Let me start out by saying I am not known for my positive body image. But lately I’ve been on a yoga streak: I have practiced yoga just about every day for the past two months. Whether or not you consider that to be a lot, I can tell you with certainty that it has been a transformative and insightful journey, especially when it comes to how I feel about my body.
I am now convinced that, if you want to learn to love your body, the only thing better than yoga is lots and lots of yoga! I have become attuned to my body in so many new ways. I am learning to appreciate everything it does for me, rather than pass judgment about the clothes it doesn’t look good in. Here are a few of my favorite ways that yoga has taught me to love my body.
Since the beginning of my ‘yoga streak’, I have become more attuned to my body than I ever thought possible. I didn’t even know I was unaware of my body until all of a sudden I wasn’t anymore. It’s hard to recognize a disconnection with your body, because, well, it’s your body. It’s there; you can touch it, feel it moving. How can you be unaware of your own physical self? Well, once you start to check in with your body more frequently through a committed yoga practice, you will realize just how easy it is. Yoga calls on every single part of your body. I have recently made acquaintance with my big toes. I always knew they were there, and I even thought I was using them, but my newfound awareness of their potential has enhanced my ability to harness my body’s power. Awareness brings opportunity. The opportunity to live a more yogic life. And who wouldn’t want that? Become aware and love your body.
And I don’t mean in size. Every single time I am on my yoga mat I notice a positive change in my practice. Sometimes it’s small, like a deeper forward fold or softer hopping in a vinyasa. And sometimes it’s huge. Yesterday, I did my first true, unsupported headstand! No matter the size of the improvement, I can tell you with unbounded enthusiasm that it feels amazing. Seeing real, consistent improvements in my body has been a confidence boost like no other I have ever experienced. When my legs lifted smoothly into tripod yesterday, I almost fell right back down to the earth I was so proud of what my awesome body had just accomplished.
Over the past couple of months, I have watched my body with sheer fascination. The things our bodies are able to accomplish through yoga are amazing! How many people do you know who can balance their entire body-weight in an arm balance? When is the last time you saw someone on the street wrap their arms and legs up into eagle and balance on one deeply bent (sometimes screaming) leg? Most of the people I know can’t even touch their toes let alone stand on their head. Lately, I can barely contain my awe for what my body is learning to do. It doesn’t matter if I’m doing advanced poses or just getting into a deeper expression of a pose I have been doing for years. Our bodies are strong and flexible and beautiful! We should be worshipping them, not ridiculing them.
Through yoga, we are able to gain a true appreciation for what our bodies can do because we are able to witness their full potential. Most people will never discover the body’s aptitude for balance, strength and flexibility like a yogi. Most people will never feel the rinse of a deep twist or the energy of a strong warrior. But we, as yogis, experience every day the wonder within our bodies. Once exposed to this, how can you help but be thankful? Thankful that you have a body that gives you so much? Our bodies deserve a daily thank you for all they do for us, not just during our practice, but throughout our hectic lives.
This past weekend, I traveled to New York City to visit some friends and I had the pleasure of practicing yoga at The Laughing Lotus (I’ll try not to get too off topic by rambling about how much I loved it). I took an inversions class that was full of some very experienced yogis. Handstands were child’s play for these astounding people. I watched in admiration as these strong, brave yogis flowed into postures of which I had only dreamed. An overwhelming sense of promise came over me. This much potential lies within our bodies? My yoga practice has never felt so inspired. My body has never felt so inspired. I have never loved my body more.
Do You Love Your Body?
Regardless if you do or if you WANT to. Yoga will help you get there. Commit to a more consistent yoga practice. I promise you won’t regret it. You will forge a new relationship with your body that will bring you strength, joy and pride. You will do poses you were never able to do before. You will come deeper into your practice and yourself. And once you get there, you’ll never look back.