How one woman found yoga, eased her inner hunger, and started loving herself. Follow Kimber as she shares her journey to loving her body, the joys and sorrows of yoga teaching, and venturing into the wilderness of writing and publishing.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friendship 101: It’s really that simple

Is your body your friend? If the answer is yes, wonderful. If no, then how do you become friends with your body? It turns out friendship is pretty simple. Most friendships develop from three things that build on each other:

1. Shared interests

2. Shared experiences

3. Shared affection

Say you go to a yoga class that you really enjoy. You go every week, and the faces start to become familiar, you even get to know a few names. Spending a lot of time next to each other in downward dog tends to be a great ice-breaker, who knows why? Eventually through your shared interest in yoga (and your experiences in full wheel pose), you get together for tea and find out that you both love to hike. You go on a couple of hikes together and find out that you like their friends and you love their sense of humor (not to mention their amazing homemade granola bars) and they start to grow on you.

You’re friends.

Becoming friends with your body can really be that simple, if you let it. What are your shared interests? Let’s see, you and your body probably enjoy feeling good, laughing, and relaxing, to name just a few.

You both likely love feeling strong, healthy, and alive, like a superhero without the cape.

So what are your shared experiences that help you feel this way?

1. Eating well (eating healthy food, neither over- nor under-eating)

2. Engaging daily in enjoyable movement

3. Getting enough sleep

4. Spending time with people you love

5. Serving your life’s purpose (being a parent, working hard, helping out, etc.)

Just like in a regular friendship, these shared interests and experiences naturally lead to shared affection if we let them.

You develop a sense of respect for your body’s abilities and support, affection for its quirks, and encouragement for its difficulties. So why don’t we all automatically feel like our body is our friend? I mean, we spend a lot of time with our bodies… every experience we’ve ever had is one we shared with our bodies. We should all be BFFs with our bodies “4 EVA”! Right?

But no. We indulge a little too excessively in that brutally effective friendship killer, judgment.

Judging ourselves constantly and comparing ourselves endlessly to other bodies interferes with the natural friendship we could experience with our bodies. Imagine if you had a friend who constantly berated you for not being as coordinated as their other friend, for not working as hard as this person they read about in a magazine, for not living up to some abstract standard they’ve decided upon. Would you feel friendly towards them? Would you want to spend more time with them or less? Wouldn’t your “interests” start to diverge?

Everything you need to be friends with your body is already in place.

All we really need is to remove the impediments. Let go of judgment toward your body and ask yourself these questions:

1. Can I make this experience enjoyable for my body?

2. How does my body make this experience possible?

3. Can I appreciate my body’s ability and support at this moment?

You are meant to be friends with your body. Let go of anything that stands in the way of that friendship. You and your body deserve it.

I know, I said I was taking a hiatus from the blog, and here’s a new post already. Surprise! Maybe there’ll be another one headed your way before the new year, who knows?

Love Your Body Blog Part 68

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Right Tool

Last week, the garden showed up first on my to-do list, so I braved our messy basement to look for the rake. The rake was AWOL.

My partner had lent it out. What to do? My first tool of choice, gone, and an hour get my gardening chores done. I love the rake. When you turn it upside down, it does a fairly good job of getting those pesky little weeds out of the garden path. Thanks to the early fall rains, tons of weeds had made their beds in the gravel.

Frustrated, I started pulling out tools; no, the pickaxe won’t work. Nix the shovels, the posthole digger, the flat hoe, the… what the heck is this? I extracted an unrecognizable piece of rusty metal stuck on the end of a long handle. This tool did not belong to me, or my partner. This tool had obviously been in the basement since long before we moved in.

Given the state of the backyard when we moved in, it probably hadn’t been used since before I was born.

Rusty and dented… this tool was perfect. I scraped the metal stirrup along the gravel and it magically disrupted all the baby weeds, roots first. This tool was faster and better than the rake. Way better. Thanks to the magic of Google, I discovered the name of my new favorite tool was---surprise!--- the stirrup hoe. I am in love with my stirrup hoe.

