Weight a Minute: Using Yoga to Love Instead of Judge. ~ Candice Hammack

Via Candice Hammackon Oct 21, 2013

Buddha by Natalie Marie Smith

For some reason or another, I have never fully felt or understood the effects of society’s projections on body image, women’s bodies especially but men’s bodies too.

It was this thing that I knew existed but never paid too much attention to.

Until recently; when I felt it very strongly and poignantly.

It happened a few weeks ago before I moved. I visited my grandmother and she poked (jokingly or not…I don’t know) at me and said that I looked like I had gained weight in my belly.

“Really Granny? But I feel so strong! Feel my abs of steel!” was my shocked yet humored response.

It wasn’t until after I left her house, that I really felt the effects of that comment. Why would she say that? Is that true? Have I gained weight? But how!? I feel like I eat well… I exercise often… and I think well.

(And if you stop reading this post now, know that that is all that matters:

Do you eat for nourishment and feel satisfied? Do you exercise because you love it and because it makes you feel well? Do you think well? Are your thoughts positive and clean? Are you kind? If so… continue what you are doing. Nothing else matters!!!!!)

So that one comment got me thinking a bit. But I let it go shortly. Maybe the next day.

Then it really happened! I did it to myself!

I just had a photo shoot with a great photographer here in NYC. I needed an updated headshot and a few yoga pics. He took 250 pictures and gave me the unedited version on a cd to look through.

At home, alone, I was browsing my pictures. Terrible idea. Oh boy, did I start to get critical. “Wow, is that what I look like in that pose? My back and belly make rolls when I do yoga asanas!”

All of a sudden, my self image was shot to shit for at least a few days. Days!

Days of thinking less of myself because of my visual image are too long, even hours are too long. Days of not loving myself completely and entirely are too long. Because you know what?

I started to judge and criticize other people’s shortcomings because I was unhappy with my own.

It rippled fast. But I guess when you live with a partner or loved one… there is a mirror to reflect it all. Being critical of my lover (not about self image… but little, silly things) reflected my criticisms of myself.

Just like that.

Disconnect.

An argument.

Too many hours of feeling distant and alone.

Too long to not feel love.

Yoga is loving the spirit inside of the postures. Not the poses. Or the documented pictures of them. All of that is illusion. Deception. Pictures can be such liars.

Yoga never wants to make you feel less of yourself. If yoga was embodied and wrapped in one enlightened being, yoga would never judge the back or belly rolls. Yoga loves you. Yoga is a tool and guide to loving yourself so you can love your partner, spouse, children, and neighbors more deeply.

Deeply and completely.

Yoga goes inward. Image is outward. So go inward.

It seems recently that I have practiced in or taught yoga in a lot of studios that have huge mirrors showing our physical, outward practice back to ourselves in the moment. Very lovely for all the yoga perfectionists out there, right?

Okay. So this is the deal.

If you are practicing yoga in front of a mirror, or even the next time you look at a mirror… you better damn well be telling yourself that “My, my, I am a sexy Goddess (or God)

Critique less and love more.

Love yourself as a way of loving those closest to you. Be good to yourself.

Inwardly, be kind and the rest will follow. Stay soft. Or at least have moments of that soft, truly connected, whole hearted, “I love you no matter what” feeling.

Next time you catch yourself judging your weight, appearance, or image or someone else is judging yours… just wait a minute.

Find interest in this shallow and surface mask society can wear. Ask it where it comes from? Who is affected? What might a trail of these thoughts look like? And what may happen if we don’t catch it after a few days? How much pain are we self-creating? How much pain can an unconscious and unkind comment cause?

Go deeper. Rise above it. Know it. It exists. Understand it. And turn the critical eye into an open heart.

Our society deeply needs it.

So these pictures are from my shoot.

Real.

Raw.

Imperfect.

Zero editing.

The truth.

Candice Hammack Yoga

Candice Hammack Yoga2

And you know what?

They are fucking fabulous.

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Assist Ed: Sanja Cloete-Jones/Ed: Sara Crolick

{image of Bhuddah via flickr by nataliemariesmith}

About Candice Hammack

Candice Hammack is a yoga teacher and practitioner by day, an artist and painter by night, a lucid dreamer by morning, and a 24/7 lover of life. She is on the path of psychology, spirituality, and the magic of where they meet. She enjoys boarding planes, boats, and trains and will always find the time for a little bit of personal adventure. She can be found in either of her favorite cities: Austin or NYC, depending on the weather. For more information and to contact Candice, check out her blog.
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3 Responses to “Weight a Minute: Using Yoga to Love Instead of Judge. ~ Candice Hammack”

  1. sabine says:

    Great pictures – you were being way too hard on yourself. As a casual observer who doesn't know you, I would just offer one little piece of advice that I recently learned about my own body….
    as much as I love my body – imperfections and all – I wear clothes that help conceal what I consider my imperfections.
    Like most people, I don't enjoy people judging my rolls, bulges and perceived fat (hey, I'm not completely enlightened…lol…) so when teaching a class – or taking pictures – I make sure to wear something that makes me feel comfortable and beautiful.
    End of sermon. :)
    Much peace,

    • Candice Hammack says:

      Reader Sabine,

      Yes! Totally agree! However, the photoshoot was a symbiotic exchange…I was looking for yoga pics (which I did receive) and my photographer was looking for a specific look for his portfolio, so it was definitely a growing, learning, and stretching out of comfort zone opportunity. But yes! Always great to be comfortable in our clothing and bodies!

      Thank you for your lovely comment <3 <3

  2. Added value: Here’s a worthwhile discovery that you can apply pretty much throughout the grocery store: Most products labeled “quick” or “instant” are barely any faster than the real thing, invariably have been packed with weird, bad-tasting, science-y ingredients, and always cost more money. This kind of stuff is invented because there aren’t many ways for food companies to increase their profit on the sale of, say, an apple. They have to add value to that apple. So they slice half an apple, sprinkle it with a preservative, and seal it in a single-serving bag: Voila! A ready-packed snack to sell for easily twice the price of a humble piece of fruit, and with a shelflife of months and the opportunity to emblazon a colorful brand logo on a piece of plastic packaging. All of which is to say, creepy. For me, real food, please.

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