Jane Lambert explores the link between body positivity and body confidence
What is body positivity? In case you’re confused, body positivity refers to the movement and the belief that all bodies are good bodies. That means that bodies of all shapes, sizes, genders, orientations, abilities and ethnicities are valid, good, and deserving of representation.
The body positive movement is distinct from body confidence. Body confidence is about your own ability to feel confident in your body. This means embracing and celebrating your own body and having confidence in it. Someone can be body confident without being body positive; the general consensus is that anyone promoting mainstream diet culture may be body confident,
but they are not necessarily body positive.
But this is the body positivity column, so I’d like to highlight some of the ways in which yoga can likewise promote body confidence. Why? Because many plus-size people may well support the body positive movement but have difficulty in actually feeling body confident. And that’s where yoga comes in: because yoga is magic.
Yoga is not about losing weight
Getting on the mat is definitely more active than sitting on the sofa, just one-more-episoding your way through the latest series of Queer Eye. But it’s not about losing weight. Removing the ‘goal’ aspect of physical activity means that you remove all the pressure. Not only are you not trying to beat your 10K personal best, you’re also not using yoga as a way to fit into a smaller pair of jeans. Removing the focus of weight-loss as a reason for physical activity means that you aren’t thinking about your body as something that needs to be fixed – it’s just something that can do great things. Which leads us nicely on to…
Yoga teaches you to appreciate your body
There are plenty of yoga poses that I find difficult: anything that relies on my twice-fractured right wrist to support me; any time that I’m expected to hold a pose for more than around five breaths. But every time I do it, I appreciate what my body is doing, even if it’s struggling. Our bodies are walking, talking miracles, and focusing on the fact that I’m overweight starts to feel really silly after I’ve finished a yoga class.
Yoga is not a competition
While you may be spending some time trying to get into Crow pose without face-planting (not me, thanks to that aforementioned weak wrist), there’s no one waiting to give you a certificate or a medal once you’ve done so. There’s no competition in yoga, it’s just you and the mat. Yoga is about self-acceptance, about getting rid of any ideas of perfection. Because, honestly, you are perfect just the way you are.
Yoga gives you the chance to focus inwards, instead of outwards
People who have never done yoga think it’s all about the bending and the stretching. But we know differently. Yoga is all about the breathing, the stillness, and the inner awareness. It is all about the personal growth and insight, the inner evolution. With a regular yoga practice, the voice that constantly tells us that our bodies are not good enough starts to sound a little silly. It becomes somewhat easier to hear that negative self-talk for what it is, rather than just accepting it as a part of life.
Alongside yoga, one of the ways that I have found to increase my own body confidence is to surround myself with people who celebrate their own bodies, regardless of the way they look. If you’re lucky, you’ve found a fabulously diverse and inclusive yoga class, filled withall sorts of different bodies. If not, I suggest seeking these people out on social media. Make sure that your feeds are filled with different body types, those who look like you, and those who don’t. Finding your own confidence every single day isn’t always easy, so take strength from and be inspired by others while you’re searching.