Embracing Our Self Through Yoga

A friend reached out to me this weekend interested in starting classes at the studio. She said she liked that there were real people like her in our photos on our website and she felt that she would be welcomed and both the students and teachers wouldn't care what you looked like. And she's right! And she's not the first one to share with me her concerns of how she looks or the intimidation one feels that prevents them from going to a yoga class.
Feedback like this always makes me happy because that is what I intend when I do photo shoots with our current students and teachers and include them in marketing. I want everyone to feel that they matter and they are welcome at Embarque no matter their age, their ethnicity, their body shape, whatever. I 100% believe that yoga is for every body!
I am always inspired by my friend's positivity and creativity. She not only set the intention to see life with a positive spin, but also created the life she wanted. She built a thriving business that can operate on its own while also making time for her and her husband to grow a family. I know it was hard work for her and many tears were shed, but this inspired me to do the same and that's one reason I opened Embarque. 
I also admire her because she recognizes the shame and guilt we have placed on us as women, especially when it comes to body shaming passed on generation to generation, even unconsciously. Not to mention what the media and society at large throws at us...which is intentional. She tries very hard to encourage and empower her daughters to know that they are more than their looks and reframes discussions on body image and eating. I try to do the same with myself and my niece by trying to use words like "healthy" instead of "good" or "bad", which are words we grew up using. I still catch my mom, sister and friends using these words. It's a challenge to retrain what has long been instilled in us.
And while I work to get my own body back to health after years of subjecting myself to external stressors and internalizing them, I work daily to try to embrace the body I have right now. It's not easy. But I try to look at more than the extra weight I'm carrying and see the improvements in my skin, my sleep and my energy. I know one of the underlying reasons for weight gain, chronic pain and more is our disconnectedness to our Self and our need for external validation, so only through embracing our Self that's been there all along can we begin to heal and let go of those side effects that come from disconnection.
A final note...I really like what the Yoga and Body Image Coalition is doing to promote yoga for everyone. Check them out!

Alyssa Pfennig