A certain irony was not lost on me: If I hadn’t experienced the frustration of not having my preferred tool at hand, I never would have discovered the beautiful stirrup hoe. If my other tool hadn't gone missing, I never would have found the one that made my life easier and better.

Lately in the Love Your Body workshop, I’ve been talking about all the practices we learn as tools in our toolbox that we can use to love our bodies in various situations and under different stresses. We can get dependant on a couple of these tools, our go-to devices that help us everyday, until one day they go AWOL.

When that happens, dig a little deeper to find the tools you’ve forgotten about, that you had no idea were laying down there with the odd screws and nails.

You might find that suddenly the lovingkindness practice you haven’t thought of in years arises as deeply relevant and compelling. That dialoguing with your demon instantly brings relief. That pausing and asking your body what it needs is just what you need. That not only do these revived tools suddenly work, but that they are perfect for your life and your body right now.

Your Love Your Body toolbox has dependability and depth, and can set the unexpectedly perfect tool in your hand just when it’s needed.

Stay tuned for my lineup of Love Your Body Workshops for 2012, one starting Feb 1 at Namaste Grandlake, one at Yogakula SF in April, and more to come. Drop me a line if you know someplace you'd like me to bring the workshop.

Plus, I have some exciting news… I am taking a hiatus from the blog for a couple of months to finish revising my first book, Full: How one woman found yoga, eased her inner hunger and started loving herself, so that I can self-publish it in the new year. No more waiting! Are you ready to have the book in your hands? So am I. I might drop in a blog here or there to update you on my progress, we’ll see.

Also, in February, I’ll be starting a Love Your Body six-month mentorship group, where we have weekly check-ins and get together once a month for love your body classes and activities. Only a small group of women will be able to join me for this special program and the price range will be about $600. So consider if you’d like to make this commitment to your relationship with your body. I’ll send out more information via this blog, email, and facebook, as more details are confirmed.

Blessings to you on all your Love Your Body journeys! Kimber

Love Your Body Blog Part 67

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fat Doesn’t Equal Failure

There’s a woman I know. You know her. In fact, she might be you. She might be my mom, or my sister, or even me. She’s smart. She’s accomplished. She’s compassionate and loving. She’s changing the world in her own way. And she thinks she’s a failure. Why? Because she’s fat. Or at least she thinks she’s fat. Whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter, because she believes it. She believes that she is fatter than she “should” be. No accomplishment in her life competes with her less-than-ideal body. She will always think of herself as having failed.

Or will she?

Here’s the question I want to ask her… who has the right to tell you you’re not beautiful just the way you are? Who?

Possible answers include:

1. Everyone

2. Madison Avenue

3. Hollywood

4. Simon Cowell

5. the clerk at Macy’s

6. your dad/mom/uncle/grandmother/sister/step-brother

7. your husband/boyfriend/partner

8. your boss/ex-boss/coworker

9. the girls in your sixth grade gym class

10. ______________________ [fill in the blank]

11. No one.

The only correct answer to this question is 11. No one has been given the official seal of the universe to infallibly dispense the label of beauty upon those few who meet some absurd, arbitrary ideal. Your beauty is not up for public approval, national referendum, or The Galaxy’s Next Top Model.

Your beauty is self-apparent to everyone who loves you.

In Brene Brown’s wonderful TED talk about love and connection (watch it here), she says the difference between people who feel a sense of worthiness and belonging and people who don’t is that… they feel a sense of worthiness and belonging. Yes I know, it’s a tautology. You see, the difference isn’t that they come from wealthy families or poor families, or that they had happy childhoods or unhappy ones.

The difference is their belief about themselves.

Brown’s research doesn’t cover this, but I suspect that the difference between people who believe that they are beautiful and people who don’t… is simply a belief in their own beauty. The difference is not between women who are 5’10”, weigh 120 lbs, and look like Kate Moss and women who are 5’5”, weigh 220 lbs, and look like Gertrude Stein. The difference is not that women who obsess about their weight and diet feel beautiful and women who don’t feel ugly. (Interestingly, the opposite may be more true!)

The difference is simple: whether or not you believe you are beautiful.

No one has the right to define beauty in a way that excludes you. Not even you. Beauty is not objective. Even normative ideas of beauty change enormously over history and between cultures.

