A Simple Yoga Practice to Let Go of Body Comparing
Cultivating gratitude for our bodies can feel impossible on those hard body image days. Even still, harming ourselves with nasty body comparing self-talk is not OK and goes against our yogic practice of ahimsa (or kindness). The practice of well wishing—literally wishing others well—is a beautiful way to counteract feelings of resentment and jealousy and opens us up to our natural capacity to offer love, even to strangers.
Bhakti yoga, or the yogic path of love, focuses on the emotional nature of relationships with ourselves and others, and it teaches about how to balance strong emotional states—such as sadness, fear, worry, anxiety and so forth. When we feel good in relation to ourselves and those around us, our energy is up, and our emotional capacity is more nimble—meaning we might have a more lasting supply of patience or generosity, versus when our mood dips due to stress (which is usually caused from relationships). Bhakti yoga offers practices to smooth out these dips in mood, so that we experience equanimity, even if for just moments at a time. Well-wishing is one of them.
Well-wishing is a quiet practice meant only for you to hear. It’s one of my favorite practices, and has really helped me to shift out of unhelpful and self-sabotaging narratives to kindness and the present moment. It also helps when I feel aggravated by traffic, long lines in stores, or when my kids are driving me crazy!
Well-wishing cultivates positivity within and extends goodness without, which is key when we get caught up in negativity turned inward. Rather than body compare, wish others well.
Use this practice when you notice guilt, shame, and comparison thoughts about your body creeping in —when you feel the angst rising up inside and your shoulders tighten and your jaw clenches, or when you turn your eyes down and hunch forward. These are signals that comparison, guilt, and/or shame are at work.
How to do it:
Pause and take a few breaths to clear your mind and calm the feeling.
With soft eyes, place your focus on the person or thing you are reacting to and quietly say to yourself, “I wish you well.”
Repeat the words until you sense a shift physically and mentally.
Smile and repeat as many times as needed to help you create more ease and presence.
This simple practice will allow you to be more present in your daily life and less consumed with body comparing thoughts. These practices will also help you develop appreciation for your own body, because you will have more energy to pay attention to your abilities, gifts, and unique experiences. I’ve used them myself to overcome negative body image in my own life, and I’m hopeful you’ll find them to be valuable as well.
Remember, repetition, consistency, and time are essential to letting go of habitual body comparing thoughts. Be gentle with yourself, but also committed to showing up more fully for yourself in these ways. You are worth it.