Twice now I have had the honour of being a part of the Chat, Chew and YOU sharing body positive yoga. While preparing for the last show, I took some time to think about what it’s been like practicing yoga in a bigger body and what I maybe wish I had known back when I started, what I wish I had access to when I started, and what my yoga practice has done for my relationship with my bigger body. I want to share those thoughts with you today.
First of all, everyone has access to the benefits of yoga, any body any size and any ability. If you can consciously observe your breath you can do yoga. See Yoga is Not Just Asana.
However, I totally get the intimidation around starting yoga or any movement practice in a bigger body. When I started going to yoga classes, I was always the biggest body in the room. And even today as a teacher, I am often the biggest body in the room. Most yoga classes out there focus on asana and moving your body can make you more aware of it. Which can be a big trigger when you loathe your body and can bring on increased feelings of body shame.
This is why finding the right teacher is so important. You want a teacher who doesn’t use body shaming language in the class, like “to burn more calories do this” or “if you are trying to lose weight try this”, or even calling a certain expression of a pose “the full expression of the pose”. The benefits of an asana practice can be experienced and felt in any variation and any body.
It’s also important that your teacher be well versed in the many variations and modifications of poses. If they are a bigger bodied person they are more likely to have found modifications that will work for bigger bodies, but it is really on the yoga instructor (of any size) to learn modifications and offer them to their students. It is on the teacher to meet their students where they are. On the other hand, I also highly encourage you to modify during class for what works for you, even if the teacher doesn’t offer it. You know your body best and you know what works best for your body.
When you find the right teacher and the right space to begin a yoga practice, how can yoga help you make peace with your body?
- Find pleasure in moving your body in the moment and not some future benefit
- Find peace through connection to breath
- Learn to be in the present moment because the present is where our power lies
- Learn to observe your thoughts, question them or accept them, and not to attach too much value to those thoughts, especially if they are self-harming thoughts
- Stimulate your body’s relaxation response for increased energy and a sense of peace
And eventually this will hopefully lead to:
- Creating a space to appreciate your body for everything it can do and everything it does for you
- Noticing where your body is strong and capable and focusing on that
- Seeing your body as an ally, not an enemy you have to be at war with
- Seeing your worth as more than a number on a scale
- Redefining health – My definition of health includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. You can be healthy at any size. There’s even an organization dedicated to this topic called “Health at Every Size”. Check it out. 🙂
If you would like to continue, or even start, your yoga journey, I have an online meditation program called Daily Luscious ReTreats that would be a great place to start or to deepen your yoga practice. The 21-day program talks you through the meditation process from learning how to meditate to themes of gratitude and unconditional love. Sometimes as we rush around trying to be everything, we forget to JUST BE! Breathe and just be. Daily Luscious ReTreats is here to give you that time to just be!
For more info on the program click here and scroll to the bottom of the page. I will be revamping my online programs soon so this meditation program will only be available until August 31, 2015.
I’d love to hear about your yoga journey and any questions you might have. Write me any time.