Don’t for a second think that yoga is about doing all those fancy yoga poses. If that’s what you’re being told to aim for, please kindly disagree with whoever is telling you that and move on. Yoga is far from how you look and all about how you feel. Use these tips below and join me for a yoga for better body image flow that will challenge how you view your body and draw your attention to far more important things – like how you feel.
What do yoga and body image have to do with each other?
Everything and nothing! Because yoga is actually focused so little on what you look like, and more on how you feel, it draws your attention away from your body image. “But yoga is about being able to do the poses,” you may be thinking. Nope, it’s not about doing the poses. The physical practice of yoga, doing the asanas, is one part of yoga of 8 limbs of the entire practice of yoga. And even when doing the poses, it’s still not about how you look. If you’re uncomfortable doing a pose just to do it how you think it should look then you’re doing it wrong for your body.
Separating what you look like in yoga has everything to do with body image. It stops you from viewing yourself from the outside and instead from the inside.
4 Ways Yoga Improves Body Image
1. Connects Your Inner & Outer Body
Your inner body is how you feel, how your breath moves through your body, your muscles, and joints. Your outer body is what you see in the mirror, your skin, your hair, bumps and rolls, smooth and rough surfaces, the whole thing. Since yoga typically focuses on mindful movement means that your attention is drawn not to how you look outside but the feeling of what’s happening under the surface. Does a certain position feel too tight on your hips? Can you notice that your hips open as you move? Does it help if you move more slowly?
These kinds of questions draw your attention away from your body image. That’s not to say that yoga encourages you to ignore your body image. It simply encourages you to look and notice beyond your image. It proves to you that your physical body is so much more than just how you look. Your looks do not limit you and the more you’re able to see this, the more that you’re proving to yourself that your looks are just that, looks.
2. Practices Presence
A good chunk of body image is focused on being worried about how others will view us. But when you’re present that feeling disappears. Being present allows you to just be with who you are. Worries disapparate, even if just for a moment, and your body image means nothing when you’re in the present moment.
3. Develops Appreciation
Through movement, it becomes much easier to focus on what your body can do for you. Even if you have limitations, movement still continues to show you what joy you can get from movement. And since movement can be done despite what you look like, it’s just another way yoga moves your attention away from body image and instead to how your body feels. Being able to feel your body do things physically and most likely improve as you practice helps to grow a deep appreciation for your body that is totally separate from your body image. The more you can appreciate your body and all it does for you, the less important body image becomes.
4. Focuses on Possibilities
Many people don’t do yoga because they don’t think they’re good enough, they’re not flexible or strong enough, and brush it off as not being for them. But the beauty of yoga is that it is literally for everyone. Yoga is not about doing the fancy poses and standing on your head. Yoga does not encourage you to focus on your limitations. Instead, it encourages you to take note of them and move forward in a way that’s comfortable for you whether that’s accepting that a certain pose simply isn’t great for your body, by taking a different variation or introducing props as assistance.
Yoga is not about finding a limitation and ignoring it. It’s about moving around it or finding a way through it peacefully and gracefully. By focusing on possibilities instead of limitations you’re proving to yourself that your body is far more capable than you may have originally believed. This lesson is beneficial for body image too. Instead of focusing on the limitations that you place on yourself for how you look, can you instead see them as possibilities?
Body Image Yoga Flow
Join me in a 16-minute yoga to boost body image practice that will move your focus away from how to look and instead to how you feel so that you can walk off of your mat confidently with reminders to take with you throughout your day.