Yoga and your body image

Body image is the way we perceive our bodies, the way we feel about our bodies, the way we think about our bodies. All of the above have an effect on how we treat our bodies.

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Your yoga practice reflects your body image

When you are happy with your body, you will most likely treat your body with respect, and because of that also do your yoga practice with respect, enjoying doing it, able to be in the moment while practicing.

However, if you suffer from a voice in your head telling you you鈥檙e too thin, too fat, not strong enough, not muscular enough, too curvy, not curvy in the right places, not as beautiful or as flexible as the girl next to you, chances are your yoga practice will be a reflection of that body image.

The way you practise will most likely be that you push yourself too hard to get thinner, create more muscles, etc. Or your confidence will be so low you鈥檙e not looking for your edges at all, always staying well within the comfort zone, thus never challenging your body, also never discovering your greatness, your abilities.

Awareness and intention

What I would like for everybody is to be aware of your motivations, your voices, your body image. When you are aware of what drives you, then you can change.
Set an intention for yourself to make peace with your body, accept it the way it is and also realize that our cultural body image is not realistic and crushes everybody鈥檚 self confidence.

How you feel matters most, not what you think someone else might think, you鈥檒l never win that game.
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The most beautiful people are suffering from the most terrible body images, because they believe they are totally dependent on other people鈥檚 opinions.

The fact that the most beautiful people suffer from the most terrible body images and then the fact that your neighbour next door who is too big (according to your perception) is totally happy with who she is, means something. As with everything, acceptance, happiness and confidence comes from the inside. Knowing that, how can the way you look give you that if its not already inside you, if you don鈥檛 love yourself already unconditionally? So no matter how thin, beautiful, strong and stunning you are from the outside, if you feel crappy inside, it doesn鈥檛 matter, it won鈥檛 give you anything, it will never be enough. There will always be a struggle for more.

Negative emotions and destructive behaviour

When you think you are not good enough, and then you do something that you believe will make it worse, you feel guilty. And guilt or any other negative emotion will only contribute to an even worse self-image, and in turn contribute to doing something else destructive.

To leave any destructive behaviour behind you, you will need to work on loving yourself right as you are now, too fat, eating too much sugar, with the bad hair cut you have, and the bad skin that is part of it (just examples). When you start to be ok with yourself like that, and see how beautiful and special you are, purely by being you, your self destructive behaviour might just quit on you! Just when you don鈥檛 need it to do that anymore.

When you love and respect yourself, you might find that making healthier choices just happen; your body will find its natural balance; and you will be beautiful, from the inside out.

Just a few things to consider 馃檪

With love for you, exactly the way you are now!

Esther x

EkhartYoga members: Here are a couple of classes to help cultivate confidence and a positive body image:

This article has been updated and was originally posted on 5th June 2012

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Esther Ekhart
Esther EkhartEsther Ekhart, face and founder of EkhartYoga, brings years of personal yoga and meditation practice, therapy training and study of yoga philosophy into her teaching.