to take it all in!

Amidst their many progressive and compassionate views on things like politics, equality, and just humanity as a whole, Sophia shed light on her current experience with boundaries—a hot topic as of late because life, itself, is all about boundaries, and therefore it’s a word that proves to both inspire and intimidate the masses. Whether we’re setting them, respecting them, breaking them, or hating them, every internal and external interaction we experience is yet another moment we confront boundaries.

After describing a small, but significant boundary she set for herself and her fans, Sophia likened the bond we have with our bodies to a relationship with a friend: “your body stops being your friend if you don’t listen to it…You don’t have friends that you ignore all the time. If someone ignores you all the time you stop calling them. So, setting a boundary [and abiding by it] weirdly made my body go, ‘oh you’re trustworthy.’” She goes on to explain how when you build this trust with your body over time, the struggles of considering and committing to healthy boundaries becomes less of a challenging logical process, and more of an intuitive experience in which your body can guide you.

As yogis, we talk about and practice nurturing the bond between mind, body, and soul all the time. I love to remind my students to follow their first instinct when choosing which variation of a pose to land in. “Listen to your body’s call,” I’ll say, “and then celebrate yourself for being so willing to trust your intuition.” Even the mere act of getting to our mats is a sign of hearing the call from our bodies, telling us they crave movement, breath, and healing. So, the question is, will yoga aid us in sticking to our boundaries and allow us to accept and respect the boundaries of others? The answer? ABSOLUTELY!

I think what makes creating healthy habits regarding boundaries so difficult is that many of the boundaries we have were pre-set by societal norms, and the boundaries we genuinely need to set are socially taboo. This can taint the experience with feelings of fear, insecurity, unworthiness, or lack of support. Fortunately for us, yoga provides a safe space to be present with those feelings, breathe through them, understand them (if only on a soulful level), and release them. The awareness and compassion cultivated through a consistent practice allows us to tread lightly and mindfully during encounters of disregarded boundaries. We learn to take pause at the top or bottom of a breath or posture in the same way it is important to give pause to boundary conflicts, further developing positive feelings and experiences around such a touchy matter. The bottom line is, the more we practice, the more we empower ourselves in every way imaginable. We empower our body to signal us promptly when something is wrong, and a boundary needs to be set, we empower our minds to remain present and refrain from overthinking the reasons or consequences of setting boundaries, and most importantly, we empower our soul to be and express freely!

The word boundary coins an air of restraint or limitation, which is partially what makes defining them so intimidating, but when we create healthy boundaries around the way we exist and interact with ourselves, our people, and the life we are blessed to live, we make space for our spirit to flourish. Standing strong in our boundaries will magnetize people who respect them and repel those who don’t, filling our time and energy with like-minded and -hearted beings—a situation which encourages growth! With boundaries set in place, our minds, bodies, and souls can utilize the healthy and safe space created to investigate new and exciting states of being, basking in wonder and gratitude, rather than suffocating in the negative energy that seeps through the cracks of a boundary unhinged.

Have you been proactive in defining healthy boundaries in your life? Do you stand your ground in maintaining those boundaries when met with conflict? Can you navigate when people (or you, yourself) attempt to disregard or manipulate your boundaries? 

These are some tough, yet transformative goals to achieve! Just as life slips up and down a rollercoaster’s track, so does the instillation of any new pattern or lesson. So, be compassionate with and forgiving of yourself in the process. Remember that, as Sophia pointed out, each little step towards setting and respecting your own boundaries builds trust with your body and makes future boundaries a bit easier to define. And if you find yourself in the ravine of your own efforts, come to yoga! Your mat is one of the safest places you can go to regain your power and reclaim your boundaries.

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