[Image: Yoga and Body Image Coalition]
Body image – we can’t escape constant exposure to what the media proposes is the ideal look for women. Many of us have the strength of character to be able to dismiss the awful offerings that glossy magazines are literally begging us to buy. (Who wants to buy pages of advertising anyway?)
Sadly, or perhaps not, body image is fast becoming a talking point within yoga circles. Here, once again, the meagre offerings of the likes of Yoga Journal are force-feeding us images of incredibly beautiful women (nothing wrong with that), displaying their prowess in yoga postures (again, nothing wrong with that – to a point as yoga is more than the mere posture). The only issue is that I cannot relate to these images as I have very womanly curves and it’s not out of envy, but sadness, that the magazine is not representing ALL women.
Magazines sometimes have the occasional token gesture, like Om Yoga Magazine having the amazing Dana Falsetti gracing its cover. Yoga Journal is desperately trying to mend its ways, but for many of us, we walked away from the magazine years ago, with a vow never to return. This is summed up really well in this article from Yoga Dork.
I came to yoga off the back of a history of an eating disorder – as fast as I lost the weight, my mother gained it out of worry. Yoga was something of a lightbulb moment, as it helped me realise that there was more to me than what I saw in the mirror.
The likes of Anna Guest-Jelley of Curvy Yoga and Yoga & Body Image Coalition are working hard to address these issues. The YBI’s focus on ‘this is what a yogi looks like’ is really gaining ground and opening up dialogue with many who are sharing their wonderful stories.
It was encouraging to see that studies in a recent Australian sample found practitioners to have a higher positive body image than non-practitioners. You can read about it in this article from Yoga U. The one issue I have with the study is that it involved those practicing Bikram – again, a whole different kind of story. Though if you have the time, you may be interested in reading more here and understanding why I won’t and don’t entertain this approach to yoga.
What I love about yoga, is that you can simply turn up and be real. No fancy, schmanzy yoga pants that are recycled from goodness knows what, that cost the average household weekly food bill for many in the UK. It’s about the sharing of ways of being present and for many of us women, ‘me-time’. That precious moment each week when you unfurl your yoga mat and the stepping on to it is all part of a cycle of ritual that connects us back with so many other powerful yoginis through time.
My classes welcome ALL women and provide an all-embracing, accepting atmosphere. I feel very blessed each time a woman chooses to attend a class with me, as it’s about being able to connect with her from where she is in that moment.
Classes are run in Central Watford, Hertfordshire – more details here: Claire Murphy Yoga