I’m gonna go right out and say it, when we talk about self-love, as women, I think the most common thing that comes up is body image.
Body image anxiety -- whether it's a fixation on a facial flaw, an obsession with calorie-counting and exercise, or general negative feelings about your appearance -- can be all-consuming, and they can take a serious toll on your well-being and self-esteem. When it comes to dealing with body insecurities and negative self-talk, sometimes the best thing can be to get out of your own head. Yoga can also be an effective way for women to develop a positive self-image.
"To slow down and get into the body and say 'OK, when these thoughts are coming up, there's something actually behind the thoughts that we're observing' -- that connects us more to our true self versus the dialogue that may be running us." from a Studio in Boston
"Yoga allows us to start to slow down the self-critic, and start to observe that this voices in our heads isn't necessarily the reality," says Vyda Bielkus, co-founder of Health Yoga Life
Here are five ways that a regular yoga practice can help heal body image issues and promote positive self-esteem.
1. Let go of your need to be perfect.
"Practicing yoga helps people of all ages to create that space from all the media images that we're constantly bombarded with, and the negative self-talk that can come up from that," says Bielkus.
So much of eating and body issues have to do with the need to control, whereas yoga is about cultivating the ability to let go, Bielkus adds. Silencing the mind and focusing on the breath and the body can help you put a stop to the dangerous habit of perfectionism and to simply appreciate all the good things your body does for you.
"Women have so many expectations of themselves," Bielkus says. "We're constantly bombarded with unreal expectations that everything should be perfect -- I should look perfect and I should be accomplishing it all with ease. I think yoga allows us to take a break from all of the chaos... and start to say, 'I have a need to be good to myself and slow down, and as I'm able to show up for myself, I'm more able to show up for others.'"
2. Get active without an emphasis on competition or losing weight.
Some new practitioners may initially be attracted to yoga as a way to achieve the type of body they want, but they'll quickly realize that there's a lot more to the practice than getting into shape -- and in fact, this isn't the main objective at all. For those who are recovering from an eating disorder or struggling with body image issues, yoga can be a great way to stay active without focusing on competition or calorie-burning.
"I often say in my own classes, 'Why we start yoga is not why we stay,'" says Bielkus. "Yoga... helps us connect to an inner spark that we can honor. That's really what keeps people coming back to their mats -- more inner awareness, more stillness, more peace in their life. Then that supports healthier choices off the mat."
3. Find a healthy, body-positive community.
Having body-negative friends can take an even greater toll on your body image and self-esteem than the media, according to a 2012 study that linked peer competition to poor self-image. Attending local yoga classes are a great way to have fun with like-minded friends and to build new friendships that don't involve competing over physical appearance.
"Yoga allows teens to plug into a community of people who might be a healthier alternative to what's available to them," says Bielkus. "It's also less competitive than an athletic sport, because at yoga we de-emphasize competition and we're talking about self-acceptance."
4. Recognize (and change) negative beliefs and behaviour.
If you've been struggling with body image, it's possible that you've internalized negative body beliefs that you're not even aware of, like an assumption that your weight keeps you from being attractive to the opposite sex, or an idea that you should never to eat more than your friends do. But yoga allows us to pause and silence the mind for long enough to observe our beliefs and habits -- and to change the ones that are no longer helping us.
"It allows us to notice what beliefs drive our behaviour," says Bielkus. "We make these beliefs at a very young age -- we sort of decide on our worthiness, if we're lovable, how we're perceived by others -- usually in childhood, and then those beliefs drive us to action. Often as we go into adulthood, we're still carrying those beliefs, and they really don't serve us anymore."
5. Relieve stress than can lead to poor body image and eating disorders.
Stress and body images issues are often a vicious cycle: When we're stressed out, we may become more self-critical about our weight and eating habits, and in turn, a preoccupation with food, exercise and physical appearance brings more stress into our lives. According to a recent University of Michigan survey, 20 percent of college women say that thoughts and fears about eating and weight dominate their lives.
