Integrating Body & Mind – Meet Carol HortonJuly 16, 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 advisor, Carol Horton.
Describe yoga’s impact on your body image.
I practice yoga to integrate my body and mind in synergistic, creative, and empowering ways. The more that my body and mind are connected to, conversant with, and supportive of one another, the less it makes sense to have any sort of “body image” at all. Rather than having my mind construct an image of my body, which is inherently self-separating, I practice feeling into the deeper reality of holistic be-ing. Of course, this isn’t easy – that’s why yoga is a life-long practice. The more that I practice, however, the more my body/mind connection strengthens – and, the more I’m able to access the inherent mystery and beauty of everyday life.
How does yoga impact body image in general?
Yoga offers exceptional tools for developing healthy, positive, and loving connections to our own bodies. Unfortunately, these yogic resources have become polluted by commodified images of the idealized (read: Photoshopped) “yoga body.” As yoga teachers and practitioners, we have the power to co-create a new culture that rejects such inauthentic and disempowering messaging. This will benefit not only the yoga community, but the world!
Who are your yoga role models? Why?
I love the Off the Mat, Into the World team of Seane Corn, Hala Khouri, and Suzanne Sterling for modeling how women can work together to harness our beauty, intelligence, and power to fuel collective projects of positive social change.
Why do you believe these issues and this work is important?
In 20 years of practice, I’ve seen yoga transform countless individual lives for the better – including my own. At the same time, however, I’ve seen commercialized, pre-packaged imagery of the “yoga body” become more and more common – to the point where it’s come to influence, if not define how all-too-many people understand and experience the practice. I support the Yoga and Body Image Coalition because I know that together, we can address this problem and co-create a more authentic, empowering, and deeply transformative yoga culture.
Carol Horton, Ph.D., is the author of “Yoga Ph.D.: Integrating the Life of the Mind and the Wisdom of the Body,” and co-editor of “21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice.” A popular writer and speaker, Carol offers lectures, workshops, and yoga teacher trainings on modern yoga history, contemporary yoga culture, and yoga service and outreach worldwide. She serves as a teacher and Board member with Yoga for Recovery, a Chicago nonprofit offering yoga to women in Cook County Jail, and as a program consultant to yoga service organizations. An ex-political science professor, Carol holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago, is the author of Race and the Making of American Liberalism, and has published numerous research reports on programs and policies affecting low-income children and families.