Embodiment Coaching: Can It Help You Love Your Body?

Are you looking for ways to feel better about your body—no dieting or weight loss or special clothes or makeup or (eek!) dangerous surgery needed? Have you heard about practices like embodiment coaching yet aren’t sure you really get what they are or how they work?

First off, can I just tell you that I already truly adore you?! (Anyone who wants to feel better about themselves just the way they are is my kinda gal and already winning the body image game, if my mind). Still, I know you want intel – and I’m here to help!

Second, you’re in the right place if you’d like to learn how the concept of “embodiment” might help you feel more at home in–and happier with–your body! 

In this article, you’ll learn what embodiment coaching is, how it can impact your body image, and what’s involved (I mean, what do you actually need to DO to be more “embodied”?). You’ll also learn who it works best for and how to find a coach (or coach yourself!)

So let’s find out if this kind of coaching could help YOU (and those you care about!) when it comes to feeling more at home in your body today! (Hint: By doing some research, I figured out the answer is a big ol’ yes!)

What is Embodiment Coaching?

Before we get to the good stuff, let’s first just make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to what embodiment coaching is and isn’t. In my mind, embodiment coaching is a mix of life coaching, physical therapy, psychotherapy, and mindfulness all mixed into one.

With embodiment coaching, you usually have an end goal in mind, which is to work through some type of very specific personal problem, be it with work, a relationship, parenting, or another area of life.

Embodiment coaching can be a powerful approach to personal growth because it activates more than just our thought patterns. It focuses on promoting a deep connection between our body and mind. 

Embodiment coaching is based on the belief that our bodies hold important information about our thoughts, emotions, and experiences, and that by becoming more aware of–and connected to–our bodies, we can gain greater insights into ourselves, which is key when it comes to making lasting change. 

Unlike psychotherapy or run-of-the-mill life coaching, embodiment coaching promotes a deep connection between the body, mind, and spirit.

Embodiment coaches believe we can develop greater self-awareness, self-compassion, and resilience by solving our problems and challenges in connection with our physical body, leading to a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

Sounds amazing, right? But can it really work when it comes to helping me feel better about my body?

Can It Improve Body Image?

Here’s what I think: Heck, yes!

One of the key benefits of embodiment coaching is improved body image and self-esteem. And while it is often used to solve many personal problems, it happens to be particularly useful for people who struggle with body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. 

By exploring the root causes of negative thoughts and beliefs about one\’s body, you can learn to challenge harmful patterns and develop a more positive and fulfilling relationship with your bodies. This can lead to greater confidence, resilience, and self-assurance.

Embodiment practice can also help you develop a more positive and accepting relationship with your body, which can lead to greater body satisfaction and improved overall mental health. 

Just think about it: if you’re using your body to help unlock long-held blocks in your mind, you’ll at the very least walk away from the experience feeling a whole new respect for your physical self, right?

What do you do in embodiment coaching?

Good question! Embodiment coaches use meditation, breath work, and movement techniques to help you become more grounded in your body as well as more aware of your thoughts and feelings. 

In addition to doing body-based exercises, a coach might also include emotional exercises, mindfulness practices, and reflective conversations to help you explore how you feeling or what you\’re struggling with in order to help you resolve issues.

Through gentle, non-athletic movement, posture, awareness, and breathing, embodiment coaches say you can overcome obstacles and long-held mental blocks faster and that the changes you make are more likely to last over the long term. 

Curious about the details of what you might actually do during this kind of coaching? Here are more specifics that’ll give you a better vision of what a session might look like. 

Embodiment Practices: Your Quick Guide

  • Body scanning  This involves paying attention to different parts of your body, one at a time, and noticing any sensations or feelings you experience in each area. By bringing your awareness to different parts of your body and noticing any sensations or feelings that arise, you can become more aware of the different parts of your body and develop a greater sense of connection and acceptance.
  • Breathwork  Various breathing exercises can be used to help increase awareness of the breath, promote relaxation, and reduce stress.
  • Gratitude practices Practicing gratitude can be a powerful way to shift your focus away from negative thoughts and towards appreciation for what your body does for you. This might involve expressing gratitude for specific parts of your body, or for the overall health and vitality that your body provides.
  • Guided meditation Embodiment coaching may involve guided meditations that focus on body awareness and relaxation. By bringing your attention to the present moment, you can develop a greater sense of acceptance and appreciation for your body.
  • Mindfulness practices  These can include a range of techniques designed to help you become more present, such as mindful breathing, mindful walking, or mindful eating. Mindfulness and meditation practices can be effective for reducing negative self-talk and promoting self-acceptance.
  • Movement, postures, and physical activity  Embodiment coaching may involve exploring different movements and postures to help increase body awareness and develop more ease, balance, and flexibility in the body. This might involve exploring physical activities, such as dance, yoga, or strength training, and finding forms of exercise that feel enjoyable and empowering.
  • Positive self-talk  This might involve consciously choosing to focus on positive qualities of your body, such as its strength, flexibility, or resilience, and expressing gratitude for what your body can do. For some people, this can be a simple but powerful way to shift your mindset and promote greater body satisfaction. 
  • Sensory awareness  This involves paying attention to your senses, such as touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing, to help you become more present and in the moment.
  • Visualization  Visualization exercises can be used to help you connect with different parts of your body and develop a deeper sense of self-awareness.

