by: Melinda Parrish
Photographer: Elina Khachataryan
Hair: Christina Poindexter
Yoga isn’t an activity that’s reserved for women who look a certain way, or drink only coconut water, or who wear perfectly coordinated yoga outfits. Yoga is for EVERY body.
I still remember the first time I went to a yoga class. It was after my second back surgery, and I was in the process of reframing my relationship with my body. I had been doing Rodney Yee’s “Yoga for Back Care” workout at home, trying to brush up on my skills and get comfortable with the movements.
I was scared to be the only one in the yoga studio who didn't know what I was doing. I was afraid that I didn't have the right clothes, or experience, or body type for yoga.
When I finally got up the courage to go, I was pleasantly surprised! It turns out, most of the other people in the room were there to dabble in yoga as another form of exercise, like me, and not hardcore yogis. My appearance wasn't an issue—they weren't busy judging my outfit or my size, they were there to focus on their own practice and show their bodies love through movement, too.
But even if my fears were realized, and they had booed me out of the room, the worst thing would have been to let my fear of being judged for being a plus size woman at a yoga class stop me from exploring a new form of exercise. Since that first class, yoga has become an important part of my self-care routine, along with lots of other fun, group fitness classes and different approaches to exercise that I participate in.
As a 210-lb, size-14/16 woman at 5'10.5", sometimes I'm the biggest girl (or person!) in the room. Sometimes I'm not. But either way, I no longer let my fear of being judged for my size prevent me from finding ways to show my body love through movement.
Size isn’t the only reason we might shy away from taking up yoga. Many women feel this way when they’re new to exercise, or have experienced changes in their body like childbirth or menopause, or have moved to a new city. Career setbacks, divorce, the loss of a loved one, or fear of the unknown can also become barriers in our thinking about new activities like yoga.
If you’re having a hard time getting started, lighten it up by doing it with a friend or loved one—even your kids! Check out Gaiam’s collection of kid-friendly yoga products to get all the gear you need for you and your family to begin a shared practice.
Your body is perfect, just as it is. You deserve to show your body love through movement with activities like yoga regardless of your size. So don’t let yourself get stuck in a rut because you believe that yoga “isn’t for you.” Yoga is for EVERY body!