As I prepare for the launch of The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga (on sale now), I’ve invited some friends and colleagues to write articles relating to the theme of the book’s subtitle: Because yoga is for every body.
It’s one way of helping to smash the image and idea that you need to be thin, flexible, young and female to practice yoga. You can read all the articles in this series here.
Anna has appeared on YLB before – writing on a similar theme: All the Curvy Ladies do Practice Yoga. In this article, she looks at how yoga has helped her body image. ~ KL
By guest author Anna Guest-Jelley, Curvy Yoga
When I began practicing yoga in the late ’90s, it didn’t occur to me that yoga would have any impact on my body image.
In fact, I wouldn’t have wanted that at the time because I was spending my days bouncing between diets, waiting for the day I’d finally have the perfect body I’d always wanted.
Who needs a positive body image when they have the body of their dreams, right?
What I got instead, much to my initial chagrin and later delight, was feeling much better about the body I do have. This showed up for me in five ways:
1. Getting to know my body:
Through asking me, over and over, to notice what was happening in my body during a particular pose, yoga gave me better awareness of what was happening in my body.
2. Identifying my body’s needs:
The better I understood what I was feeling, the easier it was to know what my body needed and when. This could be a drink of water, sunshine, a walk with my dogs, a snuggle or any other number of things.
3. Meeting my body’s needs:
Once I started to know what my needs were, I could begin to meet them. So instead of either not noticing or ignoring the fact that I realllllly needed a break from work, I could get up and walk around the house for a bit.
4. Rebuilding self-trust:
Every time I identified and met my own needs, I rebuilt my trust in myself and my body bit-by-bit. This process felt so slow in the moment, but in retrospect it is amazing how far I have come.
5. Befriending myself:
Getting to know and like your own body and self is not unlike starting a new friendship with someone else. The more I got to know and trust myself, the easier it was to give myself a break and both see and treat myself with more kindness.
Yoga is not a quick way to improve your body image, but it is a concrete tool you can use on your journey, adding in whatever other support you might also need.
And the best part? It’s ongoing; the more you stay with it, the more your relationship with yourself grows and deepens over time. What a beautiful thing!
The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga is specifically written to break down these pre-conceptions that many people have about yoga and help people make it to their first yoga class. Pre-orders are now open and you can find out more about the book here.
Anna Guest-Jelley is the founder of Curvy Yoga, a training and inspiration portal for yogis of all shapes and sizes.
She is also the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body, forthcoming October 2014 from Llewellyn.