What is Body Image?

Learn how to love your body.

Everyone has a body image. It’s the ever-evolving perception of your physical appearance. Whether you’re a man, woman, thin or thick, we all have a perception of what we look like based on our own self-observation or the input from our friends, family or media.

Regardless of who you are or where you come from, we all create a story about how we think we look based on our height, shape and weight as well as skin tone, body hair, gender identification and age. Body image is not just how you perceive your body but also how you feel about yourself and your body.

For me, what’s been a challenge is the amount of people who automatically think that yoga isn’t for them because they don’t fit the mold of what a yogi looks like. A lot of men tell me they are not flexible enough. Many women have said they’re not thin enough.

But the truth is, yoga is for every body.

Unfortunately, modern media is showing a very narrow portion of the yoga culture. As a result, it’s perpetuating people’s negative body images and making yoga seem intimidating and unavailable. However, yoga can benefit individuals of all different ages, shapes, sizes and abilities because yoga is not just a physical practice.

When people have a negative body image, they don’t perceive themselves as they really are. They feel unattractive, self-conscious, anxious and/or ashamed about how they look. Most times people with negative body image have low self-esteem and feel uncomfortable in their skin.

There are many reasons why I think yoga can help improve someone’s body image. When we take time to be with ourselves and breathe, we start to appreciate the skin that we’re in. A commitment to the physical practice of yoga can also help you build strength, confidence and courage which helps you feel better about your body. Committing to the meditation practice can help us quiet the negative patterns of the mind and allows for more mental clarity and non-attachment.

My Body Positive Journey

At first when I started yoga, I didn’t realize that I had a negative body image. But when I went to class, I was nervous and often hid in the back corner of the studio. I perceived myself as the “biggest” girl in the room and occasionally refused to try certain poses that I expected would be impossible for me because of my body.

However, every time I left a yoga class, I felt amazing. Not only did my practice help ease my anxiety but I started to  see that my commitment was yielding results. Not only was I able to explore more challenging poses but my body started getting stronger and I felt more confident every day.

I felt so transformed by this practice that I wanted to share it with others. However, when I was considering yoga teacher training, someone told me that I didn’t look like a yoga teacher and suggested that I lose weight before pursuing it as a career.

Although my body image had been improving, this comment hit me where I was already insecure. I thought to myself: Maybe it’s true. I’ll never succeed in this industry as a woman with curves.

It took me 5 years to face my fear and follow my heart to become a yoga teacher.

I eventually learned that my unique perspective was an asset, not an obstacle. My courage allowed me to move past my insecurities and helped me access the incredible benefits of deepening my yoga practice.

I realized that for many of us, it requires a lot of courage to show up on the yoga mat. That’s why I created my blog, YOGAudacious, to celebrate courageous women who love yoga. Every week I share a different story to help diversify the faces, bodies and images of yoga in media.

By sharing the different stories of a variety of women who benefit from yoga, I hope to create new body positive role models who can continue to inspire others.

If you would be interested in sharing her story, click >HERE< to fill out the survey.

For more references from the Yoga and Body Image Coalition, click >HERE< to visit their site.