I’ve heard this excuse before as to why people (mostly women) are scared to try yoga. They see these stick thin models wearing expensive yoga pants in the media and think that is the standard. I don’t blame them. If that’s all yoga is portrayed as, why would anyone want to subject themselves to being the only non-size 2?
In this post, I’m sharing some less-than-flattering photos of myself. I like to think of them as “before” photos. Before what? I don’t know. I’m on a lifelong journey to find out. But I know seeing real bodies – lumps, bumps and all – will help to shake the stigma that yoga is only for the thin.
To preface, I’m not going to pretend like I’ve struggled with a weight problem since childhood. I know many people out there have and still do, so I will not insult anyone by calling myself “fat” over and over when I’m not obese.
However, I do struggle with weight now as an adult. It started from the moment I graduated college and landed my first full-time office job. Like I said the other day, the office environment might as well be a bakery and candy store because there are so many sweets and treats floating through any day of the week. I hate that I lack self control. I both love AND hate when fresh cookies from Tiff’s Treats arrives.
What it’s led to is extra flesh. On my hips. On my butt. On my belly. On my arms. Ugh. Every woman’s trouble spots, am I right? But I gotta tell you. When I was at my largest size (meaning when I wasn’t pregnant), I still felt absolutely capable and strong on my mat. I probably had more stamina then due to a regular practice than I do now with my irregular practice.
Sure, some of the back fat gets squished when I do twists. And my arm fat gets stuck sometimes when I go into chaturanga. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. I was on my mat doing yoga. I was in class, working up a sweat with other sweaty yogis with their own trouble spots. And I always felt better when I got done.
Yoga can certainly shape your body, especially coupled with diet. But the lesson to be learned here is that yoga can be done by people of any shape and size (and is highly encouraged!). It’s certainly not for just the thin, and everyone can benefit from it.
As for the idea that others are judging you… That’s a non-issue. People are focusing on their own practice, their own breath and their own movements. And hey, if anyone is shallow enough to be judging you, then show them what you’ve got – strength, flexibility and/or willingness to take better care of yourself.