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!
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 from Llewellyn.