Take a look at this picture… what do you see?
I see big thighs, medium calfs, tiny ankles and huge feet. I see a belly that hangs. I see a red face with big cheeks and a flat bum. Basically, I see nothing like what I see on other people on social media, on TV or in the magazines. But as time goes by, I am learning to be ok with it.
I am not looking for anyone to tell me it’s not like that and they disagree with the distorted image I have of myself. We all say that to each other, because we all see the beautiful in each other. But what we perceive in others won’t change what they perceive in themselves and vice-versa.
I am writing this article because I know that we all have distorted images of ourselves and I know, not everyone has the tools to make that change. I am not a big fan of the affirmations while looking at yourself in the mirror. And while I completely respect people’s decisions to take part into these methods, they just don’t work for me. I am therefore sharing my method for anyone out there who might be looking for something else 🙂
When I started yoga, it was just a workout for me. A way for me to grow more abs and get physically stronger. But what I got out of it is so much more. It became a way of opening myself to myself – so to say.
Are you familiar with the effects of sport on the body? And furthermore, are you aware of the spiritual effects of yoga? Yoga, to me, takes the workout to another level…
First of all, let’s talk about the physical effects of yoga. There are two types of physical workout: aerobic and anaerobic.
Aerobic metabolism refers to the way your body creates energy through the combustion of carbohydrates, amino acids and fats in the presence of oxygen. Combustion is burning, which is why we say we are burning sugars, fats, and proteins for energy. Aerobic metabolism is used for sustained production of energy for exercise and other body functions. Meaning that Aerobic metabolism is what your body does when you are undertaking every day chores and activities or when you practice light or medium intensity workout. Therefore, Aerobic metabolism won’t help you gain more muscle but it will help your body maintain a healthy weight and stay lean by tapping into your fat storage.
Anaerobic metabolism is the creation of energy through the combustion of carbohydrates in the absence of oxygen. This occurs when the lungs cannot put enough oxygen into the bloodstream to keep up with the demands from the muscles for energy. Meaning it generally is used only for short and intense bursts of activity. When there isn’t enough oxygen in the bloodstream, glucose and glycogen cannot be fully broken down to carbon dioxide and water. Instead, lactic acid is produced, which can build up in the muscles and degrade muscle function. This is why sometimes we are at risk of serious injury during practice. It is also why breathing in yoga is so important. In conclusion, Anaerobic metabolism lets your body build muscle mass much faster but you will burn less calories, even though you will keep burning energy for up to 24 hours after working out!
So as you can see, both types have their strengths, which complement each other. And yoga enables to practice both aerobic and anaerobic at the same time! So a one hour yoga practice will give you an all round workout, which both your body and mind will thank you for.
Keeping on the subject of working out but focusing on a different aspect: the hormonal effects.
When you workout, you release several hormones, each of which has a specific role, some of which are here to make your brain super happy. Meaning you will be on a mini-high and very happy with yourself after you workout!
Endorphins make you feel exhilarated and happy and block any feelings of pain, so you can power through any discomfort caused by exercising
Dopamine creates an intense feeling of pleasure. It is actually the same chemical which is released during intimate relations.
Serotonin is responsible for happiness, restful sleep, and a healthy appetite. It works with endorphins to make working out a pleasurable activity. In addition, more serotonin means more energy and clearer thinking.
So there you have it! Did you know about all the wonderful things that happen deep down inside while you work out?
And it’s not all!
The best part of yoga, is learning to let yourself open up, body and mind. Each posture is tailored just for that. The idea is to put yourself slightly outside of your comfort zone and breathe into each pose to let your muscles relax and your mind quiet down. By doing so, you are practicing some aspects of meditation.
My favorite poses are heart openers – also known as backbends, and inversions.
Practicing heart openers is meant to teach you to open your heart to the divine, in order to let love in. Practicing any backbend, whether simple like sphinx or more advanced like wheel, is meant to lead to the same results: letting emotions and love of yourself and others, in. So whenever you practice, try to include at least one backbend and with time, you should feel the flow of love coming in.
Inversions are meant to help you see life from a different perspective. They help the blood rush towards the head and fill the cells and brain with new oxygen to help clear the mind. Everybody pictures inversions as complicated postures such as headstands or forearm strands but the truth it, there are plenty more simple ones such as downward dog, forward fold or shoulder stand. So also try to include those in your practice on a regular basis and notice the difference!
There are plenty of ways to try and accept ourselves as we are, and today I share mine with you. I recently found out about the chemical effects of workout and how it affects our brain. I find this particularly fascinating considering how I have been feeling like I am accepting myself more and more since I really started yoga.
So, the next time you look at yourself or at a picture of yourself and you start to think you don’t like what you see, think about it this way: your body is an AMAZING machine! Remember everything that you just read, and look at things from a completely different perspective. The more you practice self love through your practice, the more it will come to you naturally.
Learn to accept and love your body as it is. And let me know how it goes 😉
PS: If you have any questions regarding the above, do get in touch! I’ll be more than happy to answer them 🙂