5 Ways Self-Compassion Promotes a Healthy Body Image

When it comes to appearance, we’re often too hard on ourselves.

In this age of social media, we’re surrounded by idealized images of beauty more than ever before. These images can create expectations that are impossible to meet, leaving us feeling inadequate and ashamed about our own looks. It’s no surprise, then, that a majority of young women and many men feel insecure about some aspect of their appearance.

As “normal” as body dissatisfaction may seem, it can have serious negative effects. For some people, it can lead to eating disorders or other mental illness. But even if it doesn’t reach those extremes, it can detract from quality of life in other ways. For example, research has shown that body image concerns can impair academic performance and reduce sexual pleasure in both men and women.

One way to address body dissatisfaction is to change the way we think about our bodies, shifting the focus from evaluation and critique to care and appreciation. Recent research suggests that self-compassion may be particularly helpful for easing appearance-related concerns and promoting a positive body image. Here are five ways it works.
1. It puts media images into perspective. One major source of body shame comes from taking media images of beauty to heart and feeling compelled to live up to them. In one study, self-compassionate women were less likely to internalize media pressure to be thin or to engage in disordered eating related to media exposure. But self-compassion goes beyond simply turning the tables on which body types are valued and which ones are disparaged. Instead, it involves acknowledging that beauty comes in many forms, and that no one is perfect.

2. It helps us stay in tune with our physical states. Attention is a limited resource: When we’re focused on how our body looks, we’re often less aware of how it feels—and therefore less in touch with signs of hunger and fullness, feelings of pleasure and pain, and even the sensation of our heartbeat. Research suggests that self-compassion is associated with lower levels of self-objectification, the tendency to habitually take an observer’s perspective on one’s own body rather than experiencing it from the inside out.

3. It makes us appreciate what our bodies can do. Because self-compassion is rooted in a genuine sense of care and concern for our psychological and physical well-being, it should lead us to view our bodies as precious and motivate us to be loving and kind to our physical selves, rather than harshly self-critical. Consistent with this idea, one study found that participants who completed three weeks of self-compassion meditation training reported an increase in body appreciation, which involves feelings of body acceptance and respect.

4. It reduces self-punishment. Being compassionate about perceived body flaws doesn’t necessarily take away their sting, but it can minimize the extent to which feeling unattractive makes people feel worthless or undeserving. In one study, exposure to a self-compassion intervention reduced the extent to which participants based their self-worth on their appearance, and in another, participants who were more self-compassionate about a perceived body flaw were less likely to report that they turned down a chocolate candy (offered by the experimenter) in order to punish themselves.

5. It makes other people allies, not competition. One of the key components of self-compassion is common humanity, which refers to the recognition that other people struggle too. That friend who seems to always look perfect on social media is probably spending a lot of time behind the scenes setting up their shots and deleting outtakes—and might have plenty of insecurities of their own. When other people become targets of social comparison and competition, we might miss what’s really going on with them under the surface, and we might berate ourselves for failing to live us to standards that aren’t even real.

Specific practices for increasing appearance-related self-compassion are described in this article and are available here under Practices. Research suggests that making a habit of these practices can lead to lasting improvements in body image. 

Source: Juliana Breines Ph.D for Psychology Today 

Anahata Chakra -About, Asana & Suggested Journaling Questions 

  
Source 

Anahata Chakra is more commonly known as the Heart Chakra. The literal Sanskrit translation of “anahata” is “unhurt, unstuck, or unbeaten.” The Heart Chakra is perfectly situated in the middle of your body, balancing the world of matter (lower three chakras) with the world of spirit (upper three chakras).

The Sanskrit word implies that deep beneath our personal stories of suffering and pain lies boundless love and compassion.

Determining whether your chakras are balanced is quite an elusive subject; people often seek healers or reiki masters to rebalance them, when it’s just as easy to look inward and dig deeper within yourself. 

Signs your heart chakra may be blocked include feelings of shyness and loneliness. If you have an inability to forgive or a tendency to lack empathy, then you may be leading with your head more often than your heart.

Flip that the opposite way and an overpowering chakra can include feelings of codependency, and looking outward for acceptance or fulfillment. Intense jealousy or harsh judgment of others is also a red flag.

If you fall into the blocked category, figuring out how to rebalance your chakras really boils down to repressed emotions. Whether it’s a traumatic event stemming from childhood that you can’t even remember, or a grudge you’re holding so tightly from last week. When you repress your feelings, your heart chakra’s balance gets out of whack.

Try to set these three intentions to extinguish your repressed emotions, whether you’re consciously aware of them or not:

1. Be open with your emotions.

Any way you want! Whether you write them down or scream out loud, you need to let them out. Be extremely honest and open with every word; don’t hold anything back. Write coming from the heart — it’s always painful, but it’s part of the healing process. Even if you have no intention of anyone else reading what you write, it’s so helpful to put your feelings into words so that you can become comfortable, aware, and at peace with it.

