What’s the connection between yoga and body image? This study showed practicing yoga was associated with higher levels of body satisfaction. Furthermore, yoga practitioners with prior low body satisfaction also showed greater increases body satisfaction. So how can our yoga practice help us feel more confident in and about our bodies?
Yoga and body image
Body image relates to the way we objectify our own bodies, looking at it from an ‘outside-in’ perspective. A powerful alternative to our focus on body image is that of our own embodiment. Embodiment is a term which refers to the subjective experience of living inside our bodies, from an ‘inside-out’ perspective.
Yoga, with its philosophies of peace, self-compassion, and acceptance, is a path to easing the endless analysing and criticising of our bodies. It helps us to transform our harsh inner critic, into feeling fully present and appreciative of what our bodies can do. Yoga enables you to practice peace within and strengthen your relationship with your body.
Yoga is a beautiful tool that offers practical strategies to inhabit our body differently. It can help people to change the relationship they have with their body and assist people recovering from chronic dieting and an eating disorder.
Rather than fighting against our body, the practice of yoga develops a gentle way to get back in touch and listen to her.
It can bring awareness to the present and allow us to notice physical sensations, our breath, and how we view our body.
It helps us to experience our body with mindfulness and self-compassion; rather than viewing our body with objectification, dissatisfaction and judgement.
From here we can slowly begin to reconnect and strengthen the relationship between our mind and body that dieting and the pursuit of weight loss steals.
We all have different bodies built for different things, and yoga has poses for all body types and abilities.
The goal of yoga isn’t to be perfect at every pose; the goal is to just notice and be aware. You begin to appreciate the way your particular body works, and that it will be at a different place tomorrow, next week and next month.
You begin to get stronger, more flexible, and certain poses become a little more accessible. The same things begin to happen in the relationship with your body.
Your body image becomes stronger and healthier, and your spirits are higher. Those warm, peaceful feelings of acceptance, gratitude and self-love, slowly but surely begin to strengthen inside you.
Your yoga practice, just like cultivating a healthy body image, is a journey. You will have days that are easier and more compassionate than others, but you are working toward feeling whole, happy and supported, regardless of your external body.
Do you practice yoga? I’d love to know how it makes you feel and if it’s helped how you feel about your body.
If this is something that you need help with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Human bodies are changing. The average size woman is now between a size 16 and 18, according to research from Washington State University. Yet, plus-size women only account for, on average, 1 to 2% of the bodies represented in mainstream media.
It can feel isolating to go through the body positivity journey when every time you step outside, turn on the TV or check social media, you are hit with a continual wave of messages that reinforce that looking “hot” defines your value on this planet.
While there’s no way to completely avoid diet culture messages, you can control what messages you consume on social media.
Social media can be dangerous – studies have linked Instagram especially to disordered eating, depression and anxiety. Studies have shown exposing people to body-positive messages and diverse images of beauty are one of the fastest ways to improve body confidence.
Consuming more positive social media influences can change how you perceive the world, and can actually help you create a positive body image for yourself.
Here’s a list of women that are pushing back against our culture’s obsession with thinness and unrealistic standards of beauty.
Because the average size woman is getting bigger and plus size is not a niche market anymore – it’s the norm.
There’s a common misconception that body acceptance means you will give up and not care about your health anymore. When in fact, the reverse is true. Body acceptance is good for us.
Body acceptance and health
Body acceptance means, accepting one’s body regardless of not being completely satisfied with all aspects of it.
We now have solid evidence to support the idea that body acceptance and body love are linked to shaping a healthy lifestyle.
A paper, published in the International Journal of Obesity, that looked at the lives of 14,000 people revealed; “acceptance of one’s shape would contribute more positively to the health and lives of those with body sizes outside of the realms of perceived ‘normality’ and social acceptability”.
“When comfort is found and a positive relationship is established with one’s body, fear of judgement dissipates. Once they are liberated from this prejudice, they are much more likely to explore a healthy relationship with their bodies. This naturally leads to a positive interest in healthy habits”.
When people living in larger bodies are mocked and ridiculed – which they often are when giving exercise a shot or eating unhealthy food. Body acceptance offers a space where those people are allowed to be comfortable with their bodies. And to work from there – whether that means maintaining the same weight or changing it.
Interestingly, the study also found “consistent evidence that ‘perceiving’ oneself as being overweight was associated with increased weight gain”.
Evidence that feeling overweight – whether or not it is true – can cause people to comfort-eat to relieve stress.
