Archives for Yoga
I used to think that in order to accept my body, I had to lose weight. After all, I had to have a body that was worthy and deserving of acceptance. I had to have a body that was good enough to embrace and appreciate. And in its current form, it wasn't. Which, in my mind, left me with one option: hyper-focus on changing my body.
For you body acceptance might feel elusive. It might feel out of reach. It might seem overwhelming or foreign or just unnatural. Maybe you think it's insignificant or unrealistic or not feasible to actually embrace your body. Which is why I wanted to interview one of my favorite people, Anna Guest-Jelley, who's penned a powerful, personal and practical book about body acceptance called Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body a Little More Each Day. Below, Anna reveals the biggest myths about body acceptance, how yoga can help and what body acceptance looks like for her today---after trying 65 diets throughout the years.
When you've hated your body for years, the very idea that you can love it or appreciate it or even just tolerate it might seem ridiculous. It might feel overwhelming and grossly inaccessible.
Connecting to our feelings is vital. Recently, I came across this quote from the new book The Danish Way of Parenting, which is simply spot on: “How can we know what we want when we don’t know what we feel?”
Does this sound like your morning: You wake up to your alarm, grab your phone and start scrolling social media, news headlines and your inbox. You learn about something terrible or tragic, something you can't shake. Your mind focuses on the 100 tasks you need to do before 10 a.m. Or it turns to a few or a slew of negative, worrisome thoughts. Or you jump out of bed, already fearful that you forgot something. Or you sleep walk from your bed to the bathroom (and likely trip on something on your way). Or you beg the kids to start brushing their teeth, and sprint into the kitchen to start breakfast. And you already feel behind.
Working out has become synonymous with weight loss or maintenance. That is, we assume that people only work out --- that we should work out --- to lose weight or to maintain our weight. This is often why exercise is thought of as a chore. As a necessary evil. As a punishment for eating dessert or consuming too many carbs or fat grams. As a way to burn calories. And nothing else.
Here's what is so awesome about appreciating our bodies: We don't need to wait until we lose weight or change anything else about our appearance to do so. You can begin embracing your body right now. I hope these suggestions provide a helpful start:
In the beautiful book Yoga and Body Image, 25 contributors share personal stories about how yoga has helped them to accept their bodies and feel more comfortable in their own skin. They talk about how yoga has helped them to find their voice and express it. This is so important, because we often forget what movement really is (and isn't). Moving our bodies isn't about punishing ourselves for eating something "naughty" or "sinful." It isn't about checking off a chore on our to-do list. It isn't about "no pain, no gain." It has nothing to do with being miserable or being bored.
This week on "Make a Mess," my creativity blog, I wrote about looking outside myself for answers. I assumed that other people knew better what I needed and wanted. And I assumed that those people also deserved to have a say. (Many of them did not.) Unwittingly, I placed the power that belonged to me in their hands. Not only did I often remove myself from the discussion, I removed myself from the entire room. But here's a vital realization: We have the answers inside us. They are within. We just need to listen.
The beautiful and intimidating thing about yoga is that it's a time to stop and be still. It's a time to be quiet with ourselves. Which many of us don't do very often. The other types of exercises I do are mostly high intensity (which I also love). Go. Go. Go. We sprint from one exercise to another, from running the stairs to doing push-ups to doing burpees. And even though I work from home, my thoughts are usually focused on articles and ideas and errands and to-dos. Even when I'm relaxing, it's not the same as whatever happens when I'm practicing yoga.