Accepting Your Whole Self – Meet Pia Guerrero

June 4, 2015

The Yoga and Body Image Coalition is committed to building conscious community and highlighting the work that inspiring yogis are doing in their local communities and beyond. We’re pleased to introduce you to Yoga and Body Image Coalition’s community ally, Pia Guerrero.

What is yoga’s impact on your body image?

Photo credit: Sarit Z. Rogers
Photo credit: Sarit Z. Rogers

 I used to be a ballet dancer, which simply bred self-criticism: what your body does and what it looks like has a direct impact on your success. For a long time, I felt I didn’t have the “right” body – my waist was too wide, my neck was too short, and so on. Once I began practicing yoga, I was finally able to get out of my head and truly connect with my body. Through the yoga sutras, I learned the difference between my judgmental mind and my discerning mind, and has allowed me to settle into a state of acceptance of my whole self.

Do you have a positive body image at all times?

 I don’t have positive body image all the time, but I’ve learned ways to catch myself when my thoughts go down the path of self-criticism. After taking a few grounding breaths, I acknowledge that my thoughts are judgement, not truth. I then combine breath with movement to calm my nervous system. I’ll also reach out to loved ones and ask for support…they usually help me see that it is an external stressor that is causing anxiety and subsequent self-criticism. Then I try to address that stressor through self-care.

Does yoga promote diverse, positive, and loving body image?

 Yoga has always been for everybody. Only in the past 15 years has it been promoted in the media and industry as an exercise and spiritual trend for the uber fit and elite. It is a healing practice that is intended for all to pursue in the name of universal and inner peace. Swami Satchidanada was known to say, “Truth is one. Paths are many.” So yes, it is our responsibility to promote positive body image and identity so that folks of all backgrounds, abilities, sizes…and paths can find their way to the truth.

How does your work address body image issues?

 Both the yoga that I teach and the work I do with Adios Barbie are dedicated to accepting your body as it is and finding your authentic self. Viniyoga (yoga therapy) in my experience resets the nervous system so that the body can heal itself. As a result when I work with folks who have pain, are immobilized or who are injured, they are able move out of their current “condition” and into an experience of ease and relaxation. Instead of judging their body for what it can’t do and what it doesn’t look like, students come to identify with the inner healing wisdom that is uniquely theirs.

Short bio:

 Pia is the founder/editor of the first intersectional body image site, She has been practicing yoga as taught by Swami Satchidananda, Iyengar, and Krishnamacharya for over 25 years, and currently teaches Viniyoga (yoga therapy) privately. Viniyoga (or “yoga for everybody”) incorporates pose adjustments for body size, injury, and age among other conditions. She also coaches individuals on being their best selves by not limiting their beliefs. 

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