What is this earthen bowl of treasure that you've
It's your belly. And loving your belly enables
you to claim the treasure inside.
What are you going to do?
If you're like most women, you've always been
told that your body isn't good enough, that your belly is
shameful. As far as you may know, there's nothing good about
a woman's belly unless it's flat and hard. You may have spent
many years and much effort trying to lose your belly, trying
to hide it from sight.
I know that the idea of loving your belly might
be challenging. Okay, it might be rather unconventional. Well,
given the culture's bias against women's bellies, loving your
belly might actually require some courage. But tell me: Whose
body is it, anyway? Who has the say-so? Who benefits when
you belittle your belly? Who benefits when you befriend your
belly and give yourself room to breathe? It's your body, your
belly, your life. Whose permission do you need to love yourself?
I know that loving your belly is a strange,
wild, unconventional idea. But what's the alternative? Do
you really want to miss out on the precious treasure that's
so close to home?
Although it's not necessarily easy, loving your
belly is actually simple.
Here's the plan—
The first step is unwrapping the bowl. You'll learn to let
your belly breathe. And I'll help you cancel the common misconceptions
that give woman's belly a bad name. You'll discover how your
belly boosts your physical health and emotional well-being.
Learning the truth will change the way you think about your
The next step is lifting the lid and opening
the bowl, creating a loving relationship with your belly.
You already know how to love. I'll suggest fifteen playful
ways you can extend your affection to your body's core, centralizing
Loving your belly enables you to open the bowl
and claim the treasure waiting inside. For each of the seven
jewels you'll find, I'll suggest patterns of breathing, imaging,
and moving. These belly-energizing exercises will make the
jewels shine all the more brightly for you.
The tips for loving your belly and the belly-energizing
exercises you'll find here are similar to those I've shared
with hundreds of women in my weekly classes, workshops, and
weekend retreats. They're the fruit of my more than twenty
years as a yoga teacher, yoga therapist, bodyworker, and health
I initially developed this material for my own
healing. These inquiries and exercises are what enabled me
to make peace with my belly and move beyond my own eating
disorder. I'll tell you my story later. For now, know that
you're joining an expanding circle of women who share this
adventure with you.
Throughout these pages you'll find women's words
about their own experience becoming belly-proud. Consider
these voices to be your personal chorus of support.
As we begin, please note that I'm not asking
you to engage in a self-improvement program. I am inviting
you to find out what the earthen bowl you've discovered, your
belly, is really worth.
Sure, you may want to change some of the ways
you think, feel, breathe, value, choose, move. I encourage
you to make such changes only because you're being true to
an ever-deepening sense of who you already are.
Why bother loving your belly? Because that's
the only way you can claim the treasure that's waiting inside.
Still, you might be wondering: Will loving my
belly flush away the fat? Will it trim my tummy?
If you are asking those questions, there's another one to
consider: What is your underlying concern?
Perhaps you hope that trimming your tummy will
allow you to like yourself better. (I can relate! And if this
is your concern, you're in company with many other women.)
In otherwise healthy women, I suspect that extra
belly fat can function as protective padding, a shield from
self-criticism and a buffer against the feeling of shame.
It's an intriguing possibility: Will replacing self-criticism
with self-respect allow that extra layer of fat to melt away?
If that's an experiment you'd like to make, I'm glad to help
you do so….
Does loving your belly make excess fat obsolete?
Does energizing your belly with movement and breath strengthen
your abs? That's been my experience. Tell me about yours.
As you love your belly, "trimming the tummy"
may become less of a concern. In fact, the problem itself
may fade away as you turn your attention toward self-affirmation.
Here's what one woman says:
"I rode the roller coaster of dieting
and deprivation and starving and depression. I felt I was
only worthy if I looked the way others wanted me to look.
My life felt like I was swimming upstream."
"Then, I began looking inside and started
to really glean the truth about myself, finally glimpsing
my essence. I discovered that none of it had anything to do
with the way I looked. I realized that the Universe doesn't
care how big my belly is…"
"As I learned these lessons about my
spirit, my internal Self, I began standing taller, smiling
more, moving with more purpose, and walking the path of self-love
I want to emphasize that I'm not making any judgments about
belly size or shape. I'm not saying big bellies are better
than small bellies. I'm not saying flat bellies are better
than round bellies.
I am saying: Love your belly, lose the shame.
Honor and exercise your belly as the source of your inner
strength—that's the best way I know to claim your inner
Why bother loving your belly? There's one more
Whatever happens to the center happens to the
whole. As you learn to love your body's center, you're on
the fast track to loving your whole self.
Above is an excerpt from The
Woman's Belly Book
by Lisa Sarasohn. If you are interested in purchasing a copy,
go to www.wisewomanbookshop.com
A review by Lynne Murray
The Woman's Belly Book: Finding Your Treasure Within
by Lisa Sarasohn
Dispelling the shame and learning
to love my belly certainly saved my life.
(The Woman's Belly Book, p. 102)
Yoga teacher Lisa Sarasohn is very serious
about women getting in touch with their bellies, a.k.a.
their sacred centers. This is a portion of women's anatomy
that causes intense anxiety. Mass media would have us believe
that bellies are fair game for ridicule unless they are
flat or rippling with muscle.
