When I’ve gained weight (as I have in the pandemic), I have a tendency to engage in some really negative self-talk about my body. Not out loud. To myself. 

I would never say these things to another human, but somehow it’s acceptable to say them to myself. Why?

Diet culture is toxic. 👆🏻

Early in the pandemic, when I was trying to find my place in the Instagram universe, I began by following the obvious hashtags – #yoga, #mindfulness and #meditation. What I found was nauseating. The #yoga photos that garnered the most likes and shares were taken of flexible white women in pornographic poses. Those photos have nothing to do with yoga and everything to do with heaping shame onto people who do not look that way and who could not possibly contort their bodies that way (which is basically everybody). Even the photos and videos that were more about yoga featured hyper-fit teachers wagging their finger at the camera and then demonstrating an adjustment that “corrects” the pose.

I’m guessing you’ve seen those photos and videos. That’s why you don’t try a class or pick up your mat after a hiatus. You’re convinced you’re not able to do the things they show. And if you use those videos as the guide – you definitely won’t. But it’s a load of BS.

👉🏻 Repeat after me, “Diet culture is toxic.”

Let me clear something up here: Yoga is liberation. Period.

Anyone telling you differently (i.e., that it is for losing weight, getting stronger, more flexible, doing the “correct” pose, etc.) is selling something toxic.

Yoga has existed as a sacred spiritual practice for thousands of years to liberate us from a culture that tells us we are less than who we were created to be. NPR’s Life Kit podcast did an especially wonderful job of unpacking diet culture and explaining the shifts we need to make to resist it. (Seriously, listen to Life Kit. I don’t know how I survived without it!)

I want to add on to their wonderful, subversive list and offer you some simple mindfulness practices that can help alleviate the negative self-talk that results from diet culture:

  1. As soon as you wake up in the morning and take your first stretch, give thanks for your body as you move.
  2. If negative thoughts about your body come up during the day, take a deep breath and instead think of something you like about your body or are grateful your body does.
  3. As you fall asleep at night, put one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Give thanks for something you love about your body. Give thanks for what you ate today and how it helped nourish and sustain your body.

BONUS: If you are on Instagram and want some body positive feeds to follow, check out the feeds and hashtags that saved me: @diannebondyyogaofficial, @yogaforallbodies, @teebahbbodin, @healthy_with_kelsey, @themirnavator, @fringeish, @mynameisjessamyn and ME – @revnhavelka. You can also follow hashtags #yogaforall, #inclusiveyoga, #traumasensitveyoga, #mentalhealth, #restorativeyoga and #yogaforallbodies.

Subvert diet culture with me. Join me for my weekly body-positive, restorative yoga class Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. ET, or you can access the recording later. I always offer your first class free. In January 2022, I’m offering your first month of my Seeker membership for $20. That membership includes the weekly live yoga class, a library of 20+ class recordings (and counting!) and a monthly community care group coaching session.