There is a saying that yoga is about ‘meeting yourself on your mat’. Quite frankly, if I’ve been away from my practice for some time or I’m rocking extra curves after a holiday, it can be really hard to want to meet myself! Just keeping it real with you.
In fact, at my first yoga class – over ten years ago – I rolled up my mat halfway through and took off for the shower. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. I didn’t like how I fumbled through each pose. And I definitely didn’t like how I felt heavier compared to the graceful, lithe yoga bodies around me.
So, to be honest, much of my journey with my yoga practice has not only been about finding peace on my mat but making peace with myself! You could call it my own, personal, journey to body positivity.
I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way. These lessons may seem like small steps, but they make a profound impact on your sense of self-worth.
Practicing body positivity
The following list has helped me love me; curves and all, and I’m hoping these tips will empower you to love and embrace yourself with kindness, compassion, and confidence.
Be kind to you
It is all too easy to beat ourselves up for skipping a day at the gym, indulging a little too much, or finding only flaws when we look in the mirror. Notice how you talk to yourself. If you’re being way harsh (yes, that’s a Clueless reference), ease up on you! For every time you say something unkind to yourself, add one thing you love about you.
The more we get into the practice of noticing the things we love, the more things we’ll find to love about ourselves. Is it uncomfortable at first? Hellz yeah!! But, you’ll start to find the negative voice gets drowned out by the positive one.
So much about what we think our bodies, and even our lives, should look like is based on very filtered versions of what others post. And because we’re on our phones and computers so much, these glossy images are fed to us almost non-stop.
If the curated and edited images on social media make you feel bad about yourself in any way, filter your follows!
It is totally okay to unfollow or unfriend your high school acquaintance whose seemingly unattainable perfect posts have you feeling inadequate.
The beauty of social media is that you can, to some degree, opt out of the messages you receive. (Side note: there are probably people on your socials thinking your life looks pretty rad too! But that’s another blog for another day!)
Fuel your body with love
Start to notice what feels good for you. How can you move your body in a way that feels good? What foods feel good in your body? If you‘re forcing yourself to go running and hating every second of it (like this gal!), then abandon ship…,errrr trail! Find an exercise that lets you move your body the way you want to.
Same goes with food. Restrictive eating is not very self-loving. If you’re depriving yourself of a food you seriously love and are missing it, find ways to incorporate it into your diet – the key is balance!
Honour where you’re at
Age and body changes can be tricky. We may not have the same metabolism or flexibility we did 10 years ago, and our bodies may not do the things they once could.
But here’s the thing…there is still so much beauty in our bodies and there are new things our bodies can do!
When I was first deep in my practice, I completely backed off from doing a camel pose (that’s the one where you reach your hands back to your ankles from a kneeling position). You expose your entire front line – throat, chest, abs, pelvis, and lady business. It. Is. Vulnerable! And I couldn’t do it for four, whole, years!
Then, for some reason, after four years of opting out in favour of child’s pose, I decided to go for it! My body wasn’t in the most “lithe yogi” shape at the time and I had been away from my practice for a bit, but I did it! I had built enough trust in my body and myself that I could do this.
What I couldn’t do day one or year three, was something my body and I grew into. I’m so thankful I accepted the opportunity to evolve. If you’re body can’t do some of the things it once could, notice what it can now do and say thank you to your body for it!
I have a confession – my secret single behaviour (see Sex and the City Season 4, Episode 13) is that I have solo dance parties all the time at home! I dress up and crank the tunes! This is where I practice my confidence. I feel free and I feel my most me!
This can be different for everyone. Whether it be feeling powerful during a workout, rehearsing a presentation in the mirror, or lip-synching Britney Spears, find the moments where you can let yourself go and feel your most you then keep at it! Confidence takes practice.
I hope my personal story and heart-felt advice has helped you along with your own, self-love journey. Sending you peace from my mat and my mind.