Move Your Way: 6 Tips For Using Yoga To Embrace Your Unique Body
Our bodies are remarkable vehicles that take us through life, but we don't always remember to show them the love and appreciation they deserve. Many of us battle a persistent inner critic that gets the best of us when we're not feeling physically fit or when we simply wake up on the wrong side of the bed (which happens more than we care to admit).
One thing's for certain: This devil on our shoulder does not serve us, and it certainly doesn't benefit our mood and energy. Luckily, there are ways to change the inner dialogue within ourselves, shift our attitude, and love ourselves with stronger intention—and it can start with a yoga practice. Connecting to your body is key, but before we find purpose through practice, we've got to put on a motivating look from Athleta, designed with all of our unique shapes in mind.
Get dressed with intention.
The clothes you wear can have a serious impact on your attitude toward movement and your body. When you put on an outfit that makes you feel confident and comfortable, you'll feel better about the skin you're in. Trust us; hopping out of the sweats you've had on since last night and into a matching workout set to do yoga will feel better than you think!
Start from the bottom up: Athleta's Elation Printed ⅞ Tight packs a pretty pop of positivity and brightness. What's more: The buttery soft fabric allows you to feel confidently compressed while still free to move as you are. If you're someone who likes to keep it a little more low-key, the Ultra High Rise Elation ⅞ Tight gives you that complete lower-body support and security (while wicking away sweat). When it comes to choosing a top, the Conscious Crop is the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" of workout tops, it looks great on all body types (and still feels breathable and freeing). Don't stress about sizing; Athleta has over 350 styles in sizes XXS–3X, so there's definitely something you'll feel great in.
Once you're feeling yourself in your outfit and ready to start your yoga practice, find a moment of stillness and bring awareness to your body. If you're at home, try dimming the lights, lighting your favorite candle, and standing tall on your mat. Close your eyes, and begin to breathe deeply.
Take note of any areas of your body that feel tired, any aches that you want to address, or anything that feels particularly strong that day. Start to send your breath to these areas. If in these initial moments you find your mind wandering to a negative space, notice that and focus on breathing in love, and exhaling criticism. Tuning in to how you're feeling is an act of self-care and ultimately allows you to connect to yourself in a significant way. In this quiet, safe space, take the time to show your body some serious gratitude, self-love, and positive affirmation. You've only got one to take you through life, and your relationship with it matters.
Focus on possibilities (not limitations).
Once you get moving, you'll encounter moments of challenge; that's the beauty of a yoga practice. Whether you're in a side plank transition, tricky backbend, never-ending pigeon, or chaturanga just isn't happening that day, reframe your thinking in the affirmative: It's not about what you can't do today but the possibility of what you can do tomorrow, the next day, or in the months to come. Yoga is about the process, not the limitations.
There's no limit to how you can move. What allows for this growth? Your beautiful body. Remember to thank it and have a positive vision of what's possible. The power of manifestation is real!
Pro tip: Make sure your wardrobe isn't a distraction. It can be hard to get into the flow of things when you're constantly pulling up your pants or shifting your bra strap to get comfortable. Your clothes should never hinder your movement but support it.
A key part of any form of exercise, especially yoga, is to not take yourself too seriously. It's not a "grin and bear it" sporting activity—it's about finding your flow and moving with your body's rhythm, not pushing hard against it. If your crow pose ends in a face plant, it's OK to giggle! If your stiffness requires you to shake it out, shake it out!
With a relaxed attitude, you will move through the poses and your day with a greater sense of ease, quieting your inner critic in the process. Why fret when you can laugh?
Celebrate your strength.
Remember to celebrate your body's strength! Whether you've made it through 20 minutes of consistent vinyasa or finally got some airtime trying a handstand, take a minute to let that inner pride wash over you. YOUR body did that and does so much more day in and day out.
Meg Phillips is a Brand Strategist at mindbodygreen. She received her degree from Columbia University in the City of New York. She has worked at many top publications and brands including Vogue, Milk Studios, Allure and Bon Appétit. She lives in Manhattan, NY.