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by Erica Rodefer Winters
Messages about weight loss, fitness, and self-improvement are so rampant, it’s hard not wonder from time to time if you measure up. Even the yoga studio, which should be a judgement-free zone, can fuel negative body image if you let it. The next time you start comparing yourself to the lithe, bendy yogini in the front row, try this: Make your practice a moving meditation in celebration of all the amazing things your body can do.
Need some convincing? Here are 4 reasons to worship the miraculous temple that houses your soul:
Amaze yourself. You will probably never look “perfect” by society’s standards (though you’re likely a lot more critical of yourself than others are). Luckily, spending time on your yoga mat, being present in your body, will help you see your body for how great it truly is. Whether you’re a long-time yoga practitioner or a beginner, every time you set foot on the mat, you have the opportunity to notice your body’s strength, flexibility, balance, and so many other positives that are nothing short of amazing.
Because you practice ahimsa. We typically think of the precept of nonharming as the words, actions, and thoughts you put out into the world, but it’s just as important to turn that intention toward ourselves. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion, just as you would anyone else.
Improve your relationships with others. You can’t love someone else if you don’t know how to love yourself, says Cyndi Lee, author of May I Be Happy. Learn to view yourself with love, compassion, and kindness, and it will spill over and improve your other relationships, too.
Be a shining example for the rest of the world. “We don’t have many options to see, much less practice, body acceptance in our culture,” says Curvy Yoga founder Anna Guest-Jelley. “So, as a practice of union of body, mind, and spirit, yoga has the opportunity to be a leader in helping people do just that. The more embodied, loving people we have in our world, the better it will be.”