“Every exhale is an opportunity to forgive.” – Part 1 in the Yoga and Body Image Book Discussion Series

March 3, 2015
Photo // Sarit Z. Rogers


NOTE from Melanie Klein: When Anna Guest – Jelley and I embarked on writing and curating Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories about Beauty, Bravery, and Loving Your Body in what became a three-year project, we did so in order to highlight the complex and interwoven issues that intersect with yoga and body image as separate topics as well how they intersect with yoga and body image jointly. We hoped that by bringing forward a diverse array of voices and experiences, we could connect with a wider audience in order to inspire, heal and promote dialogue on the issues contained therein. With the emergence of book clubs examining the stories in YBI and sharing their own experiences on these topics, we feel our intentions in collaborating are being realized.

With that, I am honored to share this guest post by Anitra Cottledge discussing the first out of five meetings in an ongoing YBI book discussion series led by Dr. Beth Berila and Elen Bahr in the Twin Cities. Details here.

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GUEST POST by: Anitra Cottledge

One of the first things we did in the Yoga and Body Image book discussion was to talk about what brought us there in the first place.

What I saw and heard was a group of people with a variety of body types all expressing a need to talk about the ways in which the messages we receive about our bodies impacts the ways we come to the mat.

Exploring the first section of the book, “Making Choices and Creating Change,” was very apropos. Each participant identified chapters and snippets that were the most resonant for them.

I probably highlighted a good 30% of Linda Sparrowe’s essay, “Coming Home to the Body: Can Yoga Help or Hinder?” As someone who’s been thinking a lot lately about the ways in which we hold emotions in our bodies, her comment about “issues living in our tissues” was on point.

In fact, the theme of dis/embodiment was a reoccurring one, and prompted rich discussion around ideas like: How do we shift the narrative from how our bodies look to how they feel? How much is our body image a product of our own thoughts and feelings and how much is the way we see ourselves a mirroring of others’ perceptions of us? How can yoga practice be useful in breaking down the shame that we carry in and about our bodies?

All great questions without easy or simple answers. Some people won’t work through these questions with yoga practice, and that’s OK, too. This discussion series is just one of many places to start unpacking all of these ideas.

One of the other participants highlighted a line from “Too Much is Not Enough” by Dr. Melody Moore: “Every exhale is an opportunity to forgive.”

Pause on that for a second. “Every exhale is an opportunity to forgive.” Or in the words of the book discussion crew: Every exhale can be a moment where you embrace your inner wisdom as opposed to listening to your inner critic chatter on. (You know about the inner critic, or the little hater.)

Every breath can be a starting over, a moment of discernment, and a time to reassess what you need from yoga.

I came away from the first book group discussion with lots to think about. I’m looking forward to the next session on March 21. If you’re in the Twin Cities, I hope you’ll join us!


BIO: Anitra Cottledge is a higher education professional, teacher, writer, developing yogi and compassionate questioner who tweets infrequently.

One Comment

  1. Hi,

    I absolutely LOVED this book. In fact I bought it during the final weeks of competing my 200-hour Teacher Training. It has made a huge impact on my whole perception of yoga and what I want to do with my new certification. Do you have a schedule of where you will be for your future book group discussions? I am in Orange County, CA and would LOVE to be a part of one if you will be out this way anytime soon. Thank you so much for creating this book.

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