Yoga and Body Image
by Keelie Webb
Body image is how you see yourself and how you feel about it. Take a moment before reading any further and make a list of adjectives to describe your body. Go on, don’t be scared…
Now pick your favorite asana and take a picture of yourself…
Did you do it? Analyze your list and photo with a gentle heart. For far too long, we have been bombarded with mass media messages and images that tell us to look a certain way. The yoga movement has not been able to escape these patterns and it has become very apparent to me that many people who are interested in the benefits of yoga are too scared to show up—this is mostly because they have preconceived notions of what they should look like or what knowledge they should have before attending their first class.
Here’s a glimpse into my journey: I began taking pictures of myself in a variety of asanas and posting them on social media last year. At moments, I felt fear. I felt egocentric. I felt anxiety. This has strengthened my practice and my ability to feel comfortable in my own skin. Analyzing my image and my feelings about the way I look has taught me to appreciate (rather than scrutinize) where I am in my daily practice. From there, it has taught me to appreciate the beauty in others without that nagging, jealous, yearning urge to look like them. It has given me a very brave talking point from which I can begin to encourage others to celebrate their physical and mental body. Before I started practicing yoga I thought I knew and loved myself, but my exploration has truly offered a deeper layer of understanding. I am so proud to be me, to look like me, to feel like me.
My advice for you: SHOW UP! Get on your mat and practice like you mean it, from the inside out. Let go of body image concerns that are swirling about in your head. Notice the next time that you think or say critical words to yourself. Label it as negative self talk, and then let it go. Notice the next time you feel jealous that someone next to you can achieve a certain pose that you have difficulty with. Label it as jealousy, and then let it go. Learn about whatever it is that is holding you back from truly appreciating and honoring your body, and then let it go. An uplifting yoga practice that strengthens you physically and mentally is yours for the taking.
When we asked yoga teacher Keelie Webb if she'd like to write a guest blog post she enthusiastically said yes and suggested Yoga and Body Image. Keelie has a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, a Master of Arts in Cross-Cultural and International Education. Her thesis focused on Identity Development Among Hispanic American Adolescents.
Keelie teaches the Thursday at 6:00 AM Rise and Shine Yoga Challenge. In her own words: "My inspiration for the Rise & Shine class is to create a community of supportive practitioners who are focused on themselves in a positive way. Rise & Shine does not simply stand for getting up early and practicing physical asanas, it is a cultivation of awareness towards the physical self and the journey of its’ dynamic relationship with the mind."
So check out the Rise and Shine Challenge class this Thursday at 6:00 AM and start your own journey. See you there! -Shannon