While we’re all aware of the notion of body positivity, sometimes feeling positive about the body you’ve got is easier said than done. Ever heard someone say something like “yoga is for everybody,” then popped into a workout clothing store and found yourself staring at photos of gorgeous models in lotus position and wondering if they meant “everybody… except you”?
It happens to the best of us. Whether you feel you’re not flexible enough, too big, too skinny, too built or too/not enough of pretty much anything, the yoga mat is just another place where our inner dialogue with our body can take a turn for the critical.
But the truth is, yoga really is for everybody. That means every body, too. So whether you’re a long-term yogi or a beginner, here are four ways that maintaining a yoga practice can work wonders for your sense of body positivity.
1. Yoga gets you in touch with your body
Literally! Whether you’re bending, resting hands or your face on other body parts, or helping yourself into a stretch, yoga can be a very grounding way to be present in your body. It’s not an accident that Centr’s yoga experts are also into mindfulness – a yoga sequence can bring your mind back to your body as it exists in the present moment, and help you put aside your worries about things such as muscle tone, swimsuit weather or the number on the scale.
2. Slow down those goals
We’ve all been there: you want to hit those strength and fitness goals and you want to hit them now! High impact training can rev you up, and the knock-on effect can be that you get impatient about improvements. Taking time for yoga can slow you down and stop you feeling out of control. It helps to put it all into perspective.
3. Body positivity frees up head space
When you’re worried or being critical about your body, you’re spending mental energy that could be used for something more healthful. By engaging with your body through yoga, you can begin to quiet those negative thoughts. This is something that Centr yoga expert Tahl Rinsky is passionate about. “I hope that through investigating their body [through] yoga people will come to some sort of understanding of their breath and an understanding of slowing down life,” she says.
4. Yoga treats your body with kindness
When we’re striving for a particular body goal, we can start to develop a critical dialogue with our body – “If only my stupid hips weren’t so tight!” or “I can’t believe my biceps aren’t getting bigger!” – and become the human equivalent of the steam-from-the-nose emoji. Yoga, on the other hand, can be employed as active recovery, flexibility, strength training, meditation, or even recovery from injury. They’re all actions that encourage us to take a moment to treat our body with the kindness and care it deserves. You may find that once you get off the mat all those critical thoughts have melted away.
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