Thursday, 24 July 2014

Yoga makes you beautiful.

I'd like to write about something that I believe to be true, and that is the deeply transformative power of yoga.

I'm obsessed with beauty, I confess; an obsession that often feeds off insecurity and feelings of inadequacy; I have spent many hours looking in the mirror and being dissatisfied with the reflection, seeking a solution but also secretly figuring it a lost cause (in those darkest moments). Regardless of what the mirror is showing,those are some pretty ugly thoughts. And, sadly, I'm sure I'm not the only one to do so.

But this brings me to how yoga makes you beautiful:

There are the physical health benefits: yoga makes you strong, it (the chances are) will help to balance your weight, sculpting and lengthening your body from whatever you started with into something even more amazing. I'm not saying yoga turns you into the epitome of physical beauty defined by our culture, turning you into a fitness magazine model or cover girl. But it makes you strong, flexible and healthy, from wherever you're at. And that's hot.

And, it will make you feel amazing: a real, honest, deep yoga practice breaks down those barriers separating your body from your mind. You stop seeing your physical being as something - somehow - separate yet unwillingly attached to yourself, to be punished and bullied for not conforming to your desires.

It's not as simple as 'yoga makes you accept yourself', but that, through the union of mind and body created by practice, you open your heart to yourself, and the world; not only do you recognise your own beauty, but that your body can be, and is, through your actions, what you desire. No punishment/punishing routine needed. You are one.

In Sarah Rodrguez's article, 'So, you want to be hot?' from her blog (Roots, wings, and pretty things), she talks about hotness and how, on days when your look in the mirror and see what can only be described as hotlessness, you need to open your heart.

"[lipstick] can't cover up our hearts, nor is it meant to"

Step your focus away from your own warped demons, and let that truth shine through.

And finally, because I've been focusing on outward beauty, which, while is something immensely important to me, does not mean that I've lost sight of the most significant beauty of all: inward beauty.

Yoga, I believe, can make you a good person (yes, I know that not everybody who practices yoga is a saint). But, as something that draws your attention inwards and necessitates self-reflection, yoga can make you consider your impact on others and the world around you. On a day-to-day level, practising makes me calmer, kinder and happier, positively affecting the environment around me. If you look at other forms of yoga than physical practice, you will see that a non-violent stance is taken (known as ahimsa). And that's beautiful.

Yoga teacher Amy Ippoliti's video 'Thrilling Instead of Killing' about saving whale sharks demonstrates this beautiful, compassionate, spiritual (or call it what you will) self, cultivated by yoga. (And I just think the video is wonderful and inspiring and a beautiful reminder to be kinder to the world around you)

As Ippoliti states at the end of the video:

"the yoga community is very sensitive to what's going on in the world, mainly, I think, because they have a practice; a practice that brings them into their breath; a practice that brings them into their body; a practice that inherently makes them more sensitive to what's going on".

It's this practice, I believe, that makes yogis more sensitive to the world and their own bodes, halting cycles of abuse to both. Truly, our spiritually cultivating and physically sculpting Western hybrids of yoga (that I love) promote a healthy attitude and a healthy body. 

So, I'm going to say it: yoga makes the world a better, more beautiful place. Including you, and your world. 

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