It’s a common experience as a yoga teacher to hear people “apologize” for the size of their body when the discussion is about taking yoga. Dispelling the myths about who can practice yoga is an ongoing challenge, and convincing media that featuring only one body type in imagery is harming others has seen some progress (credit where credit is due to this image from an Athleta catalog) but more is needed. In yoga, the group Yoga Body Image Coalition (YBIC) is working to change the conversation about yoga and body size.
I recently ran across the Health At Every Size (HAES) movement, and was heartened.
We are starting to learn that health and self-care are not the reserve of those with lower body fat. We are starting to learn that having a larger body does not mean that you are lesser, weaker, or unworthy. We are starting to learn that everyone benefits when an inclusive and supportive attitude is taken towards others.
The self-compassion part of the HAES pledge is particularly relevant to the yoga world:
- Finding the joy in moving one’s body and being physically active;
- Eating in a flexible and attuned manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite, while respecting the social conditions that frame eating options.”
Yoga, rather than being a weight-loss program, is a way to align mind and body, leading to a naturally healthy response to diet and movement. When this is the basis of practicing yoga, then we are moving much closer to “yoga for every body.”