By Emily Nolan
I’ve been a size zero and a size 16. I was not happier at either size, and what I realized through years of eating disorders and body dysmorphia is that happiness does not come from a size — it’s a state of mind. It comes from within.
After this realization, I stopped obsessing about my body and started focusing on being brave enough to love it, just the way it is. In this practice, I learned that taking my shirt off and moving my body in a supportive environment — with the intention of being healthy — was a healing practice to compliment all of the commitments I’m making to love myself, just the way I am.
I’ve been a size zero and a size 16. I was not happier at either size. Here are 10 reasons why I choose to take my shirt off in yoga:
1. I’m redefining what healthy looks like.
In Boat Pose (Navasana), I begrudgingly take a peek at the strong core that holds me in the slightly imperfect “V” shape, and smile as I say “thank you” to the softer, outer shell of my strong core.
2. I’m empowering others.
Whenever I take my shirt off, I notice that a lot of the women who might normally declare, "I'd never take my shirt off in yoga,” begin to feel more comfortable in their own body. I’ll even get a thumbs-up from them for taking my shirt off.
3. It’s an act of bravery.
Many of us are afraid to reveal what’s under our shirt, because we spend our entire lives hiding under it. Be brave, it’s liberating to reveal your true self.
4. I cool off.
Sometimes, it’s just too darn hot to keep my top on in yoga! Take that puppy off and cool down, sister.
5. It’s a practice of confidence and self-love.
Taking my shirt off in yoga and practicing in my sports bra with confidence is pure beauty. I’m instantly one of those people that others feel drawn to, because confidence in your own skin radiates way beyond vanity and into the personal space of others.
6. I’m standing up for organic beauty.
I’m a big believer in feeling beautiful in the truest form of myself, sans makeup. When I can get to that place of satisfaction just as I am, that’s when makeup and fashion become fun and not mandatory. It’s so refreshing to be around a woman who doesn’t apologize for not having any makeup on, or needing to look a certain way.
7. It’s a reminder to myself that I’m greater than my body.
Taking my shirt off in yoga is a great reminder that my body is just a vehicle, and my spirit is so much more than an impersonal vessel.
8. It’s a lesson in letting go.
When I can breathe through my belly with my shirt off, I’ve aced this practice. If you’re trying to let go, keep breathing through your belly and know that you’re so inspiring.
9. It makes me feel vulnerable.
When I expose the area I’ve hidden beneath my shirt for almost an entire lifetime, it feels new and makes me feel vulnerable. When it’s for the greater good, I can always find growth in vulnerability and radical honesty.
10. It's a great feeling to uncover and share your heart with your neighbor.
When you take your shirt off and practice in your sports bra, there’s nothing blocking you from sharing your heart with your neighbor in your twisted prayer pose. Give your heart away! It’s just yoga. And above all else, don’t take yourself too seriously … have fun with it!