Why do we allow ourselves to feel terrible about our bodies? Is it true that a woman can solve global poverty, cure cancer, invent cold fusion, plant a tree, or raise a happy child, and still look in the mirror and feel like a failure because her body doesn’t match some idea in her head about what it should look like?

You deserve better. You deserve to feel beautiful whatever your body looks like or feels like.

I think of Karen Carpenter, the singer who haunted my dreams as a child. Her voice was gorgeous and pure, she was an accomplished drummer, and a beautiful woman. Yet she always believed she was fat, and therefore ugly. All of her success musically meant nothing to her if she was fat, and she starved herself to death as a result. You can see clearly how ridiculous Karen Carpenter’s misplaced beliefs were. Can you see that in yourself?

Why is fat the be-all and end-all of beauty? So what if you’re fat, or if you think you’re fat? Let yourself be fat and beautiful. Let yourself be beautiful with these five extra pounds, with these fifty extra pounds, with whatever number of extra pounds you imagine you have. Let them be beautiful too. Screw anyone who doesn’t believe you’re beautiful. They aren’t the boss of your beauty or anyone else’s.

You’re smart. You know better.

Treat yourself better.

P.S. The last Love Your Body workshop of 2011 happens this Sun, Oct 23 in Livermore! Let me know if you want to join us!

Love Your Body Blog Part 66

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Body, the Beer-Swilling, TV-Watching Couch Surfer

Have you ever thought to yourself…?

“If I listen to my body, it will tell me to lie prone on the couch and eat chocolate-covered potato chips until I can’t move.”

“If I trust my body, I’ll never make myself go to the gym and I’ll devour pints of Ben and Jerry’s like they’re peanuts.”

“If I pay attention to my body’s needs, I’ll become a boneless sloth with nothing to live for.”

“If I love my body, the skies will rain blood, birds will explode for no reason, and the world will get sucked into a cosmic death spiral to the tune of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.”

Really? Is it true that your body has the personality of a lazy, ravenous, good-for-nothing wastrel who only wants to lie back and see if Wile. E. Coyote finally catches the Roadrunner?

I used to think that. I was pretty sure that if I listened to my body I would eat nothing but mint chocolate cookie ice cream and sleep all the time: I would get fat. Or fatter.

The first time you listen to your body feels like standing at the top of a ridge and trusting the air to catch you and cradle you safely to the earth below.

It’s an impossibly scary and exhilarating leap of faith in yourself: that your body’s wisdom exists and you can trust it wholly. Every fear will shape itself into a looming doubt to keep you from jumping and knowing the truth about yourself.

Here’s the truth:

1. Your body is an animal.

2. Your body knows what makes it feel good.

3. Your body loves to move.

4. Your body doesn’t want to overeat or undereat.

5. Your body doesn’t want to be injured by too much movement or too little movement.

Your body wants to feel good. Let it show you what it needs. Let your body catch you.

[Here’s another truth: your body needs fat. You can’t live without it. Don’t be at war with fat, on you, in you, or on anyone else. Fat is not the enemy.]

I used to think that I was the kind of person who couldn’t control herself around food. If I started a candy bar, I finished the whole thing. I figured that listening to my body meant I wouldn’t stop with just one candy bar; you’d find me in a heap of chocolate-smeared wrappers at the bottom of the box.

Imagine my surprise, when after listening to my body for a while, I learned that it doesn’t like candy bars. My body feels irritable and tired when I eat gobs of sugar. Nowadays my body says, “One bite of cake would be perfect. One small piece of that chocolate bar would be delicious. Half a truffle is just right.”

For years I rolled my eyes at people who said crap like that. Really? You can stop at half a truffle? Bullshit. Not me.

Yeah, me.

You, too.

Here’s a good place to start. Below is Linda Bacon’s “Live Well Pledge,” a list of aspirations that invite you to listen to and trust your body:

Today, I will try to feed myself when I am hungry.

Today, I will try to be attentive to how foods taste and make me feel.

Today, I will try to choose foods that I like and that make me feel good.

Today, I will try to honor my body’s signals of fullness.

Today, I will try to find an enjoyable way to move my body.

