Yoga with Melissa 352 Back to School Yoga: Yoga and Body Image

by Melissa West on October 7, 2016

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Body Image

body-imageIn my experience and from what I have heard of yours, is that when watching yoga videos on YouTube they tend to be focused externally on the mastery of the body in physical form in asana, that is yoga posture. Many of you have spoken of your frustration with other classes and the ease when you come here to Yoga with Melissa to bring acceptance to the realness of your bodies.

Our yoga practice shapes how we feel and think about our bodies. It also shapes how we imagine other people see us. The people around us and our culture strongly influence our body image. We are surrounded by images in the media that tell us we are not young enough, thin enough or beautiful enough. Many yoga videos contribute to negative body images with contortionist physical extremes being performed online. However in real life, only a small percentage of the population are hyperly mobile and bodies in real life are much more diverse than those in most yoga videos, human beings come in all ages, shapes, and gender identities.

In an online video culture that focuses predominantly on how the body looks in a yoga pose we are focusing on something quite different here. Rather than looking at our bodies from the outside, we are bringing awareness to our experience from the inside. In our yoga practice we ask the question: what is happening inside my body? Our awareness turns inward.

This way of experiencing our yoga practice from the inside out is a subtle and more mature form of awareness. When we turn our awareness inwards to mindfulness from the inside of our body, we let go of knowing what we will find when we turn our attention to our physical, mental, emotional and energetic experience. We come to our experience without expectation. Each time we turn inward it may be different.

When you turn inward and bring awareness to your experience your embodied experience know that your moment to moment experience changes. It may be tempting to stay with one sensation, however, being open to the sensations changing is part of mindful embodiment.

When we bring our awareness to our embodied experience it allows us to turn down the mental chatter. Our brains think, that is what they do. Their default is to think about the past, wish things were different, and plan for the future. Bo Forbes, an expert on interoception explains that this creates a tendency towards negative self talk, “I am not worthy” and “I will never get what I need” including negative body image. It is just the way our brain is wired. It is not personal.

Dropping inwards with awareness allows us to build a relationship between our body and our mind to pay attention at a deep level to what is happening in our bodies from moment to moment.

When we come to our physical bodies with this level of awareness we do so with loving kindness and tremendous tenderness. We are gentle and compassionate with the sensations, discomfort, pain, and tension that awaits our awareness.


Mindfulness in the Body

Interoception in Practice with Bo Forbes

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

Props Needed: Folded Blanket

Yoga Postures/Asanas: Knee to Chest Pose or Apanasana, jathara parivartanasana or reclined twist, Cat Pose or Marjaryasana, Pigeon Pose or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, Downward Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana, Tree Pose or Vrksasana, Reverse Warrior or Peaceful Warrior, Wide Legged Standing Forward Fold or Prasarita Padottanasana, Sphinx Pose or Salamba Bhujangasana, Parivrtta Upavistha Konasana, Upavistha Konasana, Savasana or Corpse Pose

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Thank you for your donations: Donna, Sean, Mindy, Helen

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You can also contribute of your time and influence the direction of the next Yoga with Melissa by answering the following question in the comments:

What class would you like to see next week on Yoga with Melissa for the Back to School Yoga series? Would you like a class on Balance or Setting Intention? Write balance or setting intention in the comments and let me know why that class is important to you in the comments. I will make my decision based on the most comments and also best reasons why 🙂

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Today we focused on body image. In our membership community we have weekly live guided meditations that bring you into your body in an incredibly deep way.

Here is what Maria had to say about her experience in the live class,
“I relaxed so much. I felt my whole body relaxing. As we were bringing awareness to our feet I felt my upper back where I carry all my tension let go slowly, slowly, slowly. It is just amazing. I felt so much better than when we began this class. Thank you Melissa for this wonderful class. I haven’t participated before and had so much fun. I don’t think that I have slept so well in ages. I look forward to future classes and furthering my meditation practice.” Maria

Here is a link to the recording and future classes for members: Click Here

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Weekly Yoga with Melissa #352 Photos of Yoga Pose


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