How hard is it for you to love your body? What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see a beautiful divine reflection of all the miracles in the universe? Can you see what is beautiful and unique about you?
Or are you buying into what our culture and society have programmed us to believe? Have you succumbed to thinking your thighs are too fat, your belly is too big, or that you’re having a bad hair day?
We have done a huge disservice to each other.
We have created this idea that what we look like is more important than who we are and what we have to offer the world. We have chosen to make our physical appearance the main focus of our existence, rather than putting a premium on being intelligent, academic, outspoken, and compassionate.
I distinctly recall a time in which my mother was asked to identify which of her daughters was “the smart one” and which was “the pretty one.” I also remember how desperately I wanted her to say that I was the pretty one.
My mother responded by saying both of her daughters were brilliant and beautiful. She later pulled me aside to tell me that the question itself presented such a limited way of thinking about women.
And yet, as a culture and society, we still continue to perpetuate this limited way of thinking all the time. We still belittle, judge, and compartmentalize each other by putting one another (and ourselves) into narrow, and often suffocating, categories.
Despite our culture’s need to categorize our diverse and complex humanity, I sincerely hope the concept that one can only be either pretty or smart is on its way to becoming a relic of a past era.
I have been blessed with a bigger body.
No matter how much I starve myself and punish my body for being less than society’s ideal, it still continues to serve me well.
I can be a size 6 at best if I starve myself, exercise four hours a day and obsess about everything I eat. I know this is true because I did it for years and years. I also know that one of the major problems with this approach is that it leaves me with absolutely no time for anything else.
If I made the choice to focus exclusively on matching society’s perception of how to be “the pretty one,” I’d have to be willing to sacrifice my ability to be present with my family, my students, and ultimately, myself.
Choosing to obsess about my appearance and the size of my jeans leaves no space for serving those I love or partaking in the joy of being alive.
Rather than fitting society’s idea of “the pretty one,” I want to be fit and healthy at any size.~Dianne Bondy
When I look at my family and our family tree, I can see that we are all built bigger. I can also see we have been blessed with longevity and health well into old age (my family members and relatives have all lived well into their 80s and 90s!).
My doctor is always surprised at how low my blood pressure is and how much yoga and exercise I do. Society may have many misconceptions when observing me externally, but internally, I represent the truth of who I really am: a healthy, strong, resilient, competent, and beautiful woman.
My yoga practice has taught me many things.
When I set aside all the messages that our single-minded culture has tried to teach us, sit in stillness, and listen to my heart, I know that these limited perceptions, these destructive categories, and ideas like “we are not good enough just as we are,” are simply not true.
My yoga teaches me that we are all divine beings just as we are. If we focus on what’s really important, like the gift of breath and the ability of our bodies to sustain and support us, we start seeing that our outward appearance simply isn’t an accurate portrayal of the totality of our existence.
Your body is a beautiful instrument.
Your body is the only way in which you can experience the world. It is the divine entity that houses your soul and helps illuminate your mind. It deserves your love and respect, rather than your criticism and hatred.
What if you choose a conscious life, rather than a life of obsession and chasing a goal that may not even be your own to begin with? What if you choose, instead, to practice yoga as a pathway to enlightenment, and used your yoga practice as a tool to connect with your true and highest self?
I’m willing to bet you’ll end up learning to love your whole self — your mind, your spirit, and your body.
Yoga doesn't criticize, hate, or judge—people do that! And yes, sometimes people use yoga to defend bad behavior, perpetuate limited ways of thinking, and belittle others through senseless categorization.
Start by loving yourself.
If you truly want to heal your body, you must learn to start by loving yourself. In order to love yourself fully, you must start by being compassionate with yourself.
You must look beyond the co-opted messages, the limited ways of thinking, the stereotypes, and the categorizations that will only ever hold you back. These limitations are perpetuated by society, but they do not have to be perpetuated by you!
Instead of giving in to the pressures outside of yourself, choose to follow the path in your own heart. By going deeper within and by connecting with your inner self rather than obsessing with your external self, you will undoubtedly start to see yourself as the profound miracle that you are.
Coming to see yourself in this limitless way is the secret to compassionately loving, and ultimately healing, your body, mind, and spirit.