The message is clear: put a laser focus on people’s bodies, talk about them constantly and frame their weight as a problem, and they will respond with a stress activity such as overeating.
The way we talk about body weight and the way we portray fat in society is something we need to reconsider.
There are ways of talking about it and encouraging people to make healthy changes to their lifestyle that don’t portray fat as being the worst thing in the world they could be.
My mission is to educate and empower women to know that they are worthy, valuable and just as much of a woman no matter their size or shape.
You are not broken and you do not need fixing.
If you want to change your body (and mindset) long-term, you must do it from a place of kindness and compassion towards yourself and others.
If you have been trying to hate yourself into change, how far has that got you? You can’t hate yourself thin! If it worked, it would have worked by now. Shame and blame will only get you so far. Like any relationship, it is complex, multi-factorial, and takes work to change.
Thanks to social media we’re slowly changing our opinion on standards of beauty. Body positivity is everywhere across platforms like Instagram these days. And it’s helping women all shapes and sizes to accept and love themselves as they are. But what is body positivity and where does it come from?
What is Body Positivity?
For most women feeling positive about their bodies can seem like an impossible task.
These days “body positive” Instagrammers are celebrating their bodies exactly as they are. It’s a refreshing change. No photoshop, no filters, and no altering. #bopo
It’s a much-needed change.
However, when you scrawl through Instagram’s body positive photos, you can’t help but notice one thing. Most of the women have a “socially acceptable”, thin body.
Of course all women deserve a safe and supportive space where they navigate accepting their bodies. Everyone’s experience of body hate is painful to them regardless of what size they’re living in. I would never take that away or dimish someone elses experience (mine included). Especially, when it may also involve dieting, disordered eating or potentially a life threatening eating disorder.
It’s important for all of us to understand where “true body positivity” has come from.
Most of us are completely unaware that it’s a lot more than taking a selfie of a couple of small fat rolls on our stomachs and splashing it around Instagram. At it’s heart, this not what the term “body positivity” is truly about.
It’s actually a really interesting part of our feminist history.
Will the real body positivity please stand up?
Body positivity may seem like a modern invention, but it all started with middle-class feminists from the 1850s through to 1890s. This is deemed the pioneer of body activism of today. Known as “first-wave feminism”.
From here fat activism and size acceptance in the 20th century became the focus. Today’s body positivity has its roots in activism and feminism of the late 1960s. Known as “second-wave feminism”.
Instead of arguing that all bodies are beautiful, activists protested for the rights of one particular group of people: Fat people.
Body positive activist and mental health advocate Lexie Manion explains, “Body positivity is a movement focused on shining the spotlight onto marginalized bodies — people of colour, LGBT, disabled, fat, etc. — because they are not well represented in the media.”
Marginalised bodies, including “fat bodies, bodies of colour, queer bodies, disabled bodies and bodies that bear the battle scars of diseases”.
In 1967 Lew Louderback’s published an essay titled, “More People Should Be Fat”.
One of the core principles of NAAFA, and fat activism, is that many of our beliefs and the information that is spread about fatness and health,is wrong. Instead of treating fatness as a sign of poor health or lack of willpower and laziness, fat activists encourage a Health At Every Size approach.
Health At Every Size
Under this framework, it’s not the shape and weight of your body that matters. Everyone is encouraged to engage in “general wellness”, by way of a healthy lifestyle and enjoyable, balanced eating habits as measures of health, rather than weight or body mass index (BMI).
The BMI is a flawed, out dated system that only tells you if your weight is average for your height. It doesn’t take into account above-average amounts of lean muscle mass. It assumes everyone has the same percentage of lean tissue and fat tissue. Therein lies the main problem with using BMI for athletes, body builders, or even people with above average musculature.
Body positivity and self-love
For women whose bodies do fall within societies narrow ideal of what is acceptable, it’s important to simply acknowledge the difference between “body positivity” and “self-love”. Sophia Carter-Kahn, co-host of the She’s All Fat podcast says, “Body positivity to me is facing outward, and self-love is facing inward”.
Acknowledging the difference helps marginalised bodies to claim the space they’ve long been chased out of. Working on self-acceptance and self-love, and ultimately knowing your self-worth does not depend on a number.
Ultimately the end goal is to open up and make enough space for all bodies, regardless of what people look like. But particularly the ones that have been forced to hide or sent the message that they’re not acceptable as they are.
If you’re struggling to accept and feel comfortable in your body, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here>>