I’m an advocate of yoga for many reasons, but today I want to focus on yoga as a tool to cultivate self-love and a healthy body image.

Through practices of mindfulness such as yoga and meditation, we are able to access powerful tools that allow us to rediscover the real beauty of our bodies, and gratitude for the strength and energy our bodies provide for us.

Image via KimberlySnyder.net

The yoga studio can be a beautiful retreat from “real life,” giving students a sense of solace on the mat. Many people gain love and respect for their bodies when doing yoga, and find themselves feeling grounded, strong and radiant with a positive attitude. This is what I wish for everyone!

One of the beautiful things about visiting a yoga studio is all the different shapes and sizes you’ll see. From teens to grandparents, dancers to hockey players, and from the muscular to the soft, the studio is a place where all are welcomed.

A few yoga bloggers have been speaking out about body image, and they have some insights and words of wisdom I’d love to share with you.

Earlier this year, Kathryn Budig, an international yoga teacher, spoke out about the criticism she as received for her naked — save for ToeSox — advertisements (she’s a spokeswoman for the company). In the article she interviews her former student, Briohny Kate-Smyth, who received tons of positive feedback, but also negative commentary, for starring in a sexy a Equinox fitness ad in which Briohny practiced yoga in her underwear (the video has received over 3.4 million views).

Before diving into her interview with Briohny, Kathryn explains that many people have found her ToeSox ads inspirational, but that “there are two sides to the coin and many people were displeased. They were offensive. They objectified women. They were using sex to sell product.”

As she empathizes with Briohny, she reminds her readers that we should all be cautious of judgement.

“She opened up to me about her past, her struggle with an eating disorder, and how her practice, daughter and love for her fiancé brought her to peace with her body,” Kathryn says of her interview with Briohny.

“It’s a gentle reminder that we are quick to judge when we have no idea where someone else is coming from. People often overcome mountains of adversary to be in a place where they can shine. I’m hoping this look into Briohny’s life will help us all remember to look for the beauty where we’re so quick to see fault. To be inspired where we want to compare, to love where we want to forget and to feel empowered where we want to shy away.”

I recently had the chance to meet with a Vancouver-based body image warrior, Alex Mazerolle. Alex is a yoga teacher in Vancouver and started an incredible project called Girlvana, which grows “consciousness in Teen Girls through yoga, meditation and a healthy lifestyle.”

She offers workshops and retreats, and an incredible blog geared at empowering teen girls and young adults to love themselves.

“Simply stated, yoga will open your heart,” she explains on Girlvana.

“The voice in your head, that self destructive one, will no longer rule your life. What other people think about you will matter less, and the way you treat yourself will matter more. You will grow stronger, and more flexible. You will witness a balance in your moods and a deeper sense of calm and focus. You will sleep better, you will want to eat better and you will feel more compassionate to yourself and others. Think smoothie versus slurpee, acceptance versus gossip, and awareness versus shame or guilt. Yoga is a tool to shape a happier life.”

Check out her video below, and if you happen to live in Vancouver, I highly recommend taking one of her classes!

Namaste 🙂