When people talk about connecting to their bodies, you might be wondering, umm, what the heck does that mean? what the heck does that even look like? Because if you’ve had an adversarial relationship with your body, embracing and connecting to it feels very foreign—maybe even impossible or ridiculous. Which is why I love sharing actual practices with you, actual actions you can take—small, simple actions that make a significant impact.
Anna Guest-Jelley’s beautiful book Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body a Little More Each Day is filled with such practices (along with her powerful personal story and lots of body positive wisdom). (So is her website.) Below are three practices from Anna’s book, which you can try at any time—no changes in appearance required!
1. Focus on your feet. Move your feet in any way that feels good. When you’re done, let your feet relax and “grow still.” Think of one thing—any thing—that you can thank your feet for. Thank you, feet, for taking me on a fun walk. Thank you for grounding me in yoga this morning. Thank you for driving the car to the grocery store, stepping on the gas and break pedals.
Then move up your body. Think of one thing you can thank your legs for, your hips, your belly, your back, hands, arms, shoulders, neck and finally your head.
2. Ask yourself: “What qualities does gratitude have for me? What color is it? What temperature? How does it feel?” Next visualize filling any body part with the color/temperature/feeling you just mentioned. This helps your body perceive “the sensations of gratitude with greater ease and clarity.” Keep doing this until your entire body is filled with the color/temperature/feeling of gratitude.
3. Visualize someone or something in front of you that you feel immense gratitude for. This might be your spouse, a pet or even a tree. Next visualize your own heart. Visualize a ribbon connecting your heart to the person or thing you’re grateful for. Ask yourself: “Where in my body do I feel gratitude for this person/thing?” Then ask yourself: “How could I magnify, or intensify, this feeling of gratitude?” For instance, maybe you need to lengthen your spine. Maybe you need to breathe more deeply. Maybe you need to relax your forehead. Whatever it is, do that.
“Fold your hands in front of your heart and bow to the person/object in front of you, thanking that person/object for its presence in your life.” Gently move the ribbon back into your heart.
Next visualize yourself in front of you. Go through the same process: “Visualize a ribbon connecting your actual heart to the heart of the you in front of you. Return to the location of gratitude in your body that you’d just found, and extend that gratitude to yourself. Take the earlier action to nurture that feeling of gratitude even more.” Finally, invite not just the ribbon but also yourself into your heart. “After all, you were there all along; sometimes we just need a reminder.”
What I love about practices like these is that you don’t need to change a thing in order to embrace your body, in order to connect to it. There’s no specific number on the scale you need to reach. There’s no specific clothing size you need to start wearing. There’s no diet, no cleanse. There is nothing you need to do before you start. You can simply start right now. Exactly as you are.