Embodiment practices can be very individual, and what works for one person may not work for another.

It can be helpful to work with an embodiment coach or therapist who can help you identify the specific practices that will be most effective for promoting body satisfaction and developing a greater sense of connection with your body.

What is Feminine Embodiment Coaching?

Feminine embodiment coaching is a specific type of embodiment coaching that helps women (or people who identify as female) reconnect with and embody their feminine essence, power, and wisdom.

Feminine embodiment coaching is designed to help women:

  1. Develop a deeper sense of self-awareness
  2. Cultivate self-love
  3. Cultivate self-acceptance
  4. Tap into their inner wisdom
  5. Tune into their intuition

Just like other forms of embodiment coaching, it often includes a range of practices, such as meditation, breathwork, movement, body awareness exercises, and emotional processing.

In feminine embodiment coaching, these practices are specifically designed to help women connect with their bodies, release emotional blocks, and develop a greater sense of self-confidence, self-expression, and creativity.

Feminine embodiment coaching can be helpful for women who feel disconnected from their bodies, struggle with self-doubt or low self-esteem, or want to develop a deeper connection with their femininity.

It can also be beneficial for women who are experiencing stress, anxiety, or burnout and want to learn tools to help them manage their emotions and find greater balance in their lives.

Feminine embodiment coaching can be just as good and effective—if not better—than regular embodiment coaching when it comes to improving body image.

What Does Science Say About Embodiment and Body Image?

If you can’t fully put your confidence in something without knowing whether there’s research there–or not–you’re in luck! Several studies have shown that embodiment practices can be effective in improving body satisfaction and reducing negative body image. Here are some findings from studies on the topic:

  • Mindfulness-based interventions

Studies have found that mindfulness-based interventions, such as mindfulness meditation and mindful eating, can be effective in reducing negative body image and improving body satisfaction (Tapper et al., 2018; Alberts et al., 2016). These interventions have been found to increase body appreciation and reduce body shame and negative self-talk.

  • Yoga

Research has shown that practicing embodied yoga can improve body satisfaction, body image, and self-esteem (Daubenmier et al., 2018; Telles et al., 2017). Yoga, in general, has been found to promote greater self-awareness and acceptance, and to reduce negative body image and disordered eating behaviors.

  • Dance, Movement Therapy, Martial Arts

Studies have found that dance/movement therapy can improve body satisfaction, self-esteem, and body image (Schmais et al., 2015; Sabiston et al., 2016). This therapy has been found to increase body awareness, promote greater self-expression, and reduce negative self-talk and body shame.

  • Positive embodiment interventions 

Mirror exposure therapy and body appreciation exercises, for example, have been found to be effective in improving body satisfaction and reducing negative body image (Homan & Tylka, 2014; Tylka & Wood-Barcalow, 2015). These interventions involve focusing on positive aspects of the body and promoting self-compassion and self-acceptance.

Overall, research suggests that embodiment practices are effective when it comes to promoting greater self-awareness, self-compassion, and self-acceptance.

At the very least, trying some of these activities will help you–or your child–develop a more positive and respectful relationship with your body. 

Embodiment Benefits That Go Beyond Body Image

Feeling more at home in your body isn’t the only benefit of many of the embodiment practices mentioned above. In addition, they’re linked with a range of health benefits, both physical and psychological including:

Dieting is the leading risk factor for developing an eating disorder. If you’re engaged in embodiment practices which improve body satisfaction, you’ll be much less vulnerable to the lure of weight loss regimens in the first place.

  • Reduced Stress and Anxiety

Embodiment practices such as yoga, mindfulness, and meditation have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels. These practices can help to reduce the physiological effects of stress on the body, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, and can promote greater feelings of calm and relaxation.

  • Improved Physical Health

Embodiment practices such as yoga, dance, and movement therapy can improve physical health by promoting greater strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. These practices can also help to reduce pain and inflammation, and improve cardiovascular health.

  • Greater Self-awareness and Self-acceptance

Embodiment practices can promote greater self-awareness and self-acceptance. This can lead to greater confidence, self-esteem, and overall well-being in other areas of life beyond just how you feel about your body.

  • Improved Mood and Emotional Regulation 

Embodiment practices can help to improve mood and emotional regulation which can help you develop greater self-compassion and reduce negative self-talk.

  • Improved Cognitive Function

Embodiment practices such as mindfulness and meditation have been shown to improve cognitive function, including attention, memory, and decision-making. These practices can also promote greater creativity and innovation.

