Yoga May Aid Body Image, Cut Eating Disorders
Mind-Body Workout May Help Women Make Peace With Their Bodies
WebMD News Archive
Which Came First: Yoga or Body Image?
Did yoga enhance women's sense of their bodies, or did it attract women who
already felt good about themselves? More research is needed to find out.
Daubenmier's study didn't assign women to do any particular form of
Also, "most individuals at risk [for eating disorders] are younger"
than many women in the study, says Daubenmier.
Of course, many women who exercise aerobically don't have eating disorders.
Health experts encourage men, women, and children to exercise regularly and
lead an active lifestyle for optimum health.
Yoga practitioners learn to tune in to the body as it moves through the
poses. That could emphasize the body's abilities, instead of its appearance,
say the researchers.
Tips for Yoga Novices
Most of the study's yoga fans practiced Iyengar yoga. "That invites
participants to develop sensitivity and responsiveness, in contrast to more
fast-paced yoga," Daubenmier tells WebMD.
"I would recommend starting with slower Iyengar yoga to develop body
awareness and familiarity with the poses," she says. The slower pace should
help people avoid injury while developing confidence in listening to their
bodies, says Daubenmier.
Mindful Aerobic Exercise
People who learn mindfulness from yoga can also use that approach with other
forms of exercise, says Daubenmier. "These are mindfulness skills that you
can then transfer over to cardiovascular workouts," she tells WebMD.
Daubenmier says aerobic workouts are often driven by music or a teacher's
pacing. "It's result oriented -- what the readout on the machine tells you
or the rhythm of the music, rather than listening to your own body."
Daubenmier says a study could compare the same aerobic class under two
conditions: driven by music and teachers, or by self-pacing, breathing, and
That study may be done one day. Meanwhile, mindfulness can already be tapped
for your next workout, whatever it may be.