Let’s see… there’s yoga for elders, yoga for kids, yoga to restore, yoga to rehabilitate, yoga to invigorate, yoga for gravity-dissers, yoga for DOGs, for barking out loud! (heh) Why not yoga for Big Bods? Fat Yoga? (why is fat a bad word anyway?) By now if you haven’t heard about the NY Times article tossing a healthy-sized spotlight on new classes that cater to the chubbier lot, well then here’s your big slice of Yoga Dork commentary pie.
Here’s the scoop: there are plenty of thicker yogis, or yogi hopefuls, out there who feel a little intimidated by the mass media image of wistful skin and bones slender yogs wearing butt-enhancing spandex. Seriously, though, who isn’t intimidated by that?
So a few yoga visionaries decided to do something about it and started up specialized classes with titles like Yoga for Round Bodies (Whole Life in Seattle) and specifically suited studios like MegaYoga, and Buddha Body Yoga (both in NY).
Says Megan Garcia of MegaYoga:
“A lot of plus-size people are very embarrassed about sweating and struggling in front of people,” she said. “They try to be very well groomed and not stand out. Yoga can get very sweaty and awkward, so it’s easier to do when you’re surrounded by people who look like you. You don’t want to be the one sweaty, fat person in class.”
While some may find a problem with singling out the biggest yogis, we’re wondering why not make yoga accessible to everyone? Besides, it’s yoga! Where everyone is accepted. Kelly McGonigal, the editor in chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, disagrees….
“There’s something wrong that we’re doing as a community if people have to be shunted off to these classes designed for their size,” said Ms. McGonigal, 31, who has a Ph.D. in psychoogy and is an instructor at the Avalon Art and Yoga Center in Palo Alto, Calif.
Eh, saying it’s not cool to “segregate” (what a nasty word) is kind of like inferring yogis of the cushi-er form is something to be ashamed of. Nowadays there’s specialized yoga for literally everyone else! (as noted) Do we have to descend into a no child left behind discussion? Seriously. But, we see her point, does the separation create further alienation?
Happily, we can personally report the appearance of many more rotund yogsters in class lately. Not sure why, could be the teacher, could be the overall mass acceptance of yoga these days, but there is a surge in the less fantasy-sized Barbie heinies swaying in down dog. It is lovely.
Truth is, there’s yoga for weight loss, sure, but there’s also yoga for LIFE. What it boils down to is who cares what size yoga pants you wear?
Striking a Pose for Girth [NYTimes]
Further Reading: elephant journal has an informative post on Heavyweight Yoga: DVD – proving yoga is for everyone, even the “volumptuous” Additional perspectives from virtual yoga dorks: Yoga For Bigger Bodies [Yogoer], and the jiggly one’s Yoga for the Bigger-Bodied [Jiggaroo] Also, remember plus-sized Yoga on The Biggest Loser way back when?
And a Poll for Your Pleasure