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The Connection Between Yoga and Body Image

There are few things that can be more soothing than a productive session of yoga. While originating in India over 4,000 years ago, the practice of yoga has seen a boom in popularity in Western societies; the United States alone has over 37 million people participating in recreational yoga. Although many people worry that the original purpose for yoga—fostering a positive mind-body connection and relationship—has been lost under a guise that yoga is a way to get a “hot body,” there is still evidence that practicing yoga has a positive effect on a person’s body image.

This can be a crucial key in helping some people build a higher self-esteem without feeling like they need to hit the gym six times a week, or completely alter their current lifestyle. Since yoga is such a lowkey and low maintenance form of exercise, it can be easy to squeeze in a yoga session pretty much anywhere! By practicing yoga consistently, it can become easier to build a positive self-image. Keep reading to find out how yoga can help the way you see your body!

1.     Yoga helps you practice presence  

The practice of presencing can be tricky in a world as fast paced and technology oriented as ours. It is hard to stay present in the current moment when the world seems to be flying past you. Through breathing exercises and the essential poses, yoga helps us to stay grounded in what is happening now, rather than any past event or future worries.

2.     Yoga shows you what your body can do

Depending on the type you choose to practice, yoga can certainly be physically challenging. While there may be some poses that you find difficult, the point of yoga is to recognize what your body is currently capable of. It helps you focus on what you can do, rather than what you cannot do. This recognition of your abilities can go a long way in helping your body image.

3.     Yoga calms your mind

It is no secret that yoga is an immensely calming activity. The nature of the practice calls for slowing down all aspects of your life—rapid breathing, movement, and thinking can be major obstacles to effective yoga practice. By taking the time to calm your mind, you are also calming your body. This overall relaxation can help improve your general sense of body habitus and image.

4.     Yoga can help you get toned

While this could be perceived as a potentially vain reason for yoga practice, it can certainly hold true in some cases. Consistent yoga practice (particularly at more advanced levels) can help tone up your body and increase your self-confidence. This, in turn, naturally increases the way you perceive your own body.

A woman performs a vertical yoga pose.
There are several benefits to consistent yoga practice. It can increase your body image in a myriad of ways. Image courtesy of

5.     Yoga provides a decrease in self-objectification  

An unfamiliar term to some, self-objectification is a potentially unhealthy focus on how your body looks rather than what it can do. Instead of appreciating your body for keeping you healthy and alive, you focus on all of the external, negative things you think about yourself.

Yoga has been proven to decrease thoughts such as these. Women who had experienced self-objectification reported a decline in these types of thoughts and also said they became more compassionate for their body’s abilities.

6.     Yoga can increase positive embodiment

Another potentially unfamiliar term, positive embodiment is the sense of feeling “at-home” with your body and fostering a positive connection with your body rather than focusing on the negatives. Many of the same women who reported a decline in thoughts of self-objectification also stated that they experienced greater increases in positive embodiment, and therefore a more accepting view of their body.

A group of women perform yoga.
Yoga holds a myriad of benefits for self-confidence and overall health. Image courtesy of

7.     Yoga can help you appreciate your body

The practice of yoga is built on the foundations of a positive and appreciative connection between both the mind and the body. Frequent (or even infrequent!) yoga practice can help you form an appreciation of your body through simple and complex poses, and the breathing practices that go along with them. A more open-minded view of your own body does wonders for increasing your overall sense of body image.

8.     Yoga stops us from judging

One understated aspect of yoga practice is the use of observation. When you engage in certain poses, you begin to observe things around you rather than judge them. Why would you not have the same attitude towards your own body? While you practice, stop judging what your body does and does not do. Instead, observe what it can do, and watch your body image skyrocket as you do so.

9.     Yoga can connect your mind and your body

As previously stated, the practice of yoga is twofold; it takes effort from both your mind and body to have an effective yoga practice. When your mind and body work together to flow effortlessly between poses, it develops a healthy connection between the two that is essential for a positive image of both your physical and mental self.

10.  Yoga taps you into your inner wisdom

With consistent practice, yoga can help your mind become clear of all the things that clutter it. It can provide you with a safe space in which you can be yourself and helps you to become attuned to your body and your mind. By allowing yoga to help you calm your mind, you can become more self-aware in regards to your past experiences with your body and why you may feel the way you do about yourself. While this can be a difficult process, it is something that is well worth doing and will have a positive effect on your overall wellbeing.

Two women hold a downward dog position.
The practice of yoga can be essential in helping people build a positive self-image and increase their overall levels of confidence. Image courtesy of

There are many ways in which yoga can help you boost your self-confidence! Go give it a try!