Updated: Apr 4
This past weekend has been a busy one, which included attending a Photo Club and Yoga workshop around the theme of Self-Love, with the fabulous Camille Bieber. Camille and I have worked together for photoshoots, and I love their ethos.
The workshop coincided with recent discussion within my own yoga classes, where I had been calling out a few of my yogis on their negative self-talk and nit-picking. On its own, I wouldn’t have noticed the drip-dripping as much, but collectively, it became somewhat of a downpour. My yogis have been beating themselves up over their bodies, self-image, age and ability. It was time to have a talk. So, I was glad that Camille was running a self-love challenge at the same time. I was fortunate to have won my place at their workshop, and loved every moment of it.
I’m not saying that I’m not guilty of self-loathing either! Far from it! There are certainly parts of my body I detest and speak meanly to. As a yoga teacher, I’m conscious that I’m not tall or slim like many of my counterpart…or certainly the ones that are on Instagram or work in many studios. I’m very conscious of my own rolls and often joke about my bosoms being in the way. I will tell you in class that I am not a fan of shoulder stands as I feel that my breasts suffocate me in the pose. Often I will demonstrate the pose, then offer and take the supported version with a block under my lower back instead.
In fact, the other week, after a class, I was talking to my yogis when I called myself ‘fat’. The look my yogis gave me at that point, made me realise, that the ONLY person in that room that sees me as fat is me! It was quite an eye-opener. It also makes me value more the part of my body that I love the most that no one can see physically, but experiences daily, and that is my brain. It is not something you can see on a physical level, but if you get to know me, you can see it in action always- contemplative, humorous, empathetic, intuitive, analytical, artistic, always seeing the bigger picture. My mind has brought me a long way in my life, and we haven’t always seen eye to eye but somewhere in my subconscious, my mind always steers me in the right direction. It’s also a trait I encourage in my own children, to value and nourish their minds over anything else.
In the workshop, Camille encouraged us to photograph those parts of the body we hated and sit with the photograph. I’ve shared a couple here with you. They encouraged us to reframe our thinking and words around how we talked to those body parts.
It’s so easy to look at ourself in the mirror and focus on the lines forming on our face as we get older. Or to grab handfuls of our belly and berate ourself. In fact, the beauty industry encourages us to do this! Did you know the skincare market in the UK was valued at GBP £3.1 billion in the year 2021?! (globaldata.com).
Hera are a few more interesting statistics about women’s reasons for purchasing cosmetics: (statista.com)
· 35% of women buy makeup to subtly enhance their features
· 41% to conceal tiredness
· 39% to cover blemishes
· 25% to look youthful
The next time you look in the mirror, reframe how you see those lines. Move the self-talk from a negative view point, to a positive one. Think of those lines and freckle like your body’s souvenirs. Each line and freckle is a reminder to you of a sunny holiday you once had, or a really funny story you heard from a loved one.
Instead of being derisive to your belly’s rolls, thank them for reminding you of the babies you carried or the wonderful meals you’ve enjoyed with family, or the drinks you’ve had with your friends.
In fact, the next time you are staring at your ‘muffin top’, try this exercise instead.
Take your hands, and place them on your lower belly, with the fingertips pointing downwards, making an upside-down triangle. This is called a Yoni Mudra. Yoni means womb in Sanskrit. The yoni mudra is linked to strong female energy and the Hindu Goddess, Kali. Using this hand gesture (mudra) helps us to connect to our feminine power and intuition, further connecting to our inner selves and the divine feminine energy of the universe and give us a sense of empowerment.
Once you have placed your hands on the lower belly, take a few moments here, closing down the eyes or lowering your gaze, and give thanks to this amazing womb-space that you possess. Thank it for all that it has done for you. Envision yourself loving this space, perhaps mentally writing a love letter to this space.
Another great trick to try, (encouraged by Camille) is to decorate those parts of the body you hate, and then photograph them. I shared my photos with my family, and I was surprised by their reactions when I told them these were parts of my body I didn’t like! One was my nose- my daughter and her friend were shocked by this! They told me I had a beautiful and perfect nose, despite my protestations that I thought it was too long and pointy.
My husband loved my photos of my belly, and complimented it instead.
So, my advice is to try this. You might be surprised at what your loved ones say to you.
And the next time you catch yourself speaking negatively to yourself, rephrase the words into words of loving kindness for yourself. Kindness always starts with yourself, and then you can offer kindness to others.
If you are in London and would like to check out Camille’s work or their workshops (especially if you love photography), head over to their website https://www.camillemariebieber.com/