I’m looking forward to jamming about body politics, the mythical yoga body and body image with Erica Mather on Dec 14. Erica is a NYC-based Forrest Yoga teacher, body image activist and founder of Adore Your Body Signature System. She’s been conducting these teleclasses with thought leaders in the body image movement, and I’m honoured to be next on her list.
We tried to come up with a focus or seminar kind of thing for this teleclass, and had several preliminary Skype calls to figure out what to talk about. But we’d end up just chatting away about things we’d come across in our work, the blogosphere, yoga culture – so it’s going to be more of a conversation than a class or an interview. It’ll be a jam! We’ll be talking about things that have caught the attention of our eyes and hearts.
Things that have been on my mind: earlier this fall, I wrote a piece on The Yoga Lunchbox about my changing, aging yoga body (which got some ridicule because at 38, I’m hardly aged, except for I am, and I’m 10 years older than I was when I was 28, which is something). I’ve also watched big players in the yoga world like lululemon and Yoga Journal jump on the body positivity bandwagon, and I have mixed feelings. On one hand, this is the kind of change we want to affect when we’re doing this work; but on the other hand, I’m concerned that their involvement is lip service and brand management, and they’ll just continue (or revert to, after a short dabble) promoting limited ideas of women’s bodies (white, slender, cis, able-bodied, etc). I’ve also been paying attention to (and am a proud advisory member of) the Yoga and Body Image Coalition, who have been working hard to challenge the dominant paradigm of the body within yoga culture while also empowering people with positive ideas and constructive solutions.
After writing the article for The Yoga Lunchbox, I realized that while I talk the talk about body positivity, I don’t always feel super positive about my own body, especially in the face of aging changes. So I started practicing a few little tricks (beyond my yoga practice) to feel better in my body. Note: I am definitely not an expert, and I have not “mastered” the art of loving my body. But these little tips have helped me ease up on myself. I’ll be discussing these, and much more, with Erica.
Move Your Body
Asana practice is great, but we experience the full range of motion and joy if we vary our forms of movement. I’ve felt my body confidence increase when I get out of my comfort zone and experiment with different ways of moving, including swimming, hula hooping and dance. Lately, I’ve been going to Partyfit, which is a crazy aerobics style fitness class with elements of boxercise and hip hop dance, set to a thumping top 40 soundtrack and disco lights.
Watch Other Bodies
This can take many forms, from watching sports to going to dance performances to studying anatomy. As many people know, I love burlesque and one of my favourite things about it is watching women’s bodies in action. I think this could be said of any style of dance (even the ones where people keep their clothes on). If you love tennis, watch the players and observe their strength and power. Make it a practice to observe without judgement or comparison and you’ll start to approach your own body with curiousity and acceptance.
Eat Good Food
When I get busy or absorbed in a project, the first thing I drop are healthy meals. I’ll end up eating out too much, or cooking quickie staples at home, or just eating a series of snacks instead of balanced meals, and then I end up feeling crappy and guilty. When this happens, I have to put on the brakes, hit the grocery store and plan a few days of meals. I book a night in with myself and make a big wholesome meal, with lots of leftovers. Eating healthy, whole foods (without counting calories) nourishes the body.
Mindfully Consume & Critically Think About Media
I can’t resist picking up the occasional issue of Cosmo or Elle when going through the check-out or while traveling. But I often feel kind of empty and dissatisfied afterwards, and find myself wanting things like new clothes and make-up. Which is how I’m supposed to feel. Advertising is strongly associated with insecurities in order to compel us to consume more. Get schooled in media literacy basics and support media that empowers you, rather than defeats you.
Dress For Your Body
When I was a teenager, I hid my low self-esteem under baggy t-shirts and excessive layers. Luckily, it was the early 90s so I blended in. But even though it looked like I was just following the latest trends, I was actually trying to erase my body and feel small. I didn’t even wear sleeveless shirts or tank tops until I was 24 because I thought my upper arms were flabby and disgusting. One of the best things about my 30s has been figuring out what works for my body type and investing in nice clothes that make me feel good. Even as I’ve packed on a few pounds recently and had to get rid of some beloved pieces (instead of keeping them for when I “lose the weight”), I’ve replaced them with shorter skirts that accentuates my butt and more low-cut shirts. Take that.
What do you do to inject a little more body love into your daily life? Leave a comment below and tell us.
Listen in as Erica and I talk about all this and more. Sign up for our jam at 5pm PST/8pm EST Sunday, Dec 14.