Body-Positive Yoga Cues You Can Use in Common Poses



Body-Positive Yoga Cues You Can Use in Common Poses

Yoga is more than just a physical practice; it’s a spiritual and mental discipline that promotes holistic well-being. The body-positive yoga movement is a breath of fresh air in a society where the image of the perfect “yoga body” often dominates the narrative. It seeks to create a space where all bodies are celebrated, and practitioners are encouraged to honor their unique physicality. In this guide, we explore practical body-positive cues that democratize yoga practice and act as affirmations of self-love and acceptance.

Understanding the Body-Positive Yoga Movement

The body-positive movement in yoga is a response to the exclusionary standards typically associated with the discipline. It promotes a more nurturing and holistic approach to practice. It underlines the essence of self-acceptance, acknowledging that each individual is a whole person worthy of love and that every body can be a yoga body. This reorientation of focus empowers individuals to listen to and respect their own body’s cues, fostering an environment of inclusivity and support in yoga spaces.

Body-Positive Yoga Cues for Common Poses

Incorporating body-positive language and cues in your yoga practice can transform your experience. Here, we provide specific cues for several common yoga poses. This will help yoga teachers to shift the language from traditional, ‘perfect’ form to accepting and supportive guidance.

Eagle Pose: Focused on Centering the Body and Mind

Traditional Cue: “Wrap your right leg over the left, hooking the foot around the calf or ankle. Sit as low as you can, bringing the elbows in line with the shoulders.”

Body-Positive Cue: “Invite a gentle wrap with your best attempt to connect your legs. Find balance as you sit to a level that feels comfortable for your body. There’s no need to push it too hard or too far.”

Warrior I: Emphasizing Strength over Perfection

Traditional Cue: “With your right foot forward, bend the front knee to a 90-degree angle, ensuring the knee tracks over the ankle. Square your hips as much as possible to the front of the mat.”

Body-Positive Cue: “Step your right foot forward and deeply bend the front knee, while allowing your back heel to stay grounded. Focus on your breathing and feel the strength in your posture, without worrying about perfectly square hips.”

Downward Dog: Focusing on Alignment and Comfort

Traditional Cue: “From all fours, tuck your toes and lift your hips high to the sky. Press firmly into the mat with your hands and heels, aiming to create an A-shape with your body.”

Body-Positive Cue: “Send your hips up and back, lengthening the spine. Feel free to keep a generous bend in your knees to protect your hamstrings. Your version of a Downward Dog is perfect for your body today.”

Tree Pose: Encouraging Balance and Self-Acceptance

Traditional Cue: “Transfer the weight onto the left foot and press the sole of the right foot against the inner thigh or calf, avoiding the knee. Hands can be in a prayer position at the heart, or stretched overhead.”

Body-Positive Cue: “Ground down through your standing leg and place your other foot wherever it feels good, whether it’s on the calf, or tucking it at ankle level. Lift from the heart, finding your balance.”

Child’s Pose: Promoting Relaxation and Inner Connection

Traditional Cue: “From all fours, sit your hips back towards your heels, extending the arms forward. Rest your forehead on the mat and breathe deeply.”

Body-Positive Cue: “Gently fold your body towards the earth, knowing you can always choose to open your knees and give your belly space between thighs. This is your time to rest and connect with your breath and body.”

Benefits of Body-Positive Yoga

Adopting a body-positive approach in yoga practice yields manifold benefits, beyond improved flexibility and strength. Body-positive yoga empowers practitioners to appreciate and love their physical selves, fostering a sense of confidence that transcends the mat. By focusing on each individual’s unique capabilities, body-positive yoga affirms the value of diversity, nurturing a culture of inclusivity and acceptance.

Lastly, utilizing supportive language in yoga sessions enables a deeper connection with the body. This enhances your students’ mindfulness and the ability to respond to their body’s needs compassionately.


Incorporating Body-Positive Language in Practice

For yoga teachers and teachers-in-training, the language used is crucial in creating a body-positive atmosphere. Here are some tips on how to incorporate such cues effectively.


Tips for Yoga Instructors

  • Always speak in the present tense, fostering a current, rather than future, state of being.
  • Offer options and variations, encouraging students to explore what feels right for them at that moment.
  • Use reflective and non-judgmental language, avoiding phrases that imply ‘good’ or ‘bad’ form.


Tips for Yoga Practitioners

  • Listen to your body’s signals and honor its needs.
  • Be patient with your practice, acknowledging that every day is different.
  • Appreciate the uniqueness of your body, and rejoice in the capabilities it brings to your yoga experience.

Beyond the Language: More Tips on Creating an Inclusive and Empowering Yoga Space

A body-positive yoga space is one where all individuals are represented and supported. Here are some practices to make your yoga space more inclusive.

1. Offer a Range of Prop Options

Having a variety of props like blocks, straps, and blankets allows practitioners to modify poses to suit their body’s needs.

2. Use Inclusive Marketing and Imagery

Ensure that your advertising and imagery represent a diverse range of body types and abilities, reflecting the spectrum of yoga practitioners.

3. Provide Opportunities for Feedback

Creating an open dialogue allows for continuous improvement in the way yoga is taught and practiced.

Radiate Body Positivity in Every Pose

Yoga is a personal and intimate practice that speaks to the unique essence of each individual. Incorporating body-positive language and cues into your practice or instruction can create a ripple effect of self-love and community acceptance. By acknowledging the beauty and strength of all bodies, we can revolutionize the yoga experience. Encourage, accept, and love – these are the foundations of a body-positive yoga practice that transcend well beyond the studio walls. Let’s continue to inspire and uplift each other as we share the gift of yoga.