And then there was Fat Yoga. It’s the name and the cause of a new studio in Portland, OR. (And Stumptown seriously only gets number 8 on the Top 10 Us Yoga Cities? pssht.)
Yep, the studio is called Fat Yoga, and owner Anna Ipox is not shy about it. “I say I’m fat cause, guess what, I know I’m fat,” she told KPTV Fox 12. Ipox, who is not advocating that people not lose weight, says her studio is not a gimmick but more of a social statement. She’s on a mission to reclaim the word ‘fat’ and bring it back from shametown. On the studio’s website they call this Fat Remixed.
“There’s a responsibility as a fit woman of size to be visible and challenge those stereotypes,” she said.
“You just have to do a little Google searching to see all the fat hate. Fat girls shouldn’t wear stretch pants, they shouldn’t wear white, they shouldn’t wear yoga pants and you’re not allowed to let your fat jiggle,” she said. “I just realized I’m gonna make the place I want to go.”
Also, the studio, which opened in January, is there to help overweight people feel welcome in a practice that’s more suitable for rounder bodies because yoga teachers may not know how to suggest modifications.
“Child’s pose is impossible of you have belly fat or thick thighs,” [Ipox] said. “They just have no idea what it is to have a big body. I remember teachers pushing on my hips to make it happen. It’s not a flexibility thing and I couldn’t articulate any of that.”
Marianne Luther, one the first students who signed up for class at Fat Yoga said she’d rather not go than have a bad time.
“I definitely had issues. Instead of going to class and having a bad experience, I just stayed away from it,” said Luther.
We seem to have reached a tipping point in the Western yoga world where most of us are tired of the young, skinny, flexy stereotypes. Even yoga clothing retailers are realizing there are yogis of all shapes and sizes, and they’re eager to make a pretty penny of off it. But on the flip side of commoditization is self-empowerment, self-love and self-confidence which is sometimes denied when plus-sized or curvy yogis have a bad experience or feel out of place at a regular yoga studio.
Yoga isn’t about exclusion at all. (Everyone is welcome at Fat Yoga, btw.) But it’s hard to understand any discrimination (intentional or not) if you’re not part of a group discriminated against whether it be for race, gender, sexual orientation, body shape or anything else.
Maybe a slight stretch in comparison (or a big one), but let’s consider another part of society: gay people. Stay with us here. Just think if there were no gays bars, no LGBTQ organizations or social groups. Would