I was nine years old the first time I took diet pills. I graduated university on the brink of hospitalization for anorexia nervosa. My life has been a constant struggle with body image and sadly this is all too familiar for many people.
But what if I told you we can feel better naked and it may not involve a single sit up?
The stomach is a common locus of self-judgment. No matter how well I ate or often I worked out, I was never comfortable in a sports bra or bikini. To this day if I am under great amounts of stress I will feel as though I have gained weight in my gut. This misperception is called body dysmorphia and is understandable upon examination of the more subtle layers of the belly. It took a lot of core work to be able to stand comfortably in front of a mirror without clothes on and I do not mean doing crunches.
It is a core-obsessed world. Stick the word in the title of a fitness class and you have a full room. We often limit our understanding to the “six-pack”, but what lies beneath the coveted washboard abs is where we want to access and fortify. Physically a strong trunk is important for stability. When we move from our center the action is more powerful, literally and allegorically. From an energetic viewpoint the stomach houses our sense of self and acts as a second brain. Anxiety or alarm bells signal butterflies. Intuition gives way to “gut reactions”.
A strong core runs deeper than a flat stomach. It means getting to know one self intimately. It is connecting to our truth, so we respond from our center. Having a healthy sense of self and defined beliefs and values. One can train the mind just as they would a muscle and through the practice of self-acceptance, come to appreciate this miraculous vessel called a body.
We learn to love ourselves by learning about ourselves. And no one looks or feels better naked than when they know who they are at their core.
Originally published on Yoganonymous July 15, 2015