Can you say, ‘I love my body’?

lovebody I collided in to a friend this morning on the street, the Universe throwing together our highly energetic personalities to have a perfectly-timed chat about body image and self love. See, she’s in her forties, a fit, feisty and shiny woman who is currently embarking on another venture to compete in a fitness competition. This training game isn’t new to her - she has competed a few times before in the last decade, each time left feeling exhausted, depleted, malnourished and hating on her body - not just after the 24 weeks of preparation and sparkly show time, but while she stood on the stage under artificial lights looking on to her banging bod on display with judging eyes - the moment she had been waiting for, to bring glory and success - she noticed a dark void (time and time again) within that was deeply unhappy with how she looked and felt.

This is way too common among women for my liking. (and men.) In fact, I feel fiercely saddened that we are rejecting the millions of processes our body performs for us, without recognition, and instead seeking perfection in superficial ideals. We become enslaved to an idea of a particular shape, size, skin tone and the rest that depicts the image in the likeness of God that our media-conditioned, vulnerable and sensitive selves falls for. And I know you’ve heard it all before. Dove created a worldwide 'real beauty' campaign (whilst generating mass profit in products), Bieber sung ‘Baby, you should go and love yourself’ and the spiritual movement has spat out squillions of self-love articles that you like, share and quote.

BUT, I ask you - can you honestly, wholeheartedly and truthfully say, ‘I love my body’? Can you make that statement with conviction and soul? No matter how many affirmations you stick around your mirror, or yoga classes you take, or your acts of rebellion against typical ideals of beauty, are you any closer to finding that resonance within the map of your own skin?

I believe this is incredibly important. Not only for our own comfort and acceptance, but for how we show up in the world to serve others.

As a yoga teacher finding my way in the wellness world, I certainly have those moments where I catch a mirror reflection of my belly hanging over my leggings, not engaging with the ‘sucking-in’ habit we are so used to in our society. I’ve made a commitment to smile every time I notice this - rather than draw my belly in, in response to seeing myself all hang out, I take a deep breath in and exhale freely without restraint. It is within these tiny moments of opportunity that we take back our power and start to liberate ourselves from everything we think we know. Begin to listen closer to the words that you use when describing your present physical condition with others and see if you can switch the channel to focus on all the things KEEPING YOU ALIVE rather than the explicitly irrelevant things you wish were different.

How crazy it is, that we let a zit hide our light, or a few extra kilos trick us in to believing we can’t get wear that dress that makes us feel golden or not ripped enough to jog in just a sports bra? In only a few years down the track - you’ll look back on yourself now, at how beautiful your youth was, how radiantly healthy you were, and remember that you didn’t even love yourself then.

Self-love is a god damn priority. Your divine body is worthy of your gratitude right fucking now. It is no one else’s job to validate who you are physically - but through a string of practices, self-talk, rituals and activities that ignite the love for the little things and slowly empower you.

My friend swears this competition is different. She feels more present and in relationship with her body than ever before, including a swaggering confidence in her stride and sexiness in her aura. I’m proud to see proof that transformation is possible - it's an ongoing journey, it can be dirty, dark work, without the instant self-gratification we are hungry for - but the results produce a succulent, embodied woman that no amount of make up, achievements or exercise can actualise.

Be free in breathing in to your belly,