The sad fact is that about 95 percent of women and 30 percent of men have issues about the way their bodies look. We, modern humans, have a very unstable perception of our bodies: from showing off our over sexual images on social media to absolute body-hate and not wanting to see ourselves in the mirror. We quickly go from one polarity to another, however, both of them have nothing to do with self-love. If your perception of your body is dependent on how much you weigh or if your muscles are toned enough, then you are most likely a prisoner of a delusional self-image made by society norms and standards.
The unhealthy tendency of modern people is that we all struggle with bad body image from time to time. Our relationship with our bodies and ourselves is always changing depending on the situation or circumstance. It takes constant awareness, mindfulness, and willingness to create a balanced and harmonious relationship with our bodies. But, unfortunately, most of us are too busy with self-hate and self-pity that we can’t hear what our bodies are trying to tell us.
Ancient traditions and mindfulness practices offer us practical ways to stabilize our relationship with our bodies. And one of them is yoga. In this article, we want to share with you how yoga practice can change your perception of your body and create a healthy and harmonious relationship with it!
4 Ways Yoga Can Positively Affect Your Body Image
Now let’s take a deeper look at what 4 solutions yoga offers you to change your perception of your body.
#1: Mindfulness through movement
Yoga helps us create a good relationship with our bodies through movement.
In yoga, we do not try to prove anything to ourselves or to others. Rather, performing each asana is our personal way of cultivating harmony. Every time we face the challenge of new asanas, patiently endure discomfort, and respect all our bodily and emotional experiences, we express gratitude to our body.
When performing asanas, pay attention to how much your body can do – how it allows you to twist, stretch, balance, and bend. Notice all the different parts of the body that make this or that asana possible and thank them. In this way, you can cultivate awareness of the power of your body, and, as a result, change your perception of your body.
#2: Mindfulness through positive self-talk
One of the best lessons yoga teaches us is to focus on our opportunities instead of limitations.
It’s always so easy to get influenced by our negative self-image, to see that there is always something wrong with us, judge our bodies, and compare them with others’. Such negativity makes us rigid and stifles our natural playfulness.
Yoga can help us let go of the habit of negative self-talk and self-judgment.
Next time you practice yoga, pay attention to how you talk to yourself and to your body. Listen to your inner talk. Are you criticizing yourself for not being flexible enough? Are you comparing your yoga skills to others? Learn to talk to yourself in a caring positive way. Only use positive and compassionate words in your self-talk. Develop the skill of practicing yoga joyfully and cheerfully, and not with judgment and perfectionism. Remember – yoga is not just the asanas but also your inner growth and the self-realization that is happening during your practice.
#3: Mindfulness through observation
It is impossible to establish a good relationship with your body if you do not break out of the vicious circle of judgment and self-criticism. In order to let go of these negative habits yoga suggests us to take an observer’s position.
The observer’s position is neutral. You observe your practice, your life, your body without judging it – whether it’s good or bad. You observe but don’t shape the result of your observation into the form of opinion.
When you practice yoga, just notice everything that you feel – your breathing, the way different parts of your body touch the floor, the sensations in your muscles, the thoughts rushing through your head. Just notice everything without judging. As you get used to practicing this way, you will notice that you have become more aware of your body’s capabilities, as well as its unique qualities. And there is no need of judgement or opinion – whether it’s good or bad, it is rather a neutral state of noticing the results of your observation.
#4: Focus on the present moment
Yoga is the best practice to cultivate presence.
When we think negatively about our bodies, we are not present in the moment. We are mentally transported to the past or future by comparing ourselves to how we used to look in the past or how we want to look in the future. As a result, we never appreciate and love the bodies we have this very moment. You are taking your focus away from the body that needs to be loved NOW, that needs to be appreciated NOW, and needs to be noticed and accepted NOW! However, it’s never good enough in the present moment.
We have high expectations of how our bodies have to look in order for us to love ourselves. This is how pressure and stress get created. And the most dangerous thing about this mindset is that our bodies can feel what we think of them. They feel our hate, our stress, our high expectations. And often, these negative emotions create such a big pressure in our bodies that they start to get sick.
Moreover, our feelings of shame and guilt lead to a loss of connection with the present moment, and it becomes even more difficult for us to feel confident about our bodies.
Through breathing exercises and yoga asanas, we learn to be “here and now” – and this is an important factor in order to reduce anxiety and negative thoughts.
Our breath connects us to the present moment. So take a little time to just sit and observe it. Observe how your breathing affects your ability to balance and twist. Observe how conscious breathing changes how you talk to yourself and how you perceive your body. With every exhale let go of negative self-image. With every inhale, fill your body in with self-love and positivity.
The Bottom Line
Mindful movement, self-talk, observation, and focusing on the present moment are four keys that you can use to change your perception of your body towards a positive self-image, self-love, self-acceptance, and awareness. If you start using mindfulness during your yoga practice, very soon you will notice that you are becoming more mindful in your everyday life. You will become more mindful in your self-talk which will help you to create a positive self-image and more confidence in life.