Author: Melinda Parrish
Brittany Danielle started doing yoga three years ago. She had just had her second child, she was overweight, and her marriage was in distress.
“I knew there was a lifestyle change needed,” she said. “Yoga became my grounding factor, and over the last three years, it’s gotten me through tough things in my life. It’s made me a much stronger woman and mother,” says Brittany.
Today, Brittany is a regular yoga practitioner, a yoga instructor, a plus-size activist, and a social media yogi superstar. Her Instagram, @crazycurvy_yoga, is full of images of her practicing yoga in her sports bra and short, form-fitting attire that previously, many curvy-bodied women might have shied away from.
Brittany wasn’t always so comfortable with baring her body in yoga class, or even sharing her practice with others. For two years, this self-taught yogi practiced only at home until deciding to pursue her dream of becoming a yoga teacher. Once she began her teacher training, she had to venture to the studio on a regular basis.
“At first, I felt like I didn’t fit in or that I didn’t belong among a group of advanced yogis — I’m not a typical model of what a yoga girl should look like. I was intimidated to go to class, and like most women, I didn’t want to be the biggest girl there. I couldn’t yet accept myself in a setting where I knew I’d be uncomfortable,” she says.
“I live in a small town. I’ve broken down walls and opened the minds of others in my community by practicing the way I do at home — in my leggings and a sports bra. I’m comfortable with showing my body, but I was worried — and I still worry — that others won’t be as accepting.” But Brittany refuses to accept the limitations that others tried to impose on her, her body, and her yoga wardrobe.
“I tell women there are no limitations — in our jobs, relationships, anything. Not just yoga — in life. Your body is your body,” she says.
So what keeps Brittany coming back to her mat, again and again, and in such an unapologetic way?
“Yoga is a way to connect with ourselves. Before we're able to love ourselves and be happy, we have to learn to appreciate our bodies and what they do for us. The journey to loving yourself never stops, and yoga is a part of that journey for me,” says Brittany.
We asked Brittany about a time when she really noticed the change in herself, as a result of her yoga practice.
“I had on a sports bra, yoga pants, and a jacket in the grocery store,” says Brittany. “ This woman came up behind me and said, ‘Why not put on a shirt?’”
“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” Brittany asked.
“Nothing’s wrong with it,” the woman said. “I just don’t know how you feel comfortable walking in public like that.”
“I couldn’t have done this three years ago,” Brittany told her. Brittany says that she and the woman went on to have a very vulnerable, emotional exchange about body confidence in the aisle of the supermarket. Brittany shared with her how much of a journey it’s been to get to where she is with her body.
During the course of this exchange, the woman said, “I wish I could be more like you.”
“I hear that comment a lot,” Brittany says. “‘I wish I could be like you and have your confidence,’ things like that. I want to say to women, ‘It devalues you to think this way.’ I know what it’s like to be in that dark place, and it makes me want to bring in this light I’ve discovered inside myself, and turn it back to them.”
“I would say to any woman, ‘Don’t sell yourself short. You’re beautiful and unique in your own way.’”
We couldn’t agree more, Brittany. To see more of Brittany’s courageous body love, visit her page @crazycurvy_yoga. And be sure to share your yoga activity with us, wearing what makes you most comfortable and confident. Tag @gaiam and @ybicoalition and use #everybodybends and #whatayogilookslike to be featured!