Sarah Harry is the Author of “Fat Yoga, Yoga for All Bodies” and is the Director of Fat Yoga and Body Positive Australia. She is a leading Eating Disorders and Body Image specialist, yoga teacher, psychotherapist, educator and activist.
She’s also a reformed exercise hater. Here’s her story:
I used to really hate exercise. And if you had told me I would write a book about it one day I would have thought you were totally crazy! Like right off the wall, what are you talking about, mad!
Mostly because I was that kid. You know, the one who was the slowest, the worst and the last picked for any kind of physical moving at school! In fact for years I thought I really hated exercise and I either did none at all or grudgingly went to the gym because I ‘should’ for a few weeks before abandoning it!
I have lost count of the amount of times people have said to me, “Oh, I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible enough”, or “My body hurts when I do (insert any kind of movement) so I don’t do any”, or “When I get down to X kilos I’m going to start”. And I totally get why.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Sometimes it’s just our own (or society’s) perception of the kind of bodies who do well at exercise. But really, moving is for every body, every ability, every fitness, every age. And it’s amazing! I didn’t like exercise well into my twenties because I hadn’t found my ‘thing’. And now I honestly know there is something out there for everyone.
And the secret is shifting your focus:
- Away from exercise as punishment
- Away from “burning” anything off
- Away from “have to” and “should”
- Away from “no pain, no gain”
And towards some other amazing concepts:
- Towards moving being “joyful and fun”
- Towards listening to your body and what it really needs (it may well need a rest, but it may also need a lovely walk in the sun)
- Towards self-compassion and understanding we may not feel like moving all the time
- Towards honouring and respecting your body
- Towards a totally new way of viewing movement
Joyful movement is amazing! It has enriched my life, improved my body image and helped me recover from an Eating Disorder. It’s helped me through depression, anxiety and post-natal depression. There is so much that moving can do to help us if we can just begin to look at it in a different way.
So, how do I start?
I would start with some reflection. Has there ever been a time in your life you have found an activity you liked or found fun? Or maybe you need to get creative. Do you love to dance? To Hula? To Pole Dance? Have you ever wanted to learn Circus Skills? These are all things my clients have tried as they have moved towards finding joyful movement for themselves.
Of course, there’s always yoga! You can join me on the mat anytime!