Saturday, May 22, 2010

What Do You Love About Your Body?

Yogis teach that one way out of suffering is to change negative self-talk into positive self-talk. Just do it. Simple and sage yoga advice but so very hard to do in the moment. In a recent yoga class, I asked my yoginis, all young girls, to think about what part of their bodies they loved. Before answering, some of the girls talked about not liking their bodies. "You feel fat", "you want to be perfect", and "boys make fun of you" were some of the reasons (negative self-talk) these girls gave as to why they thought it was hard to really love their bodies. Even when I asked, what do you love, these young girls first wanted to talk about why they didn't love about their bodies. After that brief conversation, I asked the same question again and one bright and creative girl answered, "I love my brain." I had to big surprise there as she is a gifted math student! Two girls told the group that they loved their families. A sweet and tender response. But I wanted to know what these girls thought and felt about their bodies so I pressed them further. Finally Maggie told the group that she loved her legs because she had had a hard time walking when she was younger. Made me think....we take so much for granted. She was grateful that her legs now worked, that she had the strength to walk. Grateful to just walk! Melinda, another young yogi loved her legs, as well, because she was a dancer. She couldn't imagine life without dance. Still another girl, Cindy, who has had more physical problems and hospitalizations than any tender soul should ever have had to endure in her lifetime, told us that she loved her hair. It was one part of her body that hadn't failed her. Bless these tender young yogis, I thought to myself as we began our asanas.

Research has found that girls as young as 5 are overly focused on their bodies in such a way that when they feel fat or unattractive (at 5!), they feel really about bad about who they are as a person. I certainly have had my issues with my body over the years. How many times have I asked my husband, "Do I look fat in this?" How many jokes have I made and how many products have I bought to tame my wild and curly hair? It's only now because I workout several times a week, eat in a healthy way (most of the time!) and study and teach yoga that I have come to feel pretty good about my body, and that statement isn't true every day. Maybe if we focused more on what we love about our bodies vs. what we dislike, we'd all be happier. As the yogis teach...just do it. Or as Cindy said so genuinely and from the heart, "If you don't like yourself then you won't like what you see in the mirror, anyway." Amen.

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