Meditation and Body Image – Meet Alanna Kaivalya

January 22, 2015

imageThe Yoga and Body Image 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 community ally, Alanna Kaivalya.

What does “healthy body image” mean to you?

It means not approval seeking. It means feeding your body what is healthy — both via food, thoughts, and attention.

What is yoga’s impact on your body image?

Yoga’s greatest impact on my body image is that I really don’t think about it anymore. My focus lies not on the size of my thighs, or the curviness of my body. It isn’t something I really consider, or even worry about. Yoga practice has allowed me to shift my priorities away from the stress of seeking approval from the culture for what I look like and toward the deep connection I feel when I practice. That is most important, and every day, I’m grateful for my body for being the proper vehicle for that pursuit.

A body is the perfect house for practices of the spirit and I’m grateful for my body. The biggest tool/practice was meditation, which helped me to internalize my strength and power, rather than seeking outside for any validation of who I was. I know who I am now…that’s the power of yoga, and it only comes from the internal connection.

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

It would be a culture that doesn’t obsess over it at all. We’ve got bigger things to address than how skinny or pretty people are. Let’s get over it and start turning our attention to the things that really matter, like being happy. We are the most depressed society in history, and while I agree that having a healthy body image is part of that, it really is so much bigger. There is a cultural shift that needs to occur…and, yoga practitioners with their focus in the right place (inside) are just the ones to help create that shift.

Describe one of your transformational moments on your mat.

My transformational moments happen on my cushion! And, the good news is, they’re mine. Yoga has long been a secret practice, and that modesty helps to preserve it’s sacrality for the practitioner. It is best to not share our most transformational moments, actually. Again, for the reasons that the internal journey is the most profound one. What I can tell you is that transformation happens at the edge of an experience, just when we think all hope is lost…that is when we are ripe for transformation. I’ve been there many times in my life–house fire, robbery, breakups, financial disaster–and in every case, it is my yoga practice that has saved me. Not my asana, but rather, my meditation, my chanting and my satsang. That’s where the magic of yoga is reaped.

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

Get over yourself. There’s something much bigger happening inside you!

Short Bio:

 Alanna Kaivalya is a modern mythologist & mystic reinterpreting the heart of yoga for modern practitioners. She is the founder of The Kaivalya Yoga Method and an internationally published author. Alanna is listed as one of  Yoga Journal’s Top 20 Teachers Under 40 and focuses on fixing what’s “broken” in yoga. Her first book, The Myths of the Asanas, showcases the myths behind the poses and her newest book, Sacred Sound: Discovering the Myth and Meaning of Mantra and Kirtan, illustrates the myths behind the most sacred yoga mantras and chants.

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