Inspired by Krista Bugden DailyLife.com.
Everyone has good and bad days in regard to how we feel about our bodies, though I think women are harder on themselves or notice more about their bodies, than men.
If you’re struggling with body acceptance, yoga might be just what you need to get in touch with the wonderful skin that you are in.
Body acceptance is respecting your body. So taking the time to stretch your muscles and move your body can not only help you appreciate it more but also help you get to know it more.
Where are the tight spots? What are some of your strengths? What are some areas you can work on? And what can you learn to appreciate more about this wonderful body that does so much for you?
Getting Into the Self-Compassion Mindset
Body acceptance often begins with a little self-compassion. Unfortunately, many of us have been pushed to believe that what society views as imperfections and flaws aren’t normal. In fact, they are the most normal things that a body can have: We all have (or get) wrinkles, fat, cellulite, rolls, etc.
So, let’s flip the script on this one.
These “flaws” are normal. In fact, sitting down and having a few rolls on your belly is healthy (I like the sound of this, only small roles though!) The body needs fat for protection, temperature regulation, and more. It’s not just there to make you feel bad about yourself.
There are phases of life. The body changes. This is okay.
Consider embracing these new chapters as opposed to resisting them and pushing them away.
Your body might be softer now. Love this process. Lean into the change and the experience it brings. After all, life is meant to be experienced.
Be proud of that softer body because maybe you finally started giving yourself more downtime, and that’s a good thing! Love those wrinkles because they show how much joy your life has ignited. These aren’t things we need to beat ourselves up about.
By now, you might be looking at your body a little differently. Maybe, you even appreciate it a little more. This is the EXACT mindset we want to be in to move through this body love yoga flow.
So, ready to move your body? Ready to love it a little more? It’s all about taking one small step at a time. So, let’s start together with this simple flow.
Your Body Neutrality Yoga Flow
Are you ready? Roll out your mat (even a towel works!).
Begin standing and do the following sequence. It shouldn’t take you longer than 10 minutes.
1. Mountain Pose
Usually, a mountain pose involves having your arms at your side. However, we’re going to do this one a little differently.
Start by standing tall, with your gaze forward and your shoulders relaxed and back. Next, ground your feet into the ground, about hip-width apart. Gently rest your hands on top of one another over your heart, then close your eyes.
Slowly take in a full belly breath. Then, slowly exhale, and repeat for about 10 breaths. During each breath, tune in to the air filling your lungs. Feel your diaphragm move as you fill your belly with air.
Control it. Acknowledge that this is you, your body. It’s breathing for you, allowing you to experience all the wonderful moments that life has to offer.
And don’t judge! This is a no-judgment zone. We’re doing yoga for all bodies, which doesn’t mean you have to technically adhere to the exact specifications of each pose. Rather, it means that you simply do your best.
Some of us might briefly open our eyes during this pose. That’s okay. We might get distracted briefly. Also, totally okay. Each time you notice an interruption, bring your attention back to your breath and back to feeling grounded within your own skin.
2. Forward Fold
On your last breath in mountain pose, inhale. As you exhale, dive forward, bending at your hips. Feel a wave of love and appreciation wash over your body as you come into your forward fold.
You can hang your arms or grab your opposite elbows with your opposite hands in this position. Alternatively, you can also extend your arms behind you, grasping your hands together, or place your hands under your feet.
Again, do what feels comfortable for your body. There is no “right” answer here.
Again, tune into your breathing and how you feel. This pose stretches your entire posterior chain, which means you should feel a good stretch down the back of your legs and your back. Hold this pose for another 10 breaths.
3. High Lunge
If you’re at the front of your mat, step one foot back. If you’re at the back of your mat, step one foot forward. Bend your back knee. Bend your front knee so that your thigh is parallel to the floor (or almost). You should come into a high lunge.
Place your hands on your hips, and really tune into how this pose feels. Pay attention to keeping your hips square and facing forward, as well as maintaining your balance. Feel strong. Your body is doing this!
If you can, think of a part of your body that you truly appreciate and love. Maybe it’s your eyes, or you love how strong your legs are - whatever it is, focus on that and feel all those positive feelings.
Fill your heart with them and stay here for 10 breaths.
4. Goddess Pose
Now, transition from your high lunge to face one side. Turn your toes outward, and bend your knees so that you’re in a very wide squat. Rest your hands on the top of your thighs and hold here.
If you can, try to push your knees outward even more. Tune into any tight areas. And feel how strong your legs are! If you need to come out of the pose momentarily, do so, then get right back to it.
At the same time, challenge yourself and your body.
This body acceptance yoga flow is all about going easy and showing you what your body can do (we bet it’s more than you think!).
Take a deep inhale and raise your arms high to the sky. Lower on the exhale, and repeat for 10 breaths.
5. Child’s Pose
We’re not exactly going to do this transition smoothly. But like life and our body, sometimes things don’t always go smoothly. We want to get down into a comfortable and relaxing pose where we can practice a little self-compassion.
So, however you choose, gently move into an all-fours position on your mat. Slowly move your buttocks toward your heels and rest them on your feet. Extend your arms out straight in front of you and rest your forehead on the ground (or a block or pillow).
You can also choose to lay your arms by your sides. But, again, do what works and feels good to you. This is all about finding what works for you and your body.
You should find yourself in a relaxing position where no body part is under stress or strain. Completely relax into it. Think and feel the points of tension that are easing off—practice mindfulness in showing your body some compassion.
For the most part, many of us don’t treat our bodies that great. By taking this time to practice self-compassion intentionally, you can show your body some kindness and give back to it a little positivity that maybe you’ve been holding back from.
Hold this pose for a minute or up to three minutes at a time. Go with how your body feels. If you’re not sure, throw in a few wiggle movements to see if it feels okay.
Go Forward With Kindness
Perhaps you’re a people-pleaser, you’re kind to everyone else. But when it comes to you or your body, you’re the worst critique. You beat yourself up.
All of this negativity often leads to lower self-worth and various reasons to hate your body instead of loving and accepting it. Through body acceptance yoga, you can overcome these challenges and begin to appreciate your body for all its worth. Your body is your temple, it deserves to be loved and cared for.
Use this flow when you’re feeling down on yourself. Take that time you need to feel good in your skin. None of us feel confident all the time. It takes work. But a little work can truly go a long way.