“I’ve never said this before.” – A Yoga and Body Image Coalition Workshop Weekend

February 17, 2015

Elen Bahr shares her experience from the Yoga and Body Image Coalition weekend workshop in the Twin Cities. 

Photo credit: Andy Howe

Top: Dianne Bondy, Elen Bahr, Beth Berila Bottom: Kerrie Kauer, Nita Rubio

Five words spontaneously became the theme of February’s Yoga & Body Image Coalition workshops in the Twin Cities. Over 100 people, most of whom had never met, came together over three days of discussion and workshops intended to address a complex and deep-rooted topic, the relationship between yoga and body image. We learned new options for poses. We practiced together. We shared thoughts.

We witnessed transformation.

I’ve been in other situations where like-minded people gathered around a common cause. Those experiences have been truly powerful. But, the Twin Cities workshops were different. Hearts and souls opened quickly, unfurling a blanket of safety and trust. Which is to say: It. Got. Real.YBIC5

If I had to guess, I’d say it had something to do with the vulnerability surrounding body image. It’s tough to approach the topic without personal stories coming out in full force. Each personal story builds and strengthens a sense of community. Each story helps us relate to each other. Each story creates a safe space.

YBIC4I want to recreate the workshop weekend. I want more of that feeling when strangers (if there really is such a thing) hugged me, held my hands and whispered, “I’ve never said this before.” I want more open, honest conversations about how we feel about our bodies – and how we wish we could feel about our bodies. I want more heads nodding “yes!” and more voices speaking out.

The truth is, I don’t need a workshop to make that happen.

YBIC6The work of the Yoga & Body Image Coalition is my springboard into action. From blog posts to podcasts to workshops to book discussion groups, the Coalition is creating ways for all of us to share our experiences and affect change. We’re working on an international level to broaden the vision of #WhatAYogiLooksLike and to create a yoga community that reflects the full range of human diversity.

So, I ask you: What have you never said before? What needs to be said? Your voice is honored and needed in the Coalition’s work. I’d love to hear from you. Email me and let’s continue these powerful and much needed conversations in our yoga communities!






imgp8334_pp2_ppp-e1422760419363Elen stepped onto her first yoga mat at age 44 after years of feeling too self-conscious and intimidated to try a class. She opened Yoga For Every Body to create a safe place for anyone who wants to try or practice yoga in a safe, non-competitive, non-judgmental studio. Elen serves on the national leadership team of the Yoga & Body Image Coalition, a dedicated group of folks working to make yoga a more welcoming community for all.

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