Today, I will try to look kindly at my body and to treat it with love and respect.

Seriously, does this look like a recipe for bedsores? No way. This is the recipe for being able to eat what you what, when you want, as much as you want, and no more than you want, for moving your body in ways that it loves, and for treating yourself like a goddess, not like a caged tiger.

For me, loving my body is the recipe for feeling the best I’ve ever felt in my life, for enjoying food more, for being in better shape than I’ve ever been… and not by forcing myself to do things I hate, but by letting my body do what it loves.

In the words of Mary Oliver:

You don’t have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

from “Wild Geese”

Your body is the fount of tremendous wisdom. Are you ready to listen?

Thanks to Tammi Baliszewski of Empower Radio, whose interview with me today inspired this blogpost, and follow up with Linda Bacon's Live Well Pledge by reading her book, Heath At Every Size.

Love Your Body Blog Part 65

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Please stare at me.

Go ahead. It’s your special assignment. You will need: about five dollars, your reusable mug, and at least 45 minutes.

Your Assignment:

1. Go to a café and order your favorite drink. You know, the Americano, the frappaccino (my son fondly calls them “crappacinos”), or the machiatto. Whatever. Just make sure the café has people in it. Lots of them. Deserted cafes are not appropriate for this exercise, unless you don’t mind making the baristas uncomfortable.

2. Now sit down at a table and… stare at people. Actually, look at them out of the corners of your eyes while wearing dark sunglasses. Better? Find some position where you can discretely watch the folks around you.

3. Notice how the woman in front of you is standing. What do you like about her? Maybe you covet her jacket, or admire how she wears her hair. Look for something good about her. Maybe you like the way she’s patient with her child, or how she’s moving her head to the music of her ipod.

4. Look more closely. Does she look like she feels comfortable in her body? Does she inhabit the space around her on shrink into herself? Does she seem unselfconscious or the opposite? Does she seem caring? Harried? Bored? Content? Did she notice you looking at her? Did she smile or scowl?

5. Go on to the man behind you and notice the same things. Notice the outer appearance first, notice something you like, then go on and look for the more subtle clues about how they carry themselves, how they feel about themselves in the world.

6. Find someone whose energy you find appealing. After looking at a few people, feel free to come back to someone you already looked at.. Maybe they reflect something you don’t normally experience, a quiet serenity or a buoyant sassiness. Maybe it’s someone who looks at home in her (or his) body and happy to be alive, or someone who inhabits the space around her easily, confidently. Whoever it is, whatever the feeling is, close your eyes and imagine what it feels like to embody that in the world. Breathe in the energy of that feeling: confidence, enjoyment, and well-being. Sit in a way that reflects those feelings in your body and heart. Invite that feeling into yourself.

Perhaps you’re wondering, why should I sit in a café and stare at people? Thanks for asking.

1. You learn to look beyond the surface.

2. You learn to see the good in people, both at and below the surface.

3. You notice how the energy of other people affects you. Some people, you want to imitate how they are in their bodies. Other people, you definitely don’t.

4. You see how often a person’s appearance doesn’t translate into feeling good about themselves. A person who has what you consider the ideal body type might seem very unhappy. Another person whose body type you don’t appreciate much, might seem very confident and at ease within themselves.

5. Many of the people we “see” in our lives are actors and models on screens and billboards. When we look at real people we learn to see and appreciate the diversity of bodies all around us.

Expand your ability to appreciate and learn from the folks around you just by pausing and noticing their bodies and energy. Offer a blessing out to those who seem to need one and invite in the energy of those who look like they have some to spare. You may be the one who shifts someone else’s energy!

[As a side note, you might want to try this exercise in the Actual Café in Oakland on San Pablo at Alcatraz. I hear they have some spontaneous Love Your Body artwork in progress. Check it out on the way to the bathroom. Thanks for the tip, Laura L.!]

Love Your Body Blog Part 64

Friday, September 30, 2011

Teach Your Children [to Love Their Bodies] Well

Do you teach your child to treat her body like a scapegoat, or like a treasured friend?

