Yoga and body image - Mental Health Awareness week
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation.
Our mental health is individual to each us, just as our physical health is individual to each of us. No two people are the same and our mental health and physical health changes day to day, with age and in relation to what is happening around us.
Yoga and meditation can help us to tune into our bodies and our minds, bringing a better awareness of how we feel, what triggers challenges, what causes stress. Yoga and meditation can also provide tools to support better physical and mental health, ways to bring a calmer and clearer approach to increasing our health in body and mind.
This year Mental Health Awareness Week has a focus on body image.
I am all too aware of the 'beautiful' yoga bodies, flexed in acrobatic poses wearing the latest yoga trends that are splashed across social media.
Most of us who practice yoga will neither achieve these poses or the 'beautiful' body. And we don't need to. Often these models have a dance or gymnastic background which supports these advanced poses.
Most yoga students, including myself, and everyone I teach, will find joy and freedom in the yoga poses that suit our individual body and needs. We use adaptations, props and find our own versions of poses, whether they are the most basic or the more advanced. Everyone can do yoga - and everyone's body truly is beautiful.
I was struck, but not really surprised by recent statistics for advertising and social media and body image:
"New online surveys were conducted by the Mental Health Foundation with YouGov in March 2019 of 4,505 UK adults 18+ and 1,118 GB teenagers (aged 13-19).
The results highlighted that:
- Just over one in five adults (21%) said images used in advertising had caused them to worry about their body image.
- Just over one in five adults (22%) and 40% of teenagers said images on social media caused them to worry about their body image. "
ANY BODY can do Yoga
Yoga images on social media and advertising contribute to this. Please consider yoga images with care. They don't always reflect what yoga is and can be. ANY BODY can do yoga. There is nothing to aspire to except being yourself, having fun and reaping the physical and mental health rewards yoga can bring.
Everyone is welcome in my classes, where you will find a wonderful array of human beings, each bringing their own unique and beautiful selves to the room to share yoga together.
Here's another positive yoga body image blog post from Dianne Bondy https://www.doyouyoga.com/yoga-body-image-and-you/
And here you will find pictures of real people, with real stories doing real yoga https://www.sonima.com/yoga/yoga-body/