Jessica Biel is a Hollywood golden girl. Married to Justin Timberlake, with a burgeoning career as an actress and producer, stunningly beautiful, an enviably toned body and intensely down-to-earth, she’s like a Head Girl that everyone actually likes.
True to the Head Girl theme, as a girl, Biel was very sporty, playing football and training as a gymnast. This disciplined approach to physical fitness has held her in good stead as she tackled her more challenging roles for the big and small screen – she’s recently starred in the successful crime drama series The Sinner.
However, at the ripe old age of 36, Biel feels that she needs to give her body a break from the aggressive pounding of competitive sport. “I spent so many years of my young life playing soccer and jamming my knees, running and sprinting, and so many years as a gymnast gashing my body … I realized, as I got older, I can’t keep this up,” she says.
Over the last 10 years, Biel has practiced yoga, until it has become one of the things that she does for herself that she can no longer do without.
What changed for Jessica is what changes for most of us, she got older, and her priorities changed. She got married and had a son, three-year-old Silas Randall, who now keeps her running around. Becoming a mother changed her attitude to her body. “Having my mind focused on exactly how I need to look and that perfect bikini body—that’s changed,” she says. “I just want to be healthy. I want my joints and my ligaments and my body to feel good and free of pain, so I can have fun with my family.”
As well as the pressures of family life, she also has the ups and downs of the showbusiness industry to contend with, and she finds that having yoga as a fixed point in her day helps her to deal with that too. “It’s something that I refuse to let go of in my life. I really try and manage and maintain.”
As a natural sportswoman, yoga isn’t the obvious choice. But it’s precisely the lack of competitive elements that has made yoga such an important part of her routine. “I like that yoga is just me with myself, my practice, and wherever my practice is in that moment on that day, then that’s where it is,” she says. “No one’s yelling at me to push harder and go tougher, it’s all about me, and sometimes if I want to sit still and lie in Savasana for 20 minutes, then that’s my practice for the day.”
She also finds that the breathwork helps her to connect her mind to her body in a way that she doesn’t do on a day-to-day basis. This mind-body connection allows her some real quality me-time, amongst the hecticness of her busy life. “Yoga is about having something that’s just for me—the benefits outnumber so many other ways to relieve stress or take time for yourself.”
Looking at the woman, you’d think that Jessica Biel wouldn’t have much trouble accepting herself. I mean, what’s not to like?! But – and as a woman myself I feel I can say this – all women are masters at self-criticism. What looks like perfection to anyone else is probably full of flaws to her own critical eyes. Biel herself admits: “I think it takes a lot of years to really start to accept who you are,” she says. “I believe that the philosophy behind yoga and the yoga community is not about what shape you are; it’s not about what you look like; it’s really about health from the inside out. Yoga has brought me a lot of feelings of power and confidence.”