The belly has been the innocent target of
such tidal waves of negative media attention that even people
(of both sexes) who have accepted the rest of their bodies
often will view their bellies as the repository of all unworthiness.
The degree to which people seek to lose fat in that area
and have their bellies "disappear" tells us of
the desperate amount of hatred involved. Even when a woman
starves herself into minus clothing sizes and her rib cage
and other bones begin to show, she is likely to have some
fat on her abdomen. The anorexic death wish that women are
encouraged to foster makes it possible to demonize even
the amount of fat necessary for survival.
As Sarasohn puts it--
In many ways our culture "can't stomach"
woman's belly. Whether we're awake to it or not, that rejection
is painful. We often cope with the culture's rejection by
cooperating with it -- by scorning our own bellies, numbing
our core feelings, and denying our instinctive knowing.
We try to protect ourselves as well as we can.
When we cooperate with the culture's
rejection, however, we repress our sense of self. We muffle
our inner authority, guidance and purpose. We mute our creativity.
We restrict our sexual expression.
(The Woman's Belly Book, p.38)
"I always say tummy, never stomach or
belly," said a gentleman of my acquaintance who has
long admired larger-figured women. He is very careful about
how he expresses his attraction, though, because he has
learned the hard way that the very word "belly"
can cause emotional meltdown in women of all sizes. Tummy
is a less threatening word. It's an infantile word, like
"tush," and you could imagine rubbing a little
baby's tummy with affection.
Affection for tummies gets lost very soon
these days in a sea of negativity. Body hatred for young
girls can kick in even before grammar school. By the time
a woman reaches adolescence, when she thinks of her body,
she meditates not on its strength or beauty, but on what's
wrong with it.
Is there a woman alive in America who doesn't
know what her so-called "figure flaws" are? If
so, she must have never picked up a women's magazine, read
a book on clothing, watched a television program on self-improvement,
or talked to a helpful girlfriend who will be able to instantly
and generously inform her of just where her figure fails
to measure up to the ideal. How many women in America have
a wholesome relationship with their bellies?
The Woman's Belly Book bravely and
gently engages in dialog with those who might be hoping
that if they learn to love their belly, it will take on
the desired shape. The author says that many readers may
wonder, "Will loving my belly flush away the fat, will
it trim my tummy?" Each time she addresses this question,
she answers, in essence, "maybe," at the same
time directing the reader to a deeper level of inquiry.
Perhaps the author is basing her quiet, but
affirming approach on an understanding gained through her
own experience of decades of conflict. She says:
For twenty years, beginning when I
was seventeen, I devoted myself to "banishing my belly."
All I accomplished during that time was to make myself miserable
and jeopardize my health. For the next fifteen years, I
dedicated myself to deepening my body awareness and understanding
the significance of woman's belly in the context of history
This is the truth as I know it: Woman's
belly and the power it contains are necessary to our survival,
both as individuals and as a tribe. What's necessary to
our survival is sacred.
(The Woman's Belly Book, p. 102)
For those brave enough to read it and open
up to its message, The Woman's Belly Book provides wise
and helpful tools to peel away the layers of negativity
and open the long-smothered and constricted power of our
own body's center. Cause for celebration -- wisdom, energy
and treasure, all as close as your next breath and only
waiting to be uncovered, respected and energized
Click here to read
more about The Woman's Belly Book, by Lisa Sarasohn
Murray, February 2004.
Online Course by Lisa Sarasohn
Initiation 2012: Awakening Your Sacred Center, Part I
taught by Mentor: Lisa Sarasohn
The year 2012 heralds a revolution in human consciousness. The signs suggest that the Sacred Feminine will be informing, and reorganizing, every aspect of human experience. As we embody the Sacred Feminine, we'll be equipped to participate in - and shape - this evolution of human awareness with wisdom and grace. This course is the first part of an ongoing process in which you'll embody the Sacred Feminine by energizing your body's center with movement, breath, image, story, and voice. As a first step, this course focuses on befriending your body's center and learning ten yoga-based moves which will form the core of your practice.
Sign up for Initiation 2012
Honor your belly!! Discover
your treasure with in with Lisa Sarasohn
Woman's Belly Book:
Finding Your True Center for More Energy
Woman's Belly Book: Finding Your True Center for More Energy, Confidence, and Pleasure by Lisa Sarasohn ~~ Your body's center, your belly, is home to your core life force. It's the site of your soul power, the source of your passion and creativity, your intuition and sense of purpose, your courage and confidence. The Woman's Belly Book presents inspiring information, playful activities, and power-centering exercises to kindle the life energy concentrated in your body's core. Are you ready? Honor your belly and activate your Source Energy. Enjoy!
Retails for $15.95
"This warm and friendly book is filled with womb wisdom,
belly laughs, gut feelings, and pelvic power. It is--as subtitled--a
guide to buried treasure. I recommend it highly."
Read a review
Order THE WOMEN'S BELLYBOOK in our Bookshop
Your Belly DVD Video
This fun and instructional video with Lisa Sarasohn is much more than a set of conventional stomach-crunching exercises. This dynamic sequence of belly-energizing moves draws from the wisdom of yoga and other healing arts. This 45-minute DVD video teaches you a dynamic sequence of belly-energizing yoga moves that develop and direct the Source Energy concentrated in your body's center.
Price: $29.95 plus shipping