When we look into our mirrors, we only sometimes look at the actuality of our bodies. How we view our bodies is highly subjective and is a significant factor in the level of satisfaction with our bodies and the way we feel regarding our bodies. A person with reasonable body satisfaction is happy with and cares for their body, despite its actual or perceived flaws. In contrast, people with less content are less likely to alter their behavior due to unhappiness with their bodies. They might stay away from social settings, obsess over imperfections, exercise too much, or follow an unhealthy diet and feel guilt or shame over their appearance.
What can a person do to improve their body’s overall satisfaction? Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., MPH, Director of the Division and Professor, Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota, has discovered a strong connection between body satisfaction and yoga as she found that people who have regular yoga routines had more body satisfaction than those who didn’t.
Yoga and Body Satisfaction
In Neumark-Sztainer’s research, 46 teens who practiced yoga for at least 30 minutes per week were asked questions about their body image. They are part of a more significant health and well-being study conducted by Neumark-Sztainer titled Project Eat. 83% of the people interviewed reported that yoga positively impacts their body image, and they also had more body satisfaction than the rest of the people who participated in the study.
These findings confirm the findings of previous research. As a Ph.D. student from Washington State University, Sara Clancy studied 32 college students who needed more yoga experience in her dissertation. The study found that half the students participated in the 10-week yoga course while the rest did nothing. After ten weeks, the yoga group had higher body satisfaction than at the beginning, whereas the non-yoga groups did not. Clancy also observed that the group practicing yoga ended up having greater acceptance, awareness, and spirituality, as well as a connection between mind and body, as well as body compassion and mindfulness of the body, the self, and the functional body.
An Australian research study of 8,009 females between 34 to 39 with varying BMIs found similar results. Of the women with 65% who were in their “normal” weight range, those who had regular exercise or practice of meditation routine were much more likely to say that they were happy with their body shape and weight over those who had no yoga routine. Yoga-loving women who engaged in yoga and meditation were more inclined to exercise and adhere to the low-glycemic diet or diet book instead of smoking cigarettes or fasting, as is more common among women who suffer from overweight.
The relationship between body satisfaction and yoga can be seen across genders, as demonstrated in Mary Flaherty’s 2014 study. Drawing males in figure form, this study examined the body image of 82 active males aged between 40 and 60. The 48 participants who took yoga classes were discovered to have significantly greater body satisfaction than males in the other group, even though the men were engaged in other forms of fitness.
Can Yoga Also Harm Our Body Satisfaction
Although all this research and evidence indicates that we can increase the satisfaction of our bodies by doing yoga, there’s one caveat. In the Neumark-Sztainer study that found 28% of yoga practitioners, we observed that yoga’s impact could also be harmful, mainly due to comparisons of physique and performance to the other students in classes.
Neumark-Sztainer suggests a few tweaks that studios and teachers can create to lessen the impact of that perception of competition. She means that teachers talk about the body as a gesture of gratitude and discuss the health benefits of this practice instead of toning or appearing reasonable. It is also essential for studios to make it evident that all body types are accepted in every class. To do this, studios must review their advertising, social media, and websites, ensuring they have an equal representation of all different types of bodies. If the studio is equipped with mirrors, teachers could encourage students only to use them to align their bodies.
How to Create an Individual Habit that helps you improve your body Image
What if you do your practice at your own home? What are the best ways to ensure your training is nourishing and not a source of judgment? First, locate the space that feels secure and unaffected by the decision that allows the concentration on how your body feels, not on how it appears. For the individual, “safe” might mean the space in which you can be alone, an area that doesn’t have mirrors, or simply wearing clothes that feel at ease and allow all thoughts about your body to melt away. Try these methods in addition:
Allow to practice. Recognize that yoga is a way of life. It’s not about being perfect or reaching any goals. Let loose of the need for perfection, and dive deep into your journey.
The core should be strengthened. This is not about hard abs; the body, also known as the Manipura chakra, is about self-esteem and self-love. If we can increase the power of our core, we can improve our self-esteem.
It would help if you moved in a manner that is comfortable for you. This may mean altering certain poses to improve your alignment, but it could also be identifying a type of practice that is a good fit for you. Whatever the case, it’s essential to be true to yourself and do your style, of course.