Yoga and Body Positivity
Practicing yoga is a beautiful practice between you and you alone. There are no scores you need to keep, no finish line to jump through, or competitors you need to defeat. Instead, it's a lifelong practice of accepting and understanding yourself. It's an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone while being graceful and kind to yourself.
Each pose and sequence is an individual experience that teaches you about your physical, emotional and mental state. It's a time for self-reflection in your mind and body, resulting in appreciation. Think of each time you push yourself to try that balancing pose again even if you feel embarrassed you fell, or each time you take a rest when you need it, even if the rest of the class is flowing through Sun Bs. Both are equally important! Yoga builds character to teach the sweet spot between effort and ease.
Be Curious. Not Judgemental.
It's human nature to be judgemental of your own body appearance. Unfortunately, most of us are our own worst enemies. We are constantly being shown the "perfect" bodies through social media, billboards, and magazine covers that are unrealistic and unattainable. We're not Britney Spears, Doja Cat, or K-Pop stars, and that's more than okay. That would be a lot of pressure to live up to, don't you think?
There also tends to be the misconception that you have to have the ideal "yoga body" to practice yoga. We fell prey to this mentality before. But we are unlearning this and we know yoga is for all bodies, and while we still like vegan food, ab workouts, oat milk, and kombucha, too... We know that you don't have to fit inside one box to practice yoga. You will see as you connect with other yogis during your journey that yoga is the most inclusive physical practice there is. You don't need to fit a stereotype to enjoy yoga. We need to actively challenge that perception so everyone can reap the benefits.
The beauty of yoga is that it is a way of life for ALL. You can practice yoga regardless of your ethnicity, gender, weight, abilities, age, etc. It's a lifelong practice of self-acceptance, mental and physical well-being, and profound personal growth. There's no denying that all those things are human rights for us all.
Every person can benefit if they give it a shot and make a conscious effort to leave the "ideal yogi" rhetoric in the past. We're still working on battling our own intrusive thoughts, but progress beats perfection. The only thing that matters is discovery and connection through your own personal practice.
Feeling at Home in your Body
Start your practice by focusing on your breath (we like Ujjayi) and acknowledging the presence of intrusive thoughts without judgment. Be aware of what you feel in each pose and validate your emotions. Observe how your muscles release with each exhalation and what flares up during different poses.
Observe how your body moves and the creative ideas your mind thinks of with no judgment. If you don't like what you're thinking, it's okay. Accept that it came and went. You may even need to accept that they sometimes stay. After all, we have both light and dark within us all. When you are ready, make a conscious effort to move on to a thought that better serves you. Maybe something along the lines of, "I'm awesome for taking the time to practice self-care. I deserve this." Or "Damn, I'm rocking these yoga pants today!" Or “I release control today and put my trust in the universe.”
Whatever your self-talk love language is, shower yourself with it! This may feel foreign at first, but the more you practice it, the easier it will become. You'll be a pro at acknowledging your thoughts during your practice in no time and even develop this skill in your normal everyday life.
When you are in your pose, pay attention to the incredible things your body does for you! Notice how you can balance, twist, fold, hold, and bend. Document your progress, take photos and make notes after each session. Even if it feels like it's going slowly, you'll look back and be shocked at how far you've actually come.
Remember that pose that felt impossible to do, but now have enough confidence to try it even when you fall out? Remember how you couldn't touch your shins on your forward bends, but now you touch the floor! When you appreciate your body while on your mat, you will begin to change the way you look at your body.
Preach while you practice
Misguided negative beliefs about ourselves can be transformed by the teachings of acceptance, compassion, and self-discipline that yoga presents.
We hope that after some practice, the main priority will be to focus less on what our bodies look like and how it feels! Who cares if there is cellulite on our thighs? See how strong it feels in that pose? Look at those muscles being built day by day. Look how my posture has improved with grace and balance.
The first step in having a positive body image is the way we talk to ourselves. Incorporate positive self-talk in each yoga session, during the beginning and at the end. Make that an essential part of your practice, and see how far you bloom, little flower. Instead of asking, "How can I use yoga to look better?" Maybe try, "How can I practice yoga to empower my body?"
Changing your vocabulary, even slightly, can significantly impact your way of thinking and your perceptions in life. Most of what you perceive in life comes from within you. So shower it with love, empower with strength, and heal with compassion.