But I Can’t Condone It.
Years ago Mike Albo put out a hysterical video titled, “Yoga for Fat People.” You can’t find that anymore, because now it’s called “Doing Yoga in Brooklyn,” because we’re still allowed to make fun of Brooklyn.
So on the one hand, I’m all for ending fat shaming. I dig the point that’s being made about reclamation of the word “fat,” a la the type of sentiment expressed in this TEDx talk. I’m just not sure that creating yoga studios specifically for the overweight is a terribly wise approach. Can you imagine the backlash a business would face for turning turned people away because their bodies weren’t small enough? Oh wait, you don’t have to imagine. Just think back to this time two years ago when Mike Jeffries was (rightly) pounded for doing just that.
If someone is earnestly following a practice, they will lose weight. It would be a shame to have to change yoga studios because of it, but it’s not the end of the world.
It’s the larger issue that’s been brought out about folks who identify as fat not feeling comfortable in a “regular” yoga studio. If you ask me, THAT’s the problem. On the simplest level, if you’re practicing at a studio where your teacher doesn’t know modifications for your body type–as this article puts forward as a reason to find a fat yoga studio–FIND ANOTHER STUDIO.
The irony is that today my plan was to post about goal setting in yoga. Let me be clear, I’m all for it. And if your goal is to lose weight or have tight abs, I’m okay with that, too. Because the genius of the practice is that it will work on you. It’s not some mystical thing like people try to make it out to be. In fact, research has backed it up. It’s simple, to contort your body you must pay deep attention to it, and the body will reward you for that. Wanting to go deeper is part of the allure. However, my main goal in ANY practice is to make it to the mat tomorrow.
I’m not a fan of the #yogaeverywhere or #stopdropandyoga hashtag craze, because actually, you shouldn’t stop and drop into a pose you’re not warmed up for. This morning I had both my legs behind my head. If I tried to do that right now I’d probably pop a hamstring. Not worth it.
So much of what we see around yoga posts are these ridiculous poses done by teeny tiny blonde practitioners. I realize I kinda fit this mold, so I don’t tend to post “here I am contorting” so much as “here I am failing and having fun so I can get back to the mat tomorrow” shots. Like this!
Here’s the main reason I’m not a fan of this idea, some of my strongest students have been big people. One of my favorite yogis on Instagram is fitqueenirene, and she is not small. I don’t want to see anyone avoid the practice because they think it’s for skinny people only. But is it really harmful to be around people who are different from you? Isn’t that some new, weird kind of phobia? One of the reasons I love going to class is that I get energy and inspiration from people in the class. You should be going to a studio that encourages every star in the room to shine.
Wouldn’t this be a dull world if we were all the same?