Body Positivity + Women’s Empowerment – Meet Lauren EckstromJanuary 27, 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 Lauren Eckstrom, an active partner in the Yoga and Body Image Coalition.
How do body image issues connect to the larger picture related to women’s leadership and power in the world ?
We live in a world where 1 in 5 women still do not receive an education. When women are educated, research shows that the children in their homes stay in school longer, their family income is more carefully managed, and the entire community as a whole sees a positive economic impact. In the west we have fought hard to have the opportunity to chart our own paths as women and as a result, we need to be an example to the world. As western women it is our duty and our global responsibility to work together.
Body image impacts everyone. Disordered eating impacts everyone. And sadly, much of the time, it is women speaking against women which propagates the issue.
It is time for us to stand together as women and declare that we will not allow ourselves or other women to be categorized by external appearances and media misperceptions of femininity. As a woman, I believe this work and these issues are important because women must support women in order to create harmony in our world, in our communities, in our homes, and in the future generations of men and women.
What is yoga’s impact on your body image?
Growing up I was not an athlete or a dancer. I came to yoga with deeply held beliefs that I was weak, incapable, inflexible, and uncoordinated. Yoga has not been an easy road. The practice took my firmly rooted concepts of Self and asked me to either give up or transform. One day a teacher said to me, “you want all of the benefits of the practice but you don’t want to do the work to get there” and I made a choice to prove to myself that I was capable, strong, and enough.
Today, I am stronger than I have ever been in my entire life. Yoga taught me to see my body not as a fixed concept and taught me that change is possible, strength is a mindset, and steadiness is far more valuable than flexibility.
What is the state of your body image these days?
Body image is certainly something that fluctuates. When I am practicing regularly, meditating daily, and eating mindfully, body image is equally steady. When I fall out of mindful habits, as we all do, I call on a support system that includes my partner, close friends, acupuncturist, and energy healer/body worker to help keep my perspective clear. While my yoga mat is a great place to reconnect, sometimes the support of a trusted person outside my head is necessary to help re-ground me.
What does body positivity mean to you?
Body positive yoga means that there is a space for everyone. Whether someone is new to the practice, uncomfortable doing inversions, or missing a limb; the yoga studio should be a place where everyone feels safe and welcome. The message of the practice ideally resonates with all and gives permission for practitioners to honor their current level of practice.
Body positive means you are enough. You. Right Now. As you are. Are enough. This is the message of yoga. The Yoga Sutras begin with “Atha Yoga” meaning right now is the practice of yoga. As a result, there is nothing else to get to, the practice is now.
This means recognizing when we’ve become involved in rehearsing for the future or replaying the past. To be body positive we must be mindful and courageous enough to take a deep breath, re-center, and return to the present moment without getting caught up in self-loathing behavior or harmful mental patterning.
If you could say 1 thing to your younger Self, what would it be?
Your best is enough.
Lauren Eckstrom is a yoga and meditation teacher in Santa Monica, California. Her classes create a space where practitioners are supported, guided, & inspired to honor their individual practice while utilizing the breath to connect body to spirit in the hopes of understanding that yoga is a practice that happens off the mat and in our lives. Lauren leads workshops, retreats, and teacher trainings all over the world.