This blog post was written by Emma, Lead Teacher and Creative Director of Queen Street Yoga.
We chose the holiday wish this year–“Wishing You a Body Positive New Year”–with a lot of care. We hope people will participate in yoga as a way to celebrate and enjoy their bodies, rather than fix or change their appearance.
All the time, but particularly at this time of year (New Year’s Resolution time!) there can be many subtle (and not so subtle) messages from our culture about bodies. About what we should be eating, and not be eating. About what we should be wearing. About how we should look and present ourselves. So much of these messages (coming from advertising, the people around us and even the voices in our own heads!) are focused on appearances, on what our bodies look like, or what they “should” look like.
For us, Body Positivity means re-orienting to our bodies as more than just their physical appearance. Body Positivity means considering all of the wondrous ways that our bodies allow us to experience ourselves and the world, regardless of what they look like, or how they stack up to a cultural “ideal”. Body Positivity can also mean a practice and a process, much like yoga, that might not move in a straight line, and might take quite a lot of back and forth as we consider and re-consider the various beliefs we have about our bodies.
At Queen Street Yoga, you might hear some of our teachers talking about interoception — internal sensing. This can be a focus of our practice that helps us become present to the the feeling of being in our bodies. To truly experience our bodies and our lives. This focus asks us: what is your inner experience of being in a body? What might be wondrous or hard about that?
How can we reframe how we think and talk about our bodies in an appearance focused world? What else can we celebrate about our bodies? What else can we enjoy about our bodies?
At the studio, we’ve been thinking about all the ways our bodies are great, just as they are, in all their variety and difference, rather than flawed or in need of fixing. We’ve been asking ourselves how we might complete the following sentence: “My body is great because…”
Here were some answers we came up with:
“…I can always reach the top shelf!”
“…my soft squishiness makes me the best cuddler.”
“…it made a baby.”
“…it is always getting stronger.”
We invite you to add your body reflection to the chalkboard at the studio! We truly believe all bodies are great: growing bodies and aging bodies, female bodies and male bodies and queer bodies, tall bodies and short bodies, disabled bodies, thin bodies, round bodies, injured bodies, athletic bodies, our bodies. Tell us what’s great about your body!
Focusing solely on the appearance of our bodies, we are distracted from so much that is more fundamental. It can be hard to enjoy our bodies if we think their purpose is to look a certain way for other people.
From all of us at Queen Street Yoga, we wish you a Body Positive New Year. We hope our yoga practices might help us all shift our body focus from appearance to celebration, function, enjoyment and growth.
Pick up a Body Positive BINGO card at QSY to add some self care suggestions and community involvement to your New Year. We’ve got three different BINGO cards to represent the three aspects of our vision statement: Rooted in Practice, Growing Community and Cultivating Vibrant Lives. Complete a BINGO and you can bring a friend for free to a drop-in class in January or February!
Emma Dines is the creative director of Queen Street Yoga. She loves writing, visiting thrift stores and going for walks in the woods. She also loves cartwheeling, sewing and making her own kimchi.
Happy this landed with you Tyreese.