My beautiful daughter brought The Atlas of Beauty to my attention, and as I browsed the website taking in the images and reading the captions, I realized I had tears in my eyes as I experienced a deep connection to the creator of this beautiful book and the beautiful women she had photographed all around the world. Naturally I ordered a copy each, and I’m now counting the days until the parcel arrives in my mailbox.
You can investigate The Atlas of Beauty yourself on the link here.
This is the inspiration for the sankalpa I have chosen for our yoga practice in October:
I see beauty in all parts of my body, and experience harmony of mind, body and spirit.
Try saying it out loud and discover if these words flow easily for you, or if you encounter some resistance. If it is the latter, then I can identify because I too struggle with loving my ever changing body which no longer responds to my efforts to conform to the expectation of size 10 clothing. It is a journey of love and acceptance that I make progress towards as I say my personal affirmation every day: “I am grateful for my healthy body. I love my beautiful body through all its changes.”
I think we all have some understanding of why we hold unreal expectations of beauty for ourselves, and women particularly are critical of details of our physical appearance. Yoga can help us with that or sadly we can use our practice of yoga as a discipline to strive to continually fix and improve upon our appearance. Surely it would be better to pause and consider our motivation for our practice; and if we find the balance weighs too heavily towards feelings of judgment against our body, then lets resolve now to adopt this sankalpa. We can learn to see beauty in all parts of our body, and in doing so, make that connection between mind, body and spirit in a loving and nurturing way. The word ‘yoga’ means to connect, so I would wish for that connection to be one of harmony of mind, body and spirit rather than discord from self criticism.
Taking in all the images of beauty in the atlas of beauty I found it easy to see beauty in all women. Some that she photographed are breathtakingly beautiful, but others shine with an inner beauty. I could see beauty in every image and every woman; so why do I not see myself with those same loving and accepting eyes? It’s a good question, and one which I will remind myself of every time I say the sankalpa. I must confess that there are times I feel less than adequate to be standing in front of a class with my less than perfect body; but then I decide that at least I am not intimidating with my less than perfect body, and so hope that I set an example of being happy with who we are in this moment. Besides no-one actually has “a perfect body” so let’s love the body we have and be grateful for it.