Is Modern Yoga Body Positive?

By Molly Black

Throughout my yoga journey, I’ve noticed that people who practice western yoga are depicted as slim and flexible white women. This has turned many people off of the art of yoga because it can seem exclusive. Not only are most classes full of this stereotype, typically the class emphasizes that the pose is the most important part of the practice. This not only excludes those who are inflexible but also excludes people with various body types. Many variations of yoga exist because there are so many bodies. Yoga has evolved to be inclusive and it’s a wonderful way to get to know your body, love your body, and become more mindful.

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I’ve had friends tell me that they are not ‘good at yoga’ because they cannot touch their toes or the clothes are not made for them. Sadly, I used to think I could never be a yoga teacher because my heels didn’t touch the ground during downward dog. This kept me from doing what I really love and I am so thankful that I changed my way of thinking. There is no one size fits all in yoga, we are all complex beings and we find joy in different ways.

I began my yoga journey ten years ago to practice more mindfulness, connect with my body, and ease joint pain. I was, and still am, battling anxiety. Because of my childhood, I struggle with feeling ungrounded and crave more stability in my daily life. I also have extra air bubbles in the synovial fluid, the fluid that lubricates your joints, in my knees which can be painful.

Yoga brings me to a place of gratitude towards myself and others. I’m able to live with more forgiveness and love because I feel more grounded and connected with myself. Having this body awareness and positivity has increased my confidence and elevated my sense of self-love.

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For my knees, the more yoga I do, the fewer air bubbles. The movement allows my joints to become more lubricated and I’ve been in less pain since I’ve committed to doing yoga at least 4 times a week.

Typically, I practice vinyasa and yin or restorative yoga. Vinyasa is great for movement and strength, while yin/restorative is great for grounding. Through yin yoga, you can dive deep into yourself allowing your mind to calm and meditate.

There are many different teachers and styles of classes that are unique for your specific needs. Yoga is available for those who want to connect with themselves and live more mindfully. I’m thankful to be in a yoga community that emphasizes the healthy aspects of yoga. To me, the art of yoga is using the poses, the breath, and meditation to connect with yourself. This creates more body awareness and strengthens your mind-body connection. Yoga decreases anxiety, depression, and increases your self-awareness allowing you to be more confident.

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