Making Peace with Your Body

By The Spiritual Explorer | Published 24 October, 2014

Dear Spiritual Explorer: So many people are doing yoga today, but I feel too awkward because of my size. Any suggestions about curing my body dysmorphia? Sue M., Detroit, MI


Yoga from the Inside Out

Dear Sue: Your comment about what you term body dysmorphia is something that a number of young women are experiencing today. For those not in the know, it’s when you are not comfortable with your body shape and size even though it might not be an accurate observation. You are not alone; in fact, Christina Sell’s book Yoga from the Inside Out deals with that very issue.

John Friend, whom many people associate with Anasura Yoga, a heart centered yoga, speaks of his own initial meeting with Christina. His first impression of her was that she was a very solidly well built woman who had critical feelings about the shape of her body, even though it was well toned and in great condition. Upon further observation he saw that she would criticize some of her poses within the yoga even though his own assessment of her was truly admiring. In the face of that approval by this renowned expert on yoga, Christina was thus able to eventually relax the rigidity within her body and begin a transformation and acceptance through the practice of yoga.

Throughout the book, we see many photographs of women who don’t have what might be termed classically shaped bodies but who enjoy and perform yoga with great expertise and confidence. What is noteworthy is the delight that seems to emanate from each one of these women who have seemingly gained through yoga a wonderful acceptance of their bodies. And from what I have learned from my own study of yoga, this is the precise manner and behavior to adopt towards one’s body: an acceptance and appreciation of one’s ability to perform and complete poses, from the very simple to more complex, without comparison to others or more importantly, without self-criticism.

According to Christina, hatha yoga or any yoga for that matter, is an opportunity to build on what is good and whole within us, rather than focusing solely on our neurosis or darkness. Yoga allows us to focus our attention internally on the sensations of the body rather than its appearance. By changing this focus away from our bodies towards the sensations we feel in yoga, we can then take that same inwardness and change how we experience the world around us. First inward, then outward, as my teacher Ma Jaya would say. Instead of a battlefield, the body through yoga becomes a vehicle for greater awareness, and becomes a means of true authenticity and spiritual transformation.

This is a wonderful book about self-acceptance and love extended towards oneself through the vehicle of yoga. I highly recommend it. Thanks for writing, Spiritual Explorer

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