‘This is a call to arms. A call to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous with yourself. The next time you look into the mirror, try to let go of the story line that says you're too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big; just look into the mirror and see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgement, and that is the first step towards transforming your experience of the world. ‘- Oprah Winfrey
We hear it all the time these days, embrace your body, love the skin you're in, but what if we have spent most of our lives struggling to practice self love and picking on our physical appearance? Is it really that easy to stop the negative self talk and be all about self love?
Coming from a dance background Im so aware of the pressures young women and men experience to strive for perfection, the pressure may not have even come from someone else, most of the time we put the pressure on ourselves, being our own worst critic.
Many many years ago I walked into my first yoga class, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t there for fitness in the beginning usually choosing Bikram Yoga over the more restorative classes. The most surprising thing about walking into these classes for me was that there were a whole range of different people attending, big, small, young, old, fit and not so fit.
As my practice progressed I noticed huge changes in my body, “woo hoo’” I thought “That Yoga is paying off” I not only felt stronger and more stable in my body but I would also walk out of class feeling light as a feather not physically but mentally I had let go of my day to day stresses, I had given myself the opportunity to breathe properly, to focus on my wellbeing rather than simply appearance.
What this feeling and constant practice started for me was a huge process and journey: and that’s exactly what it is and to this day I will admit that self love and body acceptance is still something I am constantly working on.
It’s easy to be ungrateful for the body you have until you can’t walk or drive or get out of bed. It took a major injury about six years ago to teach me that rather than worrying about the scales, instead I should be grateful I can actually get onto my mat and stretch, to make my body feel great, some people aren’t as fortunate, and I certainly wasn't for a very long time.
Now days I enjoy a much gentler practice to balance things out, choosing classes where I know it will be encouraged to listen to the body and choose rest and restoration when needed.
If you can relate to the above I can say that for me Yoga has made a difference, beyond the physical side of the practice yoga puts emphases on self-acceptance. Yoga takes you away from judging your body, and allows you to just experience it, over time that changes the negative self-talk in your head.
And as I said it is still a process, Yoga is not a miracle cure that is going to change you over night.
So this week I am dedicating my class theme to self-acceptance and contentment, to gratitude for the incredible things our bodies can do (even if some days I can barely touch my toes), and as my guru Oprah says let go of that story line that says you aren't good enough, cause we all deserve to give ourselves a break!