articles & testimonials
InsideOut Yoga Celebrates Self-Acceptance
In a quiet, cozy room in a house in the Greenwood neighborhood, six women stand in Warrior Pose, each with her feet wide apart in a lunge, arms outstretched. Another woman guides the group, encouraging them to hold this strengthening pose while they focus on challenges that arise, and think about how they face these and other challenges in their lives. The women gathered in this room struggle not only with the daily ordeals of life, but also with their issues of body image.
In this country alone, millions of women battle with issues of body image. In fact, research shows that 80% of women are dissatisfied with their physical appearance. Women are constantly bombarded by the unattainable standard of beauty created and perpetuated by our culture. Six years ago, Kim Trimmer, of InsideOut Yoga, created the Women’s Workshop, motivated by the positive effect yoga has had on her own body image, as well as her recognition that people, particularly women, are incredibly hard on themselves, and especially critical about their bodies. She aspired to create a space where women learn to appreciate their bodies and challenge these common views of beauty.
Incorporating her background in counseling with her skills as a yoga and meditation teacher, Kim proposed a support group to encourage self-acceptance in women struggling with their perception of their bodies. This idea evolved into the Workshop, incorporating discussions, journaling, meditation, selected yoga poses, and other exercises. Debby Handrich, a former student of the Workshop, remarked “The driving issue for me was finding more comfort just living in my skin. I was hoping that a community of women working on the same goal would instill a feeling of unity instead of isolation. And instantly, it did. My body image issues are among the oldest issues I face. I came to the workshop for support and to offer support to others.”
Traditional exercise programs are often daunting to women with body image issues, because their self-consciousness is only magnified when they feel on display in their exercise clothing and pressured to keep up with others in a class, often in front of mirrors. Their focus shifts from internal to external, and the experience becomes more stressful than beneficial. Yoga, on the other hand, focuses on what the body can do and how it feels, rather than how it looks. Kim’s studio, in fact, has no mirrors, because, as she says, “When someone is grounded in the experience of being in their body, self-criticism isn’t as active, because the person is in their body, not judging it from the outside.” Through this awareness, women are encouraged to celebrate their strength and accept their limitations, without emphasis on competition with classmates or emphasis on perfection in a pose.
Another well-traveled route toward better body image is dieting, an approach that often creates unhealthy relationships with food. In contrast, the Workshop closely examines people’s relationship with food through a meditation exercise called “Conscious Eating,” in which workshop participants use all five senses to experience food and the eating process. Kim notes that through this process, the women who used to take food for granted now develop an appreciation for it, and they often realize that they don’t even like some of their “binge” foods. During one six-week Workshop, Nutritionist Jennifer Adler (from Realize Health) visited the class to share the idea of our bodies’ natural wisdom. People are less likely to trust their bodies when they are self-criticalof their bodies, she explained, so they ignore messages that the body sends, such as the need to fuel, communicated through cravings.
Kim is very clear about the goals of the Women’s Workshop. The purpose of the Workshop is not weight loss. However, although Kim discourages participation of anyone with that aim in mind, weight loss often occurs as women learn to love and care for their bodies from the inside out. Her objective is to help each woman become aware and accepting of who she is, and excited about “the possibility of who she can be without the crippling negative self-talk present in those with body image issues.”
Debby stated “I would recommend this class to any woman looking for support and a slow, solid approach to re-inventing the way she sees herself. Kim is an ideal instructor for these workshops because she knows that change does not come overnight, so she paces things accordingly. She brings this awareness and skill to all of her classes.” Indeed, Kim’s compassion, clarity, and consistency are evident not only in the Women’s Workshop but also in her teaching of every other class at InsideOut Yoga.
When asked what she learned about herself in the Women’s Workshop, participant Judy Rusinko responded “that I am fine the way I am; that my loved ones love me as I am; that I am enough as I am in the present moment; that food is a way of worshipping the temple that is your body; that I am a walking miracle because of who I am, not what I look like.”
Many women will spend thousands of dollars in their lifetimes on therapy, diets, exercise tapes, self-help books, and other attempts to improve their body image, but in this quiet, cozy room in the Greenwood neighborhood, other women will accept Kim’s invitation to the Women’s Workshop: “Imagine it – the possibility of feeling peace and contentment with your body just as it is…Enhance your sense of self-acceptance as you increase your strength and flexibility and relieve stress. Explore your relationship with your body, food and self. Move into feelings of love, joy, wonder and wisdom with your life just as it is.” Imagine it.
Kim’s advocacy of women and women’s issues has inspired her to organize the first annual Realize Your Radiance Day on March 17, 2007, intended to encourage each and every woman to celebrate her unique beauty.
InsideOut Yoga offers the best yoga classes I have ever taken. I have been in classes with instructors who have no idea how people really move. I have been treated with disdain by a few teachers. With Kim I feel supported and nurtured without being cloying. It’s yoga for regular people. I laugh and feel stupid sometimes, but never humiliated. It seems everyone feels awkward in some position or other but we all try. That’s the atmosphere that’s fostered. It’s why I keep coming back. If you can’t laugh, why bother.~anonomous yogi
I began yoga to develop core strength for a chronic back problem. The pace and guidance Kim gives has been immensely helpful. I look forward to yoga and always feel uplifted by my experience in Kim’s group. She is especially effective at helping us establish good practice habits, with individual attention and encouragement. Yoga with Kim is a pleasure. ~E
Kim is a very well prepared, knowledgeable teacher who always makes classes fresh and interesting. She is constantly expanding her continuing education in yoga and thus expanding her teaching skills. She tailors her approach to each individual in a caring, respectful way and creates a safe, supportive, fun environment. Those who have discovered Kim as a teacher are very loyal to her – she’s the best! ~DK, elder care worker
Kim’s classes are a good mix of humor, seriousness, information, and personal adjustments to improve poses, philosophic and spiritual thoughts and advice on whatever injury I’ve done to myself. I like the core muscle awareness and strengthening. I like all your help and feel like I’ve gotten so much (like learning my tendency to muscle my way through things) over these past 4 years of working with you. Kim challenges you but is very supportive at the same time. ~CR, software developer
Kim has a peaceful, calm demeanor, and spunky sense of humor. Laughter always feels so good and she does have a way of making me smile, laugh and just feel better. Who says you can’t laugh and do yoga at the same time? As for her classes, I really enjoy the intimate size because there is more opportunity for individual attention and when Kim adjusts my pose, I really feel it and it’s awesome! Kim is passionate about her work, she’s receptive, super-smart, compasionate, and always supportive. She provides thoughtful little luxuries, like sweetly fragrant eye pillows for closing relaxation…ahhhh.
Aside from weekly yoga classes, I’ve also participated in weekend workshops and 2nd Friday Restoratives. I can attest to the increased mindfulness and greater sense of peace and clarity I feel when the class/workshop has ended. I appreciate the fact that she offers these classes and workshops for all ages, with the goal of bringing people back to mindful, present and peaceful living… a welcome relief in a time of speed and information overload. ~SS, designer
I have taken classes from at least 12 different teachers and, by far, Kim is the best. Her attention to detail in the poses makes all the difference. I feel that I can really achieve much more without fear of injury. Kim’s practices have greatly increased my flexibility and I have much less overall pain since taking classes with Kim. This is becoming a lifestyle for me and I really look forward to my practices. And she is a really nice person – what more could one ask!~MC, seamstress
I am taller, stronger, more flexible, more aware of my body and how it connects with my mind, and well, I think my balance is improved – all thanks to yoga – thanks to Kim and to me too ~BC, actress
As a neophyte yoga student, I must attest to the quality of Kim’s yoga instruction. She is a blend of knowledge, information, patience, humor; tough at times, gentle at others. It is a joy to be her student. ~WF, carpenter
Kim IS yoga to me. I don’t’ think I could practice with anyone else. ~G, retired