Our body's power center is our core.
Physically, our deep core muscles allow us to move through our day, balance, and stabilize ourselves as we walk, move, or do any type of exercise.
Energetically, it's home for our gut instincts - that gut feeling we often feel about situations. I know when I'm feeling off about something, I'll get a pit in my stomach. When I'm feeling shame, I also tend to feel it in my belly.
This is also a place of personal shame for so many women, and I know I hated my belly for many years growing up. I would try to suck it in, restricting breath and movement to this vital space.
Our diet culture is so focused on creating six-pack abs or a flat belly that ends up leading women to hide their center, suck it in, or try to change it through disordered food or exercise patterns. Biologically, I'll just say that flat abs will never be a possibility for so many people without using disordered behaviors, and I refuse to starve myself or overexercise to even attempt to get there.
Our culture's body standards end up leaving you feeling ashamed of your body, hiding yourself, and obsessing about food or your body. Diet culture leads you to play SMALL in your life.
Instead of showing up fully present in your life, you hide out until your body is "perfect" or "enough." You skip going to the beach in a swimsuit. You ignore those gut instincts to nourish your body or rest because diet culture tells you to keep cutting out different foods.
We need to take our power back from the diet culture. We all have the ability to nourish ourselves on all levels without being told what we "should" eat or look like.
In my journey towards accepting my body, yoga was one place I started to recognize my personal power. I started to feel the inner fire and heat building in my core as I would move, and that also ignited a flame to live based on my personal core values.
With time, I started to accept and truly love my belly, but more importantly, I spent way less time obsessing over food or my body. Instead, I explored other passions in my life - travel, yoga, writing - and was able to show up present in my relationships, work, and life more often.
My power is in my presence.
Your power is in your presence.
You don't have to do anything or be anything other than yourself. Your power is in being yourself.
This gives you the freedom and possibility to start to believe that you body is enough and worthy of nourishment and acceptance, as it is.
To believe that your intuition - your gut feelings - is worthy of listening to and honoring.
Of course, this takes time and self-compassion. Be gentle with yourself along the way.
Shame thrives in secrecy, and when we are able to start to speak it, it cannot survive the light. This may mean talking about your body shame, getting comfortable being in your body (with body awareness practices, the body positivity community, or a trusted therapist), or giving yourself permission to be fully present in your life in the body you have right now.
Take back your power from the diet culture.
For a body awareness tool, you could try the following yoga practice.
- Lie on your back in supta baddha konasana (butterfly position - soles of your feet together, knees apart). You can place pillows under your knees if it's uncomfortable.
- Place one hand over your heart and one hand on your belly. Close your eyes, if it feels comfortable for you.
- Let your breath naturally expand. Feel the rise and fall of your breath under your hands. Start to deepen your breath to let your chest rise, ribs expand, and belly lift as you inhale, and naturally fall on the exhale.
- Tune into what sensations you feel here. It can be vulnerable and uncomfortable to be in your body in such an open position, or to feel your belly expand. Breathe into the discomfort. If it's too fearful, work with a therapist or yoga therapist to get comfortable with the sensations.
- Spend 1-5 minutes here being present in your body.