Countering Mediated Images of Beauty – Meet Maria Lopez

February 10, 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  Maria Lopez, an active partner in the Yoga and Body Image Coalition.

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Describe your relationship with your body and your body image.

It is extremely difficult to have a positive body image in an environment where the aesthetics of our own bodies are measured up against unreasonable standards. I discovered Yoga after unsuccessfully trying all types of crazy diets and hardcore exercise plans/routines. While my body image has improved,  I do not have a positive body image at all times. There is so much pressure from our society and culture to be unreasonably thin and to fit a certain standard of “beauty.” It’s a practice.

What are your go-to tools/practices you use to transform your body image when you are not feeling your best?

When body image issues arise, my go-to toolbox contains mediation, yoga, and any other outdoor activities with family and friends. Meditation allows me to create a mental break from the constant attack to my body by the media, society and people in general. My yoga practice allows me to love my body in a holistic way; to have the perspective of my body as being a part of something larger than the physical matter. Through yoga and meditation I see my body as the vessel for my soul, my heart, my spirit and my mind. Yoga has allowed me to have a space where I can be me with all my imperfections and gifts.

How does contemporary yoga culture and yoga media influence self-esteem, body image and images of beauty?

Contemporary North American yoga culture does not promote a diverse, positive and loving body image. There is an avalanche of negative body images in the yoga world, from magazine covers to TV ads. Yoga marketing has commercialized yoga practice and  glamorizes the practice and sexualizes the bodies portrayed in these mediums by presenting predominantly thin, white women.

How would you describe “body positivity”?

To me a positive body image means feeling comfortable in your own skin; your self-worth, character, and personality are based on the values you possess, not the size of clothing you wear.

A healthy body image is one where what we see in the mirror matches our perceptions. We should acknowledge the fact that genetics are responsible for the different body sizes across the spectrum and we are not all made from a “one size fits all” formula.

Body positive yoga to me, means an environment where all bodies are welcomed, honored, and respected.

How can we as a society promote a healthy body image for all?

As a society we have to promote a healthy body image for all by demanding to have real and (unaltered instead of true?) true bodies on magazine covers and in TV programs and movies. We must show body sizes of all types, not just the “cookie cutter” stereotypes that we are so accustomed to. A culture that promotes positive body image would be one where beauty comes in many forms, shades and shapes.

Who are your yoga role models (if any)? Why?

Dianne Bondy is my role model at this particular moment. Her passion and commitment to the practice is admirable; she is fiercely dedicated to educating the Yoga community about the issues of inclusion, diversity, and positive body image in the media and Yoga world. She is a Yogi, teacher’s trainer, author, mother, wife, and great human being all around. I love her versatility, energy, and openness to other Yogis.

Why do you believe these issues and this work is important?

This work is important because we have the power to change the landscape of the stereotypical Yoga image as collective. We have the ability to create safe, healthy and positive spaces to express our beauty, regardless of what the media is pushing on us.

If you could say 1 thing to your younger Self, what would it be?

You are lovely!

Bio:

Maria Lopez aka #LaYogini, is a native of Oaxaca, Mexico who has made her home in Santa Barbara, CA. She created “Yogiando” (‪www.yogiando.com), as a bilingual lifestyle brand to cultivate wellness, health and balance through the practice of yoga, creating an outreach movement giving the Latino community access to the joy and benefits of yoga. A certified CorePower Yoga Instructor, Maria’s love of yoga was born 12 years ago with the Valentino brothers. Returning from a hiatus from yoga during which she dedicated herself to empowerment activism and community building, Maria has now fully committed herself to the practice of yoga for the last two years. Maria became certified YTT 200 hours at CorePower Yoga in Santa Barbara in September 2014. Her yoga teachings are practical, fun, and physically strong, concentrating on core, breath, and flow. She teaches classes in intermediate Ashtanga Yoga at Superior Fitness Center on Mondays (English), Tuesdays (Spanish), and Fridays (Bilingual), while substitute teaching & giving private classes at Bacara Spa Resort. Follow her in all social media outlets @Yogiando.

Maria Lopez aka #LaYogini, es native de Oaxaca, Mexico, creando en Santa Barbara, CA su hogar.  Ella es la creadora de “Yogiando” (www.yogiando.com) una marca de estilo de vida que ayuda a cultivar bienestar, salud y balance por medio de la practica del Yoga, creando un movimiento de inclusión dando acceso a la comunidad Latina el gusto y los beneficios del Yoga.   Como instructora de Yoga certificada por el CorePower, el amor por el Yoga de María nació hace 12 años con los Hermanos Valentino.  Regresando de una ausencia de yoga durante la cual se dedico a activismo de empoderamiento y organización de comunidades, Maria esta ahora comprometida a la practica del Yoga desde hace 2 años.  Maria se certifico en las 200 horas de entrenamiento como instructora de Yoga con el CorePower Yoga de Santa Bárbara en Septiembre del 2014.  Sus enseñanzas de Yoga son practicas, divertidas y físicamente fuertes, concentrándose en núcleo, respiración, y fluidez.  Ella enseña clases en nivel intermedio de Ashtanga Yoga en el Centro de Superior Fitness los Lunes (Ingles), Martes (Español), y Viernes (Bilingual), al mismo tiempo que actua como maestra substituta & ensaña clases privadas en el Spa at Bacara Resort.  Siguela en todos los medios social @Yogiando.

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