On a scale of 1 to 10 how much to do you love your body?
I would probably rate myself a 7 as over time, particularly through my yoga practice, and no doubt age (!)), I’m learning to love my body for what it is. From the rapidly expanding bald spot at the crown of my head to my knobbly knees and beyond, I am learning to love my body from the inside out.
It’s an ongoing ‘battle’ though, not necessarily with myself, but more so the (mis)representation of the male body and how it’s perceives we should look. The Daniel Craig ‘beach body ready’ look is a pipe dream for 99% of men, but we’re regularly reminded that this is the look we should aim for. This can be very demotivating to many and can result in us turning away from healthier lifestyles.
You only have to read some of the appalling anecdotes from last weekend’s London Marathon where those running at a slower pace were allegedly being criticised by some contractors and volunteers because of their weight, how slow they were running or walking and being told to hurry up.
I hope that this type of reaction was in the minority, with the organisers investigating. It is however this kind of attitude that is so counter-productive. The more that we in society believes that the perfect body exists, the more dispirited those that do not fit that mould could become in adopting healthier lifestyles.
Only this past week, research was published that obese 7-year olds are at greater risk of suffering emotional problems such as anxiety and depression when they reach 11. Although this research did not explicitly state that this was due to a negative body image, it is likely to be a contributing factor, particularly as these children reach adulthood.
That is why the theme of body image for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is so important.
I am supporting the cause through my employers at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. On Tuesday, 14th May, I am running two lunchtime chair yoga classes from a meeting room at my offices in central Bristol. As well as being available for colleagues to attend in person, I am also offering free tickets for anyone to dial in using either videoconference or phone. As a a taster of what to expect, I have recorded a 5-minute sequence in one of the conference rooms available on YouTube.
The classes take place at 12.15 – 12.45pm and 1 – 1.30pm (BST), with poses practiced while seated. So, whether you are in an office, working from home or out & about, you can dial in for either or both (!) of these slots, find yourself a seat, make yourself comfortable and get involved. I will be using these classes as fundraisers for Bristol Mind, with all proceeds being used to support the mental health services they provide.
I am really pleased that fellow yoga teachers from Bristol School of Yoga are also supporting this cause. Emma Jane Gurhy is running a fundraiser class at a wellbeing festival in Clevedon on Saturday, 18th May. Zara Simpson-Dobinson is also running a class at 9am on Sunday, 19th May in Bicester. Should you be interested in attending their classes, do not hesitate to get in touch with them through Facebook.