  • Enhanced Social Connection

Embodiment practices such as dance and movement therapy can enhance social connection by promoting greater empathy, understanding, and communication. These practices can also help individuals develop greater respect and appreciation for others.

How Do Embodiment Practices Improve Body Image?

Okay, so you’re thinking this embodiment practices sound like they’re worth a shot when it comes to helping you feel good about your body, right? Still you might be wondering how this actually works.

  • Developing awareness Embodiment practices help individuals to become more aware of their bodies, including sensations, feelings, and physical experiences. This increased awareness can help to reduce negative self-talk and promote greater acceptance and appreciation for the body.
  • Fostering self-compassion Embodiment practices can help individuals to develop greater self-compassion and reduce self-criticism. This can lead to a more positive and accepting relationship with the body.
  • Promoting self-care Embodiment practices can also promote greater self-care and nurturing of the body. By engaging in practices such as movement, mindfulness, and positive self-talk, individuals can develop a greater sense of care and respect for their bodies.
  • Encouraging a more holistic view of health Embodiment practices can help individuals to shift their focus away from appearance and towards overall health and well-being. This can lead to a more positive and balanced relationship with the body, and a greater sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

Is It Good for Kids?

Yes, embodiment practices can help children develop greater self-awareness, emotional regulation, and body satisfaction, and can promote overall well-being.

In fact, starting young is a great way to provide a foundation for a positive and accepting relationship with their bodies. That means they’ll be less likely to have to “heal” their relationship with their bodies or overcome dissatisfaction when they get older.

When it comes to some of the body image boosting practices mentioned above, it is important to work with a qualified practitioner or therapist who is trained in working with children. 

Kids, especially school-age and younger, may need age-appropriate modifications to some of these practices.

Here are some examples of embodiment practices that are often used with kids:

  • Mindful breathing

Children can be taught to focus on their breath as a way of calming their bodies and minds. Mindful breathing can help children develop greater awareness of their physical sensations and emotions, and can promote greater emotional regulation and self-control.

  • Yoga

Many children enjoy practicing yoga, and there are many yoga classes and videos that are specifically designed for children. Yoga can help children develop greater strength, flexibility, and balance, and can promote relaxation and a greater sense of calm.

  • Dance/Movement

Children often enjoy dancing and moving their bodies, and dance/movement therapy can be a helpful way of promoting greater body awareness and self-expression. Dance/movement therapy can help children develop greater self-esteem and body satisfaction, and can promote greater emotional regulation.

  • Creative expression

Art and creative expression can be helpful ways of promoting embodiment and self-expression in children. Children can be encouraged to draw, paint, or use other creative mediums as a way of exploring their emotions and physical sensations.

How Do I Find a Coach?

As far as I can tell, embodiment coaching isn’t a regulated discipline or profession.

People who call themselves embodiment coaches have usually enrolled in an embodiment coaching certification or taken an embodied facilitator course.

However, there’s no larger organization that offers oversight, requires continuing education, or sets standards or best practices that all coaches must adhere to in order to keep their skills current or within certain ethical standards. 

With that in mind, if you’re looking for a reliable coach to help you or your child with body image in particular, I recommend finding another licensed healthcare provider (say a psychologist, therapist, social worker, nurse practitioner, dietitian, or medical doctor) who works with eating disorders or body image issues specifically and incorporates embodiment theory into their practice. 

Can I Be My Own Coach?

Um, ya. That’s what I was thinking! If coaching is out of your budget or unavailable, you might not need an embodiment coach at all! You can start your own personal practice of being more embodied first by being more mindful of your movements, breath, and physical sensations when you’re physically active.

You can also learn more about how to connect with your body and connect your body to your thoughts via videos, books, and free education from sites and podcasts such as those offered at Embodiment Unlimited.

Participating in physical activity in general has been shown to improve body satisfaction–regardless of whether someone is coaching you through it or linking it specifically to your body image. And that benefit is independent of any changes in body shape, size, or weight!

So while a coach might help you resolve body image issues faster or be necessary when it comes to overcoming very significant issues, such as an eating disorder, regular physical activity on your own has the power to help you be more “embodied” and feel better about your body! 

Getting in the habit of doing it regularly will likely make a big difference in how you feel about your body.

Are There Good Books on Embodiment?

If you’re not quite ready for a coach yet don’t feel like you can just get in there and start being more embodied via physical activity yourself, investing in a body can be a good way to some solid support.

There are several great books on embodiment coaching, each with its unique perspective and approach. Here are a few options to consider:

These are just a few options, and there are many other great books on embodiment coaching out there. I encourage you to read reviews and do further research to find the one that resonates most with your interests and needs. I’ll update this list as I find more resources.

Is Embodiment Coaching Worth It?

So what do you think? Does embodiment coaching–or even the idea of being more embodied in general–sound like a good tool to use when it comes to feeling better about your body?

Since the embodiment practices can boost physical health in addition to body image, they have research to back them, and they kinda sound like fun, I’d say “yes!”

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