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Self Objectification, BodyLove & Yoga

October 24, 20223 min read

Most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about self-objectification. I didn’t until recently, when I finally understood it, the impact that is has on us, and how it affects our everyday choices. It is so prevalent, and so enmeshed in our way of being that we may not even see it anymore. So, what is self-objectification all about?

Self-objectification means to internalise an observer perspective on your own body.

When a woman looks in the mirror, she is not looking at herself – she is looking at the idea of a person looking at her, and evaluating herself according to her idea of another person’s gaze upon her body. When we have deeply internalised self-objectification, we lose our ability to respond to ourselves and our needs moment to moment, as we have lost our connection to ourselves.

And this impacts all women. We can’t assume that someone who meets the “body ideal” has a positive body image or a high self-worth – this only reinforces the idea that life is all about how you look.

So then, how do we return home to our bodies, our hearts and our unconditioned self? What is the journey back to BodyLove?

Yoga and The BodyLove Journey

The way that we teach and practice yoga can increase self-objectification, or yoga can be a space of healing self-objectification, and actually creating a direct relationship with the self, with the felt experience of a safe & stable body that is welcoming, and is our home and a place of belonging.

It is done through integration rather than transformative practices, integrating the felt sense of belonging in this body practice by practice. It is a practice of making our own choices, taking effective action, re-creating rhythms, and moving from self-objectification to a deeply healed relationship with the body, but it takes time, it takes practice (the right practice), and it takes community.

When we embark on the Bodylove Journey, a relationship with self-worth and value emerges over time. We let go of the “Yoga Body” as the goal, and instead create an intention to be in our full vitality. We work with interoception, inner relationship, and a remembering of the feeling of vitality and freedom in the body, which then leads the body to look in its’ optimal healthy way. If that is truly integrated, then that is very different to crafting the yoga body from the outside in.

When we choose to enjoy the body from the inside out, then we are free to not hold back. We look underneath the surface layer of desires, into what is it that we are actually looking for in a different body – and find that that can be experienced in any body.  Maybe it is freedom, access to relaxation, joy, ease of being, vitality. That is the part that we want to tap into – the deep longings of our child self, our free self, our unconditioned self.

And healing is not a straight line. Sometimes we have a lot of emotional stuff come up when we achieve the “ideal body”. Then we dive back into food and unhealthy habits. I have done this so many times. I have had stages when I got super fit and even ran the New York marathon (I actually can’t believe I did that now!)  – but I was filled with anxiety at this time. I felt unsafe in a smaller body. A few extra kilos made me feel safer, less of a target. Unresolved traumas were still looping in my nervous system. I had not yet worked through these underlying emotions, so of course I dove back into food and unhealthy habits. We must though, forgive ourselves for it all, and continue the journey with gentleness.

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What should I wear to yoga class?

You should wear comfortable, breathable clothing that allows you to move freely. Some people prefer to wear loose-fitting clothing, while others prefer to wear more fitted clothing. It is also a good idea to wear shoes or socks that have good traction, as you may be moving on a slippery surface.

Do I need to be flexible to do yoga?

No, you do not need to be flexible to do yoga. Yoga is a practice that is suitable for all people, regardless of their fitness level or flexibility. There are many different types of yoga, and you can find one that is right for you.

What are the benefits of yoga?

Yoga has many benefits for both the body and the mind. Yoga can help to improve your flexibility, strength, and balance. It can also help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Yoga can also help to improve your sleep quality and boost your mood.