“Dare to be scrumptious in your body. It will affect everyone around you.” -J.M.
When my yoga mentor casually declared the above to a class full of eager yogis the other day, she was in the midst of discussing the yogic principle of ahimsa, or “non-harming.” Ultimately, the practice of yoga and ahimsa are one in the same. Though we often challenge our bodies to persevere through uncomfortable poses, our time on the mat is always about ahimsa, never about pushing ourselves to the point of injury. Even amidst challenging poses, says my teacher, it should all feel “yummy” …scrumptious, even.
So when my teacher dared me to be scrumptious in my body, I imagine she was daring me to respect my body’s limitations. To honor what felt good to me, in my body, in that particular moment.
But I couldn’t help interpreting the directive on a much deeper level. Scrumptious, huh? What would it take for me to truly “be scrumptious” in my own body, I wondered. What would that feel like?
I mean, it’s been a major victory just to get to a place of love and acceptance with my body. But I can’t remember the last time I was unabashedly proud of it, like it was the most appealing, appetizing, delicious human form ever. It sounded nice.
And then there was that intriguing append: It will affect everyone around you. This made my brain explode a little. I’ve never thought about how my self-image is affecting everyone else – HELLO: I’m too wrapped up in how it makes ME feel! But of course our self-perception affects those around us; we carry it with us everywhere, and it colors our every interaction.
When we put ourselves down for not looking or feeling a certain way, we’re unwittingly signaling to those around us that we expect the same from them. On the other hand, feeling scrumptious in your own body gives other people permission to feel the same. It’s the exact opposite of the oppressive monoculture of high fashion and plastic beauty – an all-inclusive celebration of form!
Feeling scrumptious in your body takes guts. Many of us have no practice (80% of American women and up to 97% of women in the UK are dissatisfied with their bodies; somewhat ironically, even Glamour magazine has taken note). And if, like me, you suffer from overvaluing the opinions of others, the prospect of showcasing self-esteem can sometimes paradoxically make you feel more vulnerable, not less (What if someone disagrees with me? Challenges me? Calls me out?).
But you guys… we got this. And once we get started it’ll feel so good, so yummy, so delectable, that it’ll be hard to stop. Remember to start small:
- When you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk, start showering yourself with luxurious praise. Yes, out loud if you have to. Yes, even if you don’t believe it.
- Write yourself a compliment and set it as an alert in your iPhone for some random time in the next week – a delicious surprise for a rainy day.
- Try experimenting with some self-massage – that coconut oil is good for more than just cooking, ya know.
- Set a date with your best friend and exchange lists of what you love about each other’s bodies. Declare it a “no negative self-talk zone,” and hold each other to it.
What would it take for you to feel scrumptious in your body today? Do you think anyone would notice? How might it affect those around you – your family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers?