Each time I write an article for this website, I search online for photos to illustrate my articles. My search of “yoga images,” or “yoga poses” usually reveals a plethora of images of thin, lithe, lean women practicing yoga. These women are absolutely lovely, clad in colourful figure-revealing clothes, sometimes doing advanced poses and usually in front of a blurred image of seascapes. Personally, I have no issue with seeing images of beautiful women practicing yoga. However, there was a time when seeing these images would have led me to feel inferior, unattractive and obsessed with my own physique. Indeed, my reason for attending my first yoga class in 2002 was “for fitness.” At the time, I knew nothing of yoga’s origins, I knew nothing about why people have been practicing yoga for so long.
What I did know was that I was unhappy with my physique and I wanted to change my body. So I went to yoga. And I have continued to practice ever since then. Sometimes I’m attending five yoga classes a week, sometimes months will go by and I will have only practiced several times. Always, however, when I step off my mat after a practice of any length, I feel confident. I feel confident in myself and confident with my body. I accept myself exactly how I am at that moment. Remarkably, my physical body has changed very little since 2002. The change that I have noticed is in my mind when I look at my body. No longer do I glare at myself in the mirror and wish for a different sized body. Now, I am able to smile back at my reflection and cheerfully accept my body for exactly what it is in that moment. I attribute this change in attitude to yoga. I am confident that the time spent on my mat has led me towards self-confidence, and self-acceptance.
Whatever your reasons are for coming to the mat, my only request is that you offer acceptance to yourself when you step off your mat. What you look like is unimportant. Self-acceptane is what counts.