“I’m too fat for yoga,” I thought to myself.
Looking wistfully out my car window at the lithe women scurrying between the rain drops toward a popular yoga studio in a hip neighborhood in Saint Paul, MN, I decided I was too fat to go back to yoga.
The stoplight turned green and I drove off to the sound of my windshield wipers.
I’d done yoga before and loved how I felt afterwards, but I was always the fattest person in class and my body didn’t do the poses like the thinner, more flexible students around me. My body was different. My body got in the way.
Some teachers ignored me entirely. Others had no idea how to help me, so they would barely make eye contact, embarrassed. There were no props and even if there had been, I wouldn’t have known what to do with them.
That was it, I decided. I was just too fat to do yoga. Dejected, I decided to give up the only form of exercise that felt good in my body, that brought me joy, that offered me blissful moments of peace that comes from a quiet mind.
I walked away from my yoga practice but my mat never stopped calling my name.
BEING TOO FAT FOR YOGA IS A LIE
Do you think your body is too fat for yoga? Too big, too old, too stiff?
Lies. All lies.
Lies that the beauty industry, fitness culture, and the Big Yoga corporate machine have told you. Lies you’ve told yourself because you didn’t know any better, because when people repeatedly tell you something isn’t for you, sooner or later you start to believe it.
I abandoned my yoga practice for years because I believed the message I saw everywhere: yoga is for thin, able-bodied, straight, white women in expensive Lycra pants.
It’s not true.
YOGA IS FOR EVERYONE
If you’re breathing, yoga was made for you. Yoga is for fat people and thin people. Young people and old people. It’s for disabled people and the able-bodied. Tight muscles or super flexible? You can do yoga. Yoga is for everyone.
Ask my teachers, Dianne Bondy and Amber Karnes. Ask Matthew Sanford, Jacoby Ballard, and Ellen in the teacher training class ahead of me–she’s 81 and has plans to teach in her community.
If you feel called to the mat, yoga is for you. No matter who you are, what you look like, or what society tells you, yoga is for you. I hope you’ll heed the call and let yourself experience the peace of mind that yoga offers.