One of the most wonderful shifts we’re seeing more and more of in society today is the shift toward body positivity. The body positivity movement affirms that every body is beautiful and deserving of love, no matter what it looks like or what its current state of health may be.

While prying ourselves away from toxic media that continue to shame us all into thinking bodies need to look a certain way to be worthy of love, practicing yoga is something else we can use to help us all develop healthy, loving relationships with our own bodies. And it absolutely doesn’t have to involve changing the way we currently look.

Quiet Negative Self-Talk

Yoga is all about being mindful. As mind, body and spirit connect in the present moment through each asana, we learn to become more effective observers of our own thoughts, accepting them without judgment and freeing ourselves from the monkey chatter that consumes us throughout most of the day. We’re better able to to recognize the ways in which we automatically label, criticize and even insult ourselves so we can choose to dissolve and neutralize this negative self-talk.

Discover Your Uniqueness

Body positivity seeks to reveal each individual’s beautiful uniqueness, and because yoga can be designed and modified for anyone of any level of fitness–from beginner to advanced–it truly is a personal practice as well as a collective one at the same time. By connecting the breath and body, each of us will discover new things about our flexibility, strength, balance and calmness of mind that we could never discover by trying to live through somebody else’s experiences.

Develop Your Own Strength

When we realize what our bodies truly are capable of doing, it’s a lot easier to show our appreciation for them. Anyone who practices yoga can take a trip down memory lane to remember just how challenging it was to stretch, bend and hold certain poses in the very beginning. Over time, the body naturally gets stronger, becomes more flexible, and gives us the opportunity to be grateful for how far we’ve come and how much we’ve improved.

Practice Self-Love and Compassion

All of the above ways that yoga helps us become more body positive paves the path for an even stronger sign of growth: genuine self-love. Expanding our awareness can help us identify and dispose of the lies we’ve been led to believe about ourselves and about body image in general, encouraging us to forgive ourselves for how we may have treated our bodies in the past and shifting to honor them instead for what they’re able to do for us today.

It’s true that a lot of people start practicing yoga to improve their physical appearance. While toning up and even losing a bit of weight may be welcomed benefits, the true goal of yoga is to obtain peace of mind by ceasing to identify with thoughts and feelings that cause us so much emotional pain.

Change of physical appearance or not, yoga is a practice that supports the body positivity movement no matter what our personal goals may be. And most importantly, yoga is and always will be for every body.

Image (edited) via Randy Pantouw