Body image is our attitude towards our body. It shows how we see ourselves, how we feel about the way we look, and how we think others perceive us.
A healthy body image means we accept, appreciate, and respect our body, even it is imperfect. Generally, people with positive body image are more confident and comfortable with their bodies.
One useful way to develop body image is doing yoga. This ancient exercise focuses on moving, stretching, and balancing through a group of poses, awareness of the breath, and the mind-body connection.
A recent research published in Body Image examined the relation between doing yoga and body image. A total of 320 women took part in the study, including 124 Iyengar yoga practitioners and 69 Bikram yoga practitioners.
Each woman finished a questionnaire about physical activities and body image. Participants answered how they felt about and connected with their bodies, whether they are worried about their looks, their desire for thinness, and reasons to do yoga.
The result showed that yoga practitioners had much higher positive body image than non-yoga participants, and that they connected with their bodies more. In addition, they judged their bodies less than non-yoga participants.
The only difference between Iyengar and Bikram yoga practitioners is that Bikram yoga practitioners were more willing to improve their appearances via yoga.
Researchers suggest that doing yoga can make people connect with their bodies, which reduces self-objectification and increases positive body image. Through yoga, women are more aware of their bodies’ needs and are more physically empowered.
In addition, doing yoga can also make women focus on health, fitness, and enjoyment, and eventually more appreciate their bodies based on competence and pleasure.
Citation: Mahlo L, Tiggemann M. (2016). Yoga and positive body image: A test of the Embodiment Model. Body Image, 18: 135-142. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.06.008
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