Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Melanie Klein, co-author of the new Yoga and Body Image.
We struggled with negative body image most of our lives—running the gamut of diet fads and fitness trends. To call our pursuit of the beauty ideal an obsession is to put it mildly. And, sadly, our preoccupation with making over our bodies is not a rare occurrence.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, negative body image and rates of eating disorders are rapidly increasing among girls and women across race. But this is not just limited by gender. Body image concerns, eating disorders, and rates of muscle dysmorphia are impacting more boys and men. The emotional, psychological, and physical fall-out of body dissatisfaction is severe (and potentially deadly).
In our experience, yoga practice became a game-changing tool in re-establishing a relationship to our bodies, countering negative media messaging, and silencing the inner critic quick to point out “flaws.” While not a magic bullet or overnight remedy by any means, a consistent yoga practice had the ability to shift our paradigm from disappointment and expectation to gratitude and presence. And that was nothing short of a liberating experience for us.
As we began to write about our yoga and body image experiences, we met more and more people with similar stories—inspiring tales of radical transformation that included the development of acceptance, compassion, and positive body image. While the details were unique, the through-line was the same—yoga practice has the ability to cut through body disassociation, low self-esteem, depression, and dangerous physical practices in the pursuit of social acceptance to reveal the heart of the matter—our authentic nature and the source of true beauty.
Our thanks to Melanie for her guest post! For more from Melanie Klein, read her interview with Yoga and Body Image co-author Anna Guest-Jelley.