2. Stop clinging to your feelings.

You get what you give. Practicing yoga really helps with this, because it teaches you to live in the present moment. Dwelling in past loves or past problems only brings us down, and if we stress about the future then we aren’t living fully. Like most things in life, it’s easier said than done. Do yourself a favor and consciously work on this one!

3. Practice the art of acceptance.

A good rule of thumb is “If you can’t change it, forget it.” Why stress about something or someone you have no control over? It’s a waste of time and energy. Instead, focus on what you can control. That’s what will bring you contentment and happiness. Set your daily intention to going with the flow and letting it be.

Try incorporating these three reminders into your daily life, and always remember that love is the greatest healer. Especially love for yourself. Keeping this intention while practicing asana will help open your heart. A few great poses to aid you in “opening your heart” are camel pose, eagle pose, and a back-bending practice. The heart chakra is represented by the color green. Eat more dark green leafy vegetables and drink green tea.

  
Suggested questions for journaling: 

How do I show myself love and compassion?

How do I give love and compassion to others?

In what ways am I generous/stingy?

What am I grateful for in this moment?

How can I cultivate empathy for people close to me as well as acquaintances and even strangers?

Source

The Gentle Beauty of Yin Yoga – Love It Or Your Money Back!

Yin yoga was developed to penetrate deep into connective tissue expanding flexibility while invigorating the energy centers of the body (nadis) to release blockages and increase your energy flow.

Yin yoga was developed to penetrate deep into connective tissue expanding flexibility while invigorating the energy centers of the body (nadis) to release blockages and increase your energy flow.

Many people have asked me about Yin yoga after seeing it on our new October schedule – what it is, why they should try it and why it’s different to our usual flow classes. And since we aim to please at our little riverside yoga studio, here is some information that may help you to decide whether it’s something you want to add to your practice (the answer is yes, by the way):

A quiet, meditative yoga practice, also called taoist yoga, Yin focuses on lengthening connective tissues and is meant to complement yang yoga—your muscle-forming flow that is most often practiced in Western studios. Yin poses are passive, meaning you’re supposed to relax muscles and let gravity do the work. And they’re long—you’ll practice patience here too.

Yin Yoga uses gentle long held postures practiced with an attitude of compassionate acceptance to awaken the more Yin parts of our physical, emotional and spiritual selves. It is an amazing practice that is dominantly seated, that focuses on bringing health and vitality back to body/mind/spirit through the manipulation of the fascia (connective tissue), the energy body and all sensations and emotions that come along for the ride. Its a profound practice, very insightful and carries a wealth of healing knowledge that can be applied to anybody. A lot of yin is allowing yourselves to be tender and wise within our own forms.  There is so much wisdom in the water and tissues in the body, we simply must create a safe and relaxed setting for this wisdom and energy to flow. Yin helps to still the body, setting it shapes that allow us to target the areas where energy tends to get stuck.

Yin focuses on the hips, pelvis and spine mostly but because the body cannot be separated into parts and sides, yin yoga examines the body as a connected unit of tissues that communicate, contain or liberate other aspects of the body. We can all relate to that feeling stuck or out of place feeling in the body. We know what it needs to flow, with inside and out.

Yin has a few simple principles. Find the shape that works for you. Victoria will guide you into the pose but you may find that you need to adjust it slightly to suit your own body (as with ‘normal’ yang yoga) – until it feels right. Turn the muscles off, relax the body, deepen the breath, stay present and hold for time. Seems simple right? Looks like it from the external appearance,but on the inside we are looking for and hanging out in the places in the body where we tend to hold, resist and feel stuck in. It’s in the tension in the body that we can unlock the keys to healing, realigning and becoming stable in who we are. The long holds and focus on breath in Yin means that classes have this air of meditation and the same feeling of otherworldiness only long breathing sessions and moving of blockages can do. I recently did one of Victoria’s Yin classes and I felt like I was floating by the end of the class – even speaking felt like it was too loud and jarring after the peaceful atmosphere she created so masterfully. Her beautiful Norwegian accent and her ability to hold the silences without needing to fill them with words just helped to make it a truly magical experience.

I really, really, really recommend that everyone tries one of these classes at least once. See it as the biggest and kindest gift and token of self love that you could give yourself this month. You will not regret it. In fact, if you don’t like it, I will give you your money back. So please, go to one and feed back to me how it was, so I can put my money where my mouth is. No pressure, Vic!

I took a lot of this information from a lovely site called ‘Love Light Yoga’ – check them out if you want to show them some love.