In my practice as a psychotherapist I am often told “I want to learn how to love my body but I don’t know how.” In the society we live in today, there’s no secret that the images we see in magazines, TV, movies and websites are often photoshopped, and unfortunately that doesn’t exclude yoga related media. When posed with the request to try to help someone connect with their physical forms in a more positive way my recommendations are always rooted in yoga.
The practices of hatha yoga and pranayama offer us miraculous opportunities to be with ourselves in little pockets of time, which we can otherwise easily miss in our busy lives. If we allow it, we can receive the chance to slow down and be with our physical forms instead of running away from what they are able to do, what they look like or how it feels to be in them. This first step to healing is to be in the moment with what is true. When we step onto the mat with this intention we step onto the path of mending the sacred mind, heart and body connection.
These moments with ourselves also give the gift of observing what our bodies can do. Remember the first time you wobbled into a still moment in tree pose? Or, maybe the time you noticed your eyes a little closer to your toes in standing forward fold? That 10 seconds of meditation on your breath without the mind wondering? Such precious spots in time spread the message of ‘body can’ instead of ‘body can’t’. The more of these moments we collect the more likely we are to turn over a new leaf in a negative body relationship and begin to create one centered around love and acceptance.
Contrary to most messages we’ve been exposed to in our lifetimes, yoga can (if we allow it) whisper an invitation to practice acceptance of our entire body, mind and heart in each breath, pose and class. Whatever comes up for you, that’s what is, and being with what is. is the first step towards healing. This idea is often met with the question “but how will I get better/improve!?” Which, is a fair question coming from the “pusher” mentality we’re often surrounded by. To be with the physical body sensations, emotions, beliefs, and quality of the breath with the practice of acceptance, and as Ti would suggest the “so this is what is happening now,” curiosity, actually creates a rooted and sturdy platform from which real and lasting change can occur.
One of my heart’s greatest joys is being able to offer body positive yoga classes to our community so that these gifts infused with body loving intentions might be received. If I could draw a picture of my favorite moment in a recent class it would be the whole room full of colorful mats, with people of all body shapes and sizes practicing tree pose and giggling all together at our collective wobbly trees in our forest of body love. I believe that we can create a body love yoga movement for ourselves and our generations to come by inviting bodies of all shapes, sizes, colors and abilities into our loving practice on and off the mat. I hope that you’ll join me in a body kindness class soon
Chrysecolla is a practicing psychotherapist specializing in supporting people healing from negative body image, trauma, disordered eating, depression, anxiety and eating disorders. Her yoga classes offer the opportunity to practice healing through movement, awareness and settling into the present moment. She is offering two body kindness series this fall, both starting the first week of October. You can read more about them here.