In the first post of this blog, I shared the story of Emily, the little girl who said, “My body is my best friend!” Emily’s relationship with her body inspired me to break open the vault of my self-hatred and turn the lead into gold. Kids can teach us a lot about loving our bodies… how to roll down grassy hills, cannonball into a lake, jump for joy, and spin until we fall over. How to have fun in our bodies for the grass-stained, muddy-kneed delight of it.

Most kids are already experts at how to enjoy and love their kid bodies. What they learn from us is how adults relate to their bodies. Here are the top five things kids learn about bodies from the adults in their lives:

1. Never compliment your own body. In fact, put your body down every time you look at it. Never miss an opportunity to criticize your body in front of other people.

2. If an item of clothing looks bad on you, it’s your body’s fault. If you’re in a bad mood, it’s probably your body’s fault too. If you didn’t get a date last week, or the job you wanted, you guessed it, it’s your body’s fault. Any time you’re pissed off about anything, it’s probably because your body is sabotaging you.

3. It’s okay to make fun of fat people, because it’s not okay to be fat.

4. It’s fine to talk about how your friend needs to go on a diet behind their back, or even to their face.

5. Exercise should be difficult, painful, and hard to force yourself to do. You should force yourself to do it anyway, and feel bad about yourself if you don’t.

I know, a lot of these are cringe-worthy, and you could swear you’ve never done any of them in front of a child. But you know how kids are; they’re sponges. They soak up every comment muttered under your breath in front of a mirror, every overheard conversation about someone’s “weight problem,” every time we smile and nod at a fat joke instead of calling people on it. Kids are natural imitators. Every gesture, movement, and facial expression you make in their presence gets filed away in their brains under the heading, “This Is How Adults Act.” They will try out everything in that file at least once on their way to figuring out what kind of adult they’re going to be. You don’t even have to write these rules up and post them on the fridge: almost every girl knows these rules by heart by the time she’s twelve (if not much earlier), and every boy by at least fourteen.

The good news is you can change the rules.

Here’s what you do:

1. Compliment yourself out loud in front of the mirror everyday. Some days your kid will overhear you and think you’re nuts. But slowly the message will sink in… it’s okay to appreciate your body.

2. Compliment your child’s body, physical ability, appearance. Your hair looks great today. Your handstand is amazing. Your body is so strong!

3. Never-ever-ever criticize your body in front of anyone else, especially not your child. In fact, get out of the habit of criticizing your body, even in your own head. Your body is not a scapegoat for whatever is wrong today. If a swimsuit looks crappy on you, it’s the swimsuit’s fault… not your body’s. Address the true causes of feeling bad instead of blaming it on your weight or size.

4. Don’t make fat jokes. Don’t laugh at fat jokes. You probably don’t tell racist or homophobic jokes and you sure don’t teach your kids to laugh at them. Being fat is a natural part of human diversity. Read nutritionist Linda Bacon’s book, Health At Every Size to understand the function and myths about fat in our lives.

5. Respect other people’s bodies. Don’t make weight and dieting a topic of conversation. Aren’t there more important things to talk about? World peace? Organ donation? How to survive the impending zombie apocalypse? (By the way, it’s fine to make fun of zombies.)

6. Have fun exercising! Let your child see you having fun exercising. Do exercise you love, and while it’s fine to complain (a little) about aches and pains, emphasize how much you enjoy dancing, swimming, biking, skiing, hiking, skating, surfing, hula-hooping, whatever your body loves to do.

7. You don’t have to tell your child, “I love my body and you should love yours too.” Instead, live it! Let your whole life reflect the love and appreciation you have for your body and your child will soak it up like a sponge in a bubble bath.

Live in your body the way you want your child to live in theirs. Treat your body with love and your child will learn… this is how adults treat their bodies.

Love Your Body Blog Part 63

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Universe Loves Your Body

Have you heard of Pronoia? Apparently my spell-checker hasn’t… the almighty Microsoft dictionary in the sky underlines it in squiggly red.

According to Rob Brezsny (who literally wrote the book on it), Pronoia is “the suspicion that the universe is a conspiracy on your behalf.”

What if, instead of believing everyone is out to get us, we believed that everyone is out there to help us? Can we be pronoic in loving our bodies? Everything in the world is there to remind us to love and care for and be a better friend to our bodies.

