When we began this journey only a few short months ago, our mission and vision was clear. Bring yoga to the people. Obviously, we weren’t the first. More importantly; bring yoga to the people who never tried it/never went back/were too intimidated. Let’s face it: when you think of yoga, your mind immediately creates a certain vision. Because of society’s standards due to a media overload of what yoga “should” look like, more likely than not, that vision in your head is of someone thin, clad in a revealing sports bra & spandex outfit, contorted in some ungodly twistybendyhowisthatevenpossible yoga pose. That vision has created the mindset for so many people that yoga “just isn’t for them.”
Thanks to recent movements of body-positive influences, individuals like Jessamyn Stanley have become social icons of laying waste to the “I can’t” mentality. Because the truth is, you can. No matter your size, no matter your age, no matter your experience level – yoga CAN be for you. If you let it.
At FatGirl Yoga, we focus on three basic tenets of the functional, daily benefits that practicing yoga provides. You see it plastered on the wall of our studio and on every piece of marketing we have. Strength. Balance. Flexibility. The key here is that you don’t have to have these things to get started. We exist to help you achieve them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I have zero balance” or “I’m not very strong” or, my favorite, “I’m not flexible at all – I can’t even touch my toes!” If you can hear yourself saying one or more of these statements, ask yourself why. Why aren’t you flexible? Why is your balance so bad? Your first inclination for a response is:
- “I’m fat.”
- “I just don’t bend that way.”
- “My body doesn’t move the way it used to.”
Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Please don’t be offended. I’m not discrediting your thoughts, feelings, or statements intentionally. The point I’m trying to make is, despite all these reasons, your body can do things you never thought possible. Maybe not right away. But with patience, time, and repetition – it can happen faster than you think. At our very first class in late April, I witnessed scoffs, grunts, and laughter when I demonstrated certain poses. Because of the open and fun nature of our classes, I got a lot of, “are you out of your mind???” and “I can’t do that, you’re insane!” Fast forward to mid-July, and those students have repeatedly mastered those very moves. Not only that, but they’re excited about it. They’re proud of themselves. One of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced is when I hear a student whisper to someone new that they couldn’t do it the first time, either, but now they can. Progress. It’s all about progress. And with progress comes determination, dedication, and patience.
At the end of the day, you have to be patient with yourself. Yoga can be hard, period, no matter what size or age you are. In an effort to further myself as an instructor, I try new, weird balancing poses. And I fall down. A lot. Of course it’s frustrating. But I keep at it. I don’t tell myself that I can’t do it; I tell myself that I’m not there yet, but I can get there. Some of you might look at me and think to yourself, “yeah, but your boobs/belly/legs aren’t as big as mine, so it’s harder for me.” Perhaps. But guess what? You can still get stronger with bigger boobs. You can still improve your balance with bigger legs. And yes, you can become more flexible, even with a bigger belly. And we can help you get there. Because we truly believe that yoga is for all sizes. All ages. All levels. Your body isn’t what gets in the way – your mind is the culprit for that. Once you begin on your yoga journey, your body and your mind will start to feel better than it has in a long time.
Our advice? Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Most importantly, don’t give up on yourself.