Updated: Nov 25, 2021
Does Yoga help or hinder body positivity?
In a world where Westernized yoga is widely known for its ‘glamourous’ reputation, where does body positivity fit in the Insta-yogi imagery?
As I was laying on my yoga mat this morning experiencing a breathwork and healing session, I put my hands on my belly.
Not just ON my belly, but like, under my sweatshirt on my skin. I ACTUALLY put my hands on my belly. Granted, my hands were cold, and I was trying to warm them.
But when this skin-on-skin sensation happened, I actually felt a tingle. My skin was actually responding to the touch of my own fingers.
Wow, I just realized this sounds like the opening of a bit of softcore porn, but that’s not actually where my mind was headed with this share.
I started to realize how little we actually touch our bodies in loving, non-sexual ways…
Besides rubbing your hands together, brushing something off your face, or scratching an itch, when was the last time you had skin-on-skin contact with yourself?
Even when we need lotion, we rush the experience. We slather it on quickly in mechanical motions to just get it over with.
Your body craves contact
Your body craves human touch. However, we are shamed by society into hating our bodies, so we hide them. We cover them with bulky clothes, we shy away from others’ contact, we learn to loathe our thighs, bellies, and arms.
Society tells us to love our fat is disgusting, and a misplaced ego trip… that we should be ashamed of ourselves.
Why do we hate ourselves for not looking like the models in a magazine? Why do we have this expectation that all human bodies should look alike?
We are not all made up of the same genetic code, and we are not all of the same nationality, race, or body type. But yet, we have this expectation for ourselves that in order for someone to love us, be it another person or society as a whole, we must conform to one specific ideal… In order to love ourselves, we should be flawless.
Well, this whole concept is bullshit. And it’s mind-boggling when you stop and think about it.
Reimagining Body Love: Real Body Positivity
Body positivity isn’t as simple as we are sometimes sold.
How conditioned we have all become to one standard of beauty.
My ancestors were Northern/Western European. We were early settlers. Women were built stocky with extra layers to survive tough seasons, to work hard to provide for our family.
We were hunters and gatherers, we held onto calories in case of a drought or famine.
Why in the world would I ever expect to be skinny and tall and lanky? It’s not in my genetics. I’m never going to be in the same category as a woman with an African tribal genetic makeup, a Mediterranean heritage, or Asian background.
It’s insane that western media has told me -told us – that we can only be beautiful if we are thin, and blonde, and pale, and our breasts are perky, and our limbs are lanky.
Well, we all fell for it.
We learned to critique ourselves, and we were taught to be ashamed of ourselves. We were told that fat is a sign of laziness, not a sign of fantastic childbearing and heartiness of health.
Would you ever look at another woman and say to her the things you say to yourself in the mirror?
So, we stopped touching our thighs, because ‘ew, there’s fat there’ (even though there is supposed to be fat there, and it is natural and normal to have a layer of fat on your body).
We stopped touching our hips and being proud of them, for bearing our children and supporting our movement.
We hate our stretch marks, even though the reason for them – those smiling little cherub faces looking up at us – are the most fantastic reason in the world for stretch marks.
Actually, if you really think about it, why aren’t we flaunting our stretch marks for the world to see in one big declaration of “LOOK WHAT MY BODY DID”.
A Return to Acceptance
I long for a return to a culture that values a little extra padding as a sign of a life well-lived. Of a life of abundance and love. A sign of childbearing and fertility.
And how can we get back to that? Our body is merely a vessel that contains our spirit, our soul, our divine being.
It should be honored, it should be adored, it should be revered with the wonder that it is. It is a gift from the creator, from the universe, and it is quite honestly, pretty badass the way it all works.
We should start with ourselves. Learning to love ourselves exactly as we are today.
To be able to run your fingers across your belly and be happy to feel that contact – that gentle loving contact.
Mindsets should be shifted to just accept that this is how your body is, how it looks, how it protects your organs, your vitality, and your soul.
And learn to love yourself exactly as you are. That fat is not a curtain of shame, it’s a badge of honor for all you have accomplished and experienced, it’s a showing of your human-ness and of life itself.
Each and every BODY is a celebration of our differences.
A Brief Exercise in Celebration
Put your hand on your belly. Yes, your whole hand, fingers, and palms – all of it.
Directly on your skin, nothing standing between you and the love. Now, run that whole hand in a clockwise circle around your belly button. Give yourself a good rub, feel it all, this is all you, and you are ok just how you are.
Say it out “this is amazing, I am amazing”. Say it again, with feeling, like you mean it.
And then start to mean it.
You are amazing, your body is amazing, you are pure love, you deserve pure love, you are worthy of pure love.
Then maybe next time you will be brave enough to do this with your thighs (maybe even your inner thighs!) You know, that part that is all mushy and gushy and soft and flabby.
Maybe even dare to feel the dimples in your fantastic booty with your bare hands.
Maybe even declare that you have a fantastic booty, because mostly it’s fantastic because of all that extra cushion, with all those amazing dimples. This is what the real body positivity movement looks like.
Body Love – A Call to Action
My Chubby Chick Yoga classes will now be encouraging and supportive of poses that allow you to feel your body. With guided suggestions for placing your hand on your belly or thighs, or feet.
I am reminded of my first trip to Bali when I pushed myself to wear a bikini in public.
As I was packing, I was sure I could do this, it was a foreign country where I knew no one, and I set my goal to actually step out and do this.
The reality was more difficult, but my Chubby Chick Yoga retreats are designed to help you love and support yourself in facing your challenges, your body image, and your ability to love yourself exactly as you are.
My Bali yoga retreats add-in challenges and opportunities for you to step out of your comfort zone, at your own pace, whatever that might look like for you.
I invite you to join us in your own way and explore what is really going on inside of your mind that is holding you back. To explore self love and self care like never before. To jump on board with the body positivity movement with us, because it feels so good!
Let’s hold each other accountable for releasing the negative thoughts, apologizing to ourselves, and beginning the healing process towards a truer, deeper, more freeing level of love for our bodies.
All details for the Bali yoga retreat can be found HERE