“All of creation is conspiring to shower us with blessings. Life is crazily in love with us—brazenly and innocently in love with us. The universe always gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.” Rob Brezsny, Pronoia is the Antidote to Paranoia.

What if today you treated everything life offers you as a reminder to love your body?

You turn on warm water in the shower: love your body

You sip your favorite tea… mmm, your body savors it

The toast is burned. You throw it in the compost and make another piece: your body thanks you.

You get into the car without slamming your fingers in the door: yay, body!

You pass a billboard for liposuction: instead of imagining winning the lottery and spending goola-moola to look like Heidi Montag, you put your hand on your belly and tell it you don’t need surgery to love it.

You get a text message from a friend about your fun weekend plans and you’re excited to take your body on a new adventure.

You get the idea…

Last week I blogged about how important it is to have a daily practice of loving your body… this practice is a few steps further down the radiant love your body road. Let everything remind you to be a good friend to your body.

What about when you catch a glimpse in the mirror and trip the wire of self- criticism? When you see that wave of poison arrows coming at you, pause and breathe a moment, then imagine your best friend pushing you out of the way, and watch all of the arrows bounce harmlessly on the concrete floor. Say to your body, “Hello there. Sorry about that. We’re in this together.” Turn it into a moment of friendly reassurance between you and your body.

When your co-worker complains that her thighs are too fat? Stand up for your body (and hers!). Say, “I don’t believe in putting my body down in front of other people. You wouldn’t say something mean like that to your friend. Or would you?” Hooray! You transformed something painful into a magical seed that might very well take root and start to grow. You didn’t engage with her body trash talk. She starts to wonder, “If my co-worker can be friendly towards her body, could I do that too?” You’re a Love Your Body hero!

Think of the world as a conspiracy devoted to reminding you to love your body in every way possible, intent on challenging you to be friendly where you’re judgmental, and ecstatically loving when you never imagined it possible. The universe loves your body and wants you to love it too.

Take everything life throws at you and throw it back with a kiss.

Love Your Body Blog Part 62

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Feed Your Body, Love Your Body

This week, my student and friend Laura shares her journey toward learning how to love her body. Laura is currently studying medicine and is excited to bring her insight into loving her body to how she treats her patients. Read on for further inspiration!

1) What brought you to the realization that you needed/wanted to change your relationship with your body?

I had three phases of realization.

One came when I joined the crew team in college. Though I worked just as hard as the rest of the women on the team, I wasn’t improving. When I asked my coach about it, she politely pointed out that I had an eating disorder and should get help. I wasn’t feeding myself enough to make up for the energy I exerted. I first had to emerge from the denial that everything was fine.

After getting help for the eating disorder I wound up seeing a therapist because I discovered that the eating disorder was only a symptom of a larger issue - anxiety. The therapist, who later became a dear friend, started out by telling me that what I really needed was to love myself, all of myself, even my anxiety. This was the second phase: learning to love myself.

When my therapist moved out of the area, she recommended above all that I should do some sort of body work. Tai Chi. Kung Fu. Yoga. Something to connect my mind with my body. Eventually I found my way to Anusara Yoga and Kimber’s classes. Through the practice of yoga and working with Kimber’s teachings, I discovered that to love myself, I also needed to love my body.

2) What practice or concept from the Love Your Body Workshop has most helped you change your relationship with your body?

“My body is my best friend.” I come back to this quote and continue a conversation with myself. Do I feel this way? How so? What would it take for me to really feel this way?

I need to be around people that appreciate my body and appreciate their own bodies. I need to notice what comes up for me (rather than react) when I hear others complain about their bodies.

I need to listen to what my body loves, and serve it those things. Food. Water. Massage. Yoga. Sun. Vegging out on the couch. Cream cheese frosting. Fresh air. Shower. Hiking. Sex. Sleep.

It’s still helpful for me to practice looking at myself in the mirror, like you would look at a friend, and say, maybe even out loud, “Hi, how are you?”

3) Aside from what you learned in the Love Your Body Workshop, what helps you love your body?

