What is this earthen bowl of treasure that you've found?
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 belly.
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 your self-esteem.
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
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 educator.
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
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
Why bother loving your belly? Because
that's the only way you can claim the treasure that's
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
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
"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 and acceptance."
Again, 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 treasure.
Why bother loving your belly? There's
one more reason.
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
by Lisa Sarasohn. If you are interested in purchasing
a copy, go to
review by Lynne Murray
The Woman's Belly Book
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
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
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.
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
To read more about The Woman's Belly
Book, by Lisa Sarasohn,
© Lynne Murray, February 2004.
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.
Retails for $15.95