As someone who has often dealt with really bad body image, going to the gym/spin class/whatever new exercise craze is in trend always seems to end with me comparing my body to those around me rather than just focusing on my workout. 

So when I started going to yoga, I figured it would be the same. What I found instead was that most people DGAF about your belly fat, or how big your thigh gap is, or even your yoga ability. In fact, I was so wrapped up in figuring out how the heck to get my foot that far over my head that I didn't have time to judge myself.

Photo by Dominik Wycisło | Unsplash

dominikwycislo on unsplash

I wish I could say that I'm alone in feeling insecure about my body and all sorts of other parts of the complex mess that is me, but if yoga helped me with my body image, then maybe reading this and getting involved in yoga can help you lovely readers too!

1. Community of Looove

Photo by Alexis Brown | Unsplash

alexisrbrown on unsplash

Every time I walk into class, I feel more and more like I'm walking into a community that loves me unconditionally. It might sound silly, after all, most of these people are complete strangers who I have never seen before and will likely never see again. Yet, I love and accept them unconditionally because, in that room, we are a collective.

When you hear that chorus of complete strangers breathing in harmony, you know you belong. They don't need you to look any particular way or be any particular type of person; all they need from you is to breathe in and breathe out. 

2. Gets Me to Focus On Bigger Things

Black Without Apology, by William Stitt | Unsplash

willpower on unsplash

Yoga is something that takes way more concentration than I ever imagined. When I first started, the only pose I could do successfully was the one where you lay on the ground and don't move. Yup, that's how bad I was.

Taking my body from that to attempted human noodle takes so much mental power that, more often than not, there's no room left in my brain for worries about what my thighs look like, or to compare myself to the person beside me. 

3. It Makes Me Happy!

Photo by Brooke Cagle | Unsplash

brookecagle on unsplash

One of the biggest ways that yoga has helped me with my body image is that it makes me really, really happy! When I can finally nail that pose I've been struggling with, or hold my lunge for even a second longer than I did last time, I feel like I'm surrounded by a glowing halo of cheeriness. For reference, picture the religious figures in Medieval paintings.

Having all those good vibes around me makes my outlook on life and my body image that much sunnier.

4. Brings Me That Inner Peace

Tree by Water, by Marion Michele | Unsplash

marion_michele on unsplash

In yoga, I've learned a lot about being at peace with my surroundings. I've also learned about being at peace with myself (and the fact that I royally suck at yoga). I will likely always have insecurities and body image problems, but coming to peace with those realities has done wonders for how anxious it makes me.

I never thought that not actively trying to stop having insecurities would be what helped me quiet them. It's like that saying: a watched pot never boils. The more I focused on being okay with the fact that I had insecurities, the more they went away. 

Photo by Matheus Ferrero | Unsplash

matheusferrero on unsplash

When I look at myself in the mirror, there are still a million things I could pick out that I don't like, but now, instead of focusing on the bad things I try to use my magical yogi vibes to change my thoughts. I close my eyes, and I think of all the wonderful things I DO like about myself, and I just breathe. If that's all that my yoga community needs from me, then that's all that I need from me too.