Not only can yoga help promote self-acceptance, but it's also been proven to relieve stress. Calm-inducing resting poses can be particularly helpful for easing a mind that's busy with negative thoughts, and Bielkus recommends gentle heart-opening backbend poses (like camel, bridge or wheel) for cultivating a positive relationship between the mind and body.
So ask yourself this: how is your relationship with yourself? Are you kind, forgiving, loving? If not — and be honest here — are you harsh, perhaps even mean to yourself? If you answered yes, just breathe: all is not lost. Now, how does your relationship with yourself affect your relationship with those around you? How does it affect the ways in which you perceive the world?
Through yoga, you can harness and focus your energies to find a gentler, more loving way to be comfortable in your own skin. Yoga allows space for healing; a place where you can enjoy who you are and lovingly express self-worth. This is a process where releasing many layers of unconscious, over-critical self-talk takes time. You are worth the time to find self-love within, and you are worth the self-nurturance you can give to the world.
With yoga, you come to learn that you are not your body, thoughts or feelings, as these things are transient and will change. You discover that are a divine being of love. Knowing this allows you to live in peace and realize your true self, as a divine source of energy and love.
Final Note: Repeat 100x “Me time is not a guilty pleasure"
Just because work, friends, and family place large demands on us, carving out time for ourselves isn’t selfish. Ultimately, it’s an investment in those around us. We all want to be everything we can possibly be for our family, friends, lovers etc, but we can’t do it without nourishing ourselves with love, good food, and good company.
Share with others on our FORUM How/where have you learned self-love in your life? If you haven't completely got there yet, what steps could you take to try and love yourself more or treat yourself better?
Peace Out Lovers....
NUTRITION with Elyse Lagos
Say Goodbye To Sugar
Week 3: Say goodbye to Sugar
Hi guys, welcome to week 3 of your challenge! I hope you all feeling great after commencing your real food living journey! So this weeks tip is to say goodbye to sugar!
Now I think most of you know the white refined table sugar is bad for you but today I wanted to give you a bit of a run down of other foods you may not realise are high in sugar and also let you know why sugar is so bad for us.
Now if you are the type of person that experiences energy slumps in the afternoon, craves sweet foods after lunch or dinner, you might struggle to eat one piece of cake or biscuit and walk away, you may experience brain fog and feel bloated often. These are all signed that sugar is negatively impacting your health and it might just be time you considered letting go of sugar all together.
Sugar is an empty calorie, or in other words it provides your body with no nutrients or anything beneficial to your body for that matter, apart from energy! And not the good kind of energy, the energy that comes with a crash and leaves you craving and wanting more in the next hour.
Sugar doesn’t actually interact with our hunger hormones (otherwise known as leptin and ghrelin) and this explains why you can eat a whole bag of lollies and not get full.
Another thing I want you to remember here is the way sugar is metabolised in the body (ill just make a note here too that the sugar I am referring to is fructose) and basically the way this sugar is metabolized in our body is completely different to other foods which are converted directly to energy in the form of glycogen. Instead fructose is processed by the liver and converted directly to fat.
I don’t think I need to give you any more reasons to get rid of it do I?
Now lets take a look at what foods are high in sugar..
So we all know table sugar (the white granules added to coffee and sweets) is best to avoid all together. If your someone who adds sugar to their coffee, one simple way to stop this habit is slowly decreasing the amount until you don’t have to add any, trust me on this your taste buds will adjust.
Low fat products (I’m talking flavoured yogurts and skim milks). Once they remove the fat from these products what do you think they add to make up for the loss of texture and taste that the fat gives? SUGAR of course! Avoid please, a better alternative is Natural Greek Yoghurt or coconut yoghurt for those sensitive to dairy (making sure the sugar is under 4g per serve).
Artificial sweeteners, these do nothing but keep your sugar cravings alive.
What do I recommend you eat? FRUIT - in it’s whole and purest form. Fruit provides you with a host of nutrients, including fiber (which is lacking in fruit juices and dried fruits). The fibre will avoid any fructose getting dumped into the liver and therefore prohibiting fat storage. Low fructose fruits are the best options which include berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries), kiwi fruit, coconut and grapefruit.
So this week’s tip is to ditch the sugar and stick to 2 serves of fruit a day!