· I’ve stopped looking at popular magazines. I mean, I’ll still peruse National Geographic. But I stay away from “photoshopped” images. Even though I know that the images are not real, there is a part of my brain that attaches to them and strives towards them. It’s like an addiction. So I choose not look at them. And instead, I try to find the beauty in every natural body I encounter.

· I find that my body (and mind) gets very agitated and irritated if I don’t go to at least one, preferably two yoga classes per week. I also practice at home when I can. The physical aspect of yoga helps my body to relax, and the teachings help me to pause and let my mind relax as well.

· My body also needs a good night’s rest, and in order to have that, it needs to wind down before bed. A hot shower or bath followed by a few restorative poses helps. I also force myself not to use the internet (check my email, facebook, etc) once I’m in bed.

· When I get hungry, I get grouchy. When I get grouchy, my negative tape starts rolling. Sometimes it says things like, “you really shouldn’t eat that.” Of course, this only adds to the hungry, grouchy, self-deprecating loop. So instead, I feed myself, enjoy my food, and that helps me to stay positive.

· I love the line: “My body is a living temple of love. My body is the body of the goddess.” It’s from a kirtan session, but I forget the name of the singer.

· One of my favorite quotes that reminds me how to love my body: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek & find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” -Rumi

4) For women who are just starting out on the path of learning to love their bodies, do you have words of wisdom for them? Somewhere in you, you love your body already. It just takes patience and hope to rekindle that fire.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wake Up and Love Your Body

On Monday I shared how to love your body on a radio show hosted by Elizabeth Sampson. (To listen to the show, click here.) She’s a holistic healer and encourages her clients to undertake daily practices of healing and health. Daily practice makes a huge difference.

If you want to love your body, you can’t just do nice things for your body every once in a while.

Think of it like brushing your teeth. How would it feel if you only brushed your teeth once a week? Once a month? No way. All that yellow fuzzy stuff and bits of food just sitting there… need I go on?

When we don’t take the time to love our bodies everyday, the airbrushed images on billboards and magazines start to get stuck in our brains, a creeping sense of dissatisfaction sneaks under our skin, and the old tapes of self-criticism and negativity play in the background like the noise of a street party through an open window.

Think of loving your body every day as preventative… it cleans out the junk, the unneeded, the judgments, and leaves you with a healthy, clean feeling that nine of out of ten dentists recommend. OK, just kidding about that last part.

What do we expect? Just like you eat and use your teeth everyday, unless you live in an off-grid yurt, you get bombarded from the moment you wake up in the morning until your eyes close at night with the message that you’re not fit enough, not attractive enough, not enough enough.

Until last week, when I finally figured out how to manage ads on Yahoo, every time I opened up my email, I’d get some side bar ad inviting me to join Jenny Craig or promising me the secret to losing belly fat. I finally lost it when a Special K ad popped up challenging me to lose ten pounds in ten days. Dude, I need those ten pounds! You can’t have them! (I suppose all my internet searches for “body-image,” “eating disorder,” and “weight-loss” haven’t gone unnoticed by marketers. I wish I could reciprocate by sending them a nice, warm love-your-body message, like, “My body's not your business!”)

So here’s what you do… the love-your-body equivalent of brushing your teeth in the morning, The Good Morning Body:

1. As you wake up, let yourself stretch like a cat. Before you even get out of bed, reach your arms up, stretch your legs out, and wiggle your toes.

2. Curl up into a ball for a moment and thank your body for everything it did during the night, letting your mind rest and reset, digesting, relaxing, healing.

3. Relax back into the bed for a moment and gently touch your feet and legs, touch your belly and hips, touch your shoulders, arms, and chest, touch your neck and face and head. As you touch each part of your body, and say Good morning to each part of your body in turn.

4. To finish, bring one hand to your belly and one hand to your heart, and make a love your body aspiration for today… May I be kind to you today, May we have a great day together, May I treat you as a friend.

Then slowly sit up and enjoy the rest of your day!

You can print out these four steps and set them on your bedside table as a reminder to do them as you get up in the morning. Try it everyday for a week and see how it goes… may you find more ease within and love toward your body everyday.

Love Your Body Blog Part 61