An Interview with Robert Butera PhD

1. Your new book is Body Mindful Yoga. What inspired you to write the book?

We felt called to explore the relationship between language and body image and offer readers a method for proactively letting go of dis-empowering language and embracing empowering language. Our words shape our reality, and this includes our body image. Yoga is a powerful lens through which to study this relationship and create this meaningful change in our lives. Our intention is to guide readers to transform attitudes and beliefs that keep them stuck in dis-empowering body narratives about how they should look, perform, and age into self-affirming ones. Self-validation is not necessarily the response we are taught when it comes to body image, especially in a culture that thrives on external validation. The problem is that when we habitually rely on others to validate our worth, we never truly learn how to validate ourselves. As a result, we become enmeshed in guilt, shame, and comparison as we constantly strive to arrive at an ideal. The consequence is that we lose sight of our unique qualities in exchange for external validation. We, the authors, understand this reality, as we both have lived it on various levels. However, we know there's a better, more fulfilling, and truthful way to be a member of society than to mirror values that cause us to underestimate our worth. This is the body mindful yoga way that we teach in our book, and it begins with our words.

2. How can a yoga practice improve our relationship with our body?

Yoga is traditionally thought of as a physical or fitness activity. Yoga is vast in nature, however, and includes physical, mental, and spiritual practices that originated in ancient Indian philosophy. Yoga's philosophies offer guidelines for how to cultivate compassion and appreciation for ourselves (including our bodies), others, and the world. Yoga education considers all dimensions of a person during the learning process, including their emotional, spiritual, physical, and intellectual health. The first half of the book is focused on the yoga practice of self-study or reflection to help readers understand their starting point in their relationship with their body and how certain language influences their body image. The second half teaches readers a variety of body mindful yoga practices to integrate into life to foster an affirming and empowering relationship with their bodies. Through the path of yoga, we practice harmony within and strengthen our relationship with our body.

3. Do you need to practice yoga to use the information in Body Mindful Yoga? Or is it accessible to everyone?

Yoga experience is not required to have a successful experience with this book; we will thoroughly guide readers through every step. Body Mindful Yoga presents a combination of yoga, social/cultural discourse, and self-reflection exercises—certainly a unique format for a book on body image! And as far as yoga books go, ours is also unique, teaching a variety of yoga-inspired wisdom and practices in the context of redefining your relationship with your body. We include many yoga poses, with instructions for how to perform them, as well as several types of mental, auditory, and visual yoga practices to accommodate your learning preferences.

4. The book uses four Body Mindful steps: Listen, Learn, Love, and Live. What are these steps, and why are they important?

The guiding principles of our body mindful philosophy is the Butera Method of Personal Transformation, a four-step method that adapts yoga philosophy for modern needs. The four steps are:

  1. Listen: Know thyself.
  2. Learn: Honor what you know and invite new wisdom.
  3. Love: Practice new wisdom in your inner life.
  4. Live: Share new wisdom with others through example.
The Listen and Learn steps are devoted to self-study, which in yoga refers to contemplation and reflection. The Love and Live sections bring to life the insights readers gained in the Listen and Learn steps through yoga practices to incorporate into daily life. These four steps open readers' eyes to how words affect their body image.

5. What do you hope readers will take away from Body Mindful Yoga?

Our deepest hope is that Body Mindful Yoga will be a pathway to self-empowerment and a body-affirming life for all who strive to prove themselves through their bodies. We hope all who read this book find ease in their bodies and conviction in their words.

About Robert Butera PhD

Robert Butera, MDiv, PhD (Devon, PA), founded YogaLife Institute in Pennsylvania, where he trains yoga teachers and Comprehensive Yoga Therapists. Robert's PhD at CA Institute of Integral Studies focused on Yoga Therapy. He ...