Yoga is for EveryBODY, yes? You've heard this before? Yes. But do you believe it?
I myself have fallen victim to my own thoughts and judgments when it comes to belonging and yoga. I knew I wanted to teach yoga when I was 12 but I had planted a seed in little young lady Kate's head that she was too fat to be a yoga teacher, yep, I told myself that FOR YEARS!! I'm now just shy of 32 years of age so for almost 20 years I told myself that story. 'You're too fat, you're not flexible enough, you can't do a handstand, you've got too many injuries, you're not tall enough, nobody wants a fat yoga teacher'. All stories I've told myself, not one other person has ever said any of these things to my face, have I assumed they've thought them, YES! Have they actually thought them? Well, now THAT is none of MY business.
So what is MY BUSINESS? It is my business to make sure that every single student that walks though my door into my classes feels safe, welcome and wanted. The only way I could do that is to get to work on myself, to treat myself like I wanted my students to be treated. So I fed my mind with mindfulness, meditation and positive affirmations, I fed my body with whole foods that nourish me and practiced yoga not because I had to but because I deserved to, because I promised myself that I mattered. I truly believe that because of this, because of my previous body issues, injuries and low confidence issues I have built a community that attracts those people, the people who need to know that it's ok to take a break when you need it, it's ok if you think you're overweight, it's ok if you've got chronic health problems, injuries, are pregnant or whatever it is that you think is holding you back from practicing yoga (the practice of being your best self).
I saw a post on Instagram this morning that got my blood boiling, the post in itself was fantastic but the reason it needed to be posted really set me into rage for everyone suffering out there. It was a post about Nike's new range of plus sized active wear and the negative comments made by a person in the media. Harmful comments by this woman such as "obese mannequins are selling women a dangerous lie", "she heaves with fat...She is more likely diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement". Well excuse me, SO WHAT? So what if she's diabetic, does that mean she can't buy active wear and work out? So what if she heaves with fat, does that mean she can't buy active wear and workout? So what if she's on her way to a hip replacement, does that mean she can't buy active wear
and workout? These mannequins with their realistic rolls might be inspiring to someone who's been wanting to buy active wear but is embarrassed to, or to someone who just wants to be able to have the confidence to workout in a crop and leggings without layering themselves into a hot inconvenient fluster. This could inspire someone to start working out who has been so harmed by comments and social norms that they think they're not welcome or don't belong in the fitness industry. How could this woman not see this as a good thing? Doesn't having more opportunities for health and growth allow everyBODY to become healthier? Could you imagine if there was no plus size active wear? How would that impact on the health of those who wear plus size? They'd either be uncomfortable as fuck in some inappropriate work out attire or they just wouldn't work out.
I could go on and on and on about this topic as it's been 20 years in the making but I wont. What I will say is this, you don't need to be anything to start yoga! And that's what I love about it, you can be young, old, fat, skinny, injured, inflexible, unfit, unbalanced, whatever! Yoga doesn't judge you so stop judging yourself! I was having this discussion with one of my students last night and it comes up all the time. We all have our own internal battles but once we move past that and see that we're all the same, we just want to belong and be accepting of ourselves and others that's where the real work and the real yoga begins! So if you got to the end of this, give yourself a pat on the back and pay yourself a compliment, a real one, one of the hard to say ones, and SCREAM IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!