Learning to accept your body could be as simple as stepping on the yoga mat.
In today’s society where thinness is equated to success and beauty, it’s easy to see why so many women struggle to accept their body. With unrealistic images of rake-thin celebrities and models splashed all over the media, the latest trend of “selfies” and the competitive world of “likes” on Facebook and Instagram, there is little wonder that 90 per cent of women are dissatisfied with their bodies.
Sadly we live in a world where women are judged by their looks rather than their ability. Airbrushed images of women in magazines evoke ideals to women that are often unrealistic and unhealthy. When women buy into this unattainable world of supposed perfection, their confidence and resilence takes a hit. But, women can learn to be happier in their own skin and yoga can teach them how.
In yoga, the body is viewed as the outer manifestation of the mind. In other words, the posture a woman takes directly reflects the state of their mind. Think about how you might feel when your shoulders are heavy, chest is collapsed, head is down and eyes are half-closed. You’re likely to feel exhausted, defeated or stressed. But by simply altering your posture, you can influence your mind. For instance, turning yourself upside down by jumping into an inversion such as a shoulder stand will increase blood flow to your brain, which increases the availability of oxygen and elevates the production of certain neurotransmitters (aka feel-good hormones) that in turn boosts mood. Happier people accept who they are and treat themselves with respect.
Regularly practicing yoga works to strengthen a woman’s body and there is a powerful shift in confidence when a woman accomplishes something she didn’t think was possible. When she exceeds her own expectations a feeling of empowerment flows through other areas of her life. The poses in yoga also teaches women to work kindly with their body, while the meditation and breathing can encourage them to work to a place of stillness.
Focusing on the breath offers women a natural way to find relief from daily stressors. Shallow breathing creates a state of arousal in the sympathetic nervous system, which can lead to panic, fear and anxiety. Slowing down and deepening the breathing helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, calming and regenerating the body. This calms and focuses the mind, relaxes the body, oxygenates the blood, soothes anxiety and stress, and promotes clear thinking, freeing the mind from mental distractions, worries and fatigue. This practice can help women develop inner strength and encourage them to let go of the inner critic and reclaim a sense of self-worth. Here women can forget about the pressure “to be someone” and instead accept and be themselves.
Photography: Scott Ehler
About the author
Caitlin Reid is a unique health professional with qualifications as an accredited nutritionist, accredited exercise physiologist and yoga teacher. Caitlin is passionate about all things health and wellness, and keeps up-to-date with the latest health research, which she uses when contributing expert advice to health, fitness, lifestyle and food companies. She is also the nutrition expert for the Women’s Fitness magazine, the dietitian for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and ambassador for Papaya Australia. Follow Caitlin on Instagram @caitlinareid or visit her website.