Seven Steps to Loving Your Body
Jackie Dobrinska | Yoga International
Bodies. We each have one.
According to yogic science, they are rare and precious gifts which enable us to perceive and understand the world, as well as to manipulate and create in it. These vehicles are important tools on the journey of self-transformation and realization.
Yet, instead of honoring and respecting the gift of the body, many of us have learned to detest it. Hating our bellies, thighs, breasts, arms, and other features, we turn to restricted diets, obsessive exercise, and even dangerous medical procedures. The unconscious hope is that by fitting into some idealized definition of beauty, we will finally fulfill deeper longings for love, success, and acceptance.
The cost is high. Attention, energy, and money, once available to fulfill our passions and purpose, are sacrificed to counting calories, purchasing weight loss products, and engaging in thoughts of self-abuse. Malnutrition from low-calorie, low-fat, processed foods affects our energy, mind, and spirit. We become disconnected from feelings of pleasure and the ability to express joy, and instead experience the body as a source of shame, discomfort, and insecurity.
While placing blame or playing the victim can undermine our responsibility and power, it’s also important to understand the backdrop in which we live.
Advertising is a $250 billion dollar business. The average American sees 3,000 ads every day. They are in schools, buildings, billboards, buses, cars, elevators, emails, social media, smart phones, and more. The majority of individuals say they feel personally exempt from the effects of advertising, yet the editor of Advertising Age reports that only 8% of advertising is received by the conscious mind. The messages are sent straight to the subconscious, activating latent tendencies and enforcing the belief that we are inherently flawed. They say we’re not sexy, thin, young, beautiful, or rich enough, and that to be happy, we must be different.
The average American sees 3,000 ads every day.
These messages ride on the top of glossy, photoshopped images. Pores are airbrushed, legs lengthened, waists reduced, and different parts of women combined into an unrealistic, exaggerated whole. These images, seen thousands of times a day, weave themselves into the recesses of our mind and shape our subtle thoughts, words, actions, habits, and beliefs about who and how we should be.
Yoga + Body Image
The practices of yoga can help us unwind unconscious beliefs and habits and resist the powerful forces of media imagery. Yet, as yoga grows into a multi-billion dollar industry, it has adopted the same destructive marketing tactics—impossibly thin, provocative women and strong, powerful men are shown holding ultra-advanced postures. Sex sells, and so do