Can Yoga Help You Love Yourself?
Do you love your body? Do you worry that it’s not enough? Not thin enough, not curvy enough, not tall enough, not short enough, not strong enough, not flexible enough, not attractive enough?
Would you believe that yoga can teach you to love your body?
In our society, the common belief is that we ARE our bodies. If your body doesn’t measure up to the current standard of beauty, then YOU are not good enough. You might be judged as not beautiful, not handsome, not smart, not cool, not worthy. This thinking seems to be especially prevalent amongst young people, which may be a contributing factor in the current bullying trend.
In yoga, we talk about the mind, the body and the spirit. We consider these to be three distinct parts of a person. The mind is the thinking part of the body, the body is the vehicle that helps one navigate through the world and accomplish one’s work, and the spirit is the actual self. The spirit might also be described as the soul, the part of a person that has emotions, motivates one’s behavior, and makes a person who he or she is.
With this line of thinking, the importance of the body is minimized. What’s really crucial is your spirit. Are you a good person? Are you kind to others? Do you try to leave the world better than you found it?
The significance of the spirit puts into perspective the purpose of the body. Your body exists to house your mind and your spirit and helps you move around and do good work. And guess what? Your spirit doesn’t care if your body has high cheekbones, long legs or a cute butt!
It may take time to adjust to this type of thinking, but when you do, you’ll come to appreciate your body for what it enables you to DO, rather than for what it looks like. You’ll begin to love yourself regardless of the shape and condition of your body, and you’ll begin to love and accept others regardless of the shape and condition of their bodies.
And that’s why we practice the physical yoga poses…to strengthen our bodies. The better care we take of our bodies, the stronger they will be, and the longer we will live. And the bonus is that through practicing yoga, you learn to connect with your true self…your spirit. And this powerful combination of a strong body and a deep connection with spirit is where you find inspiration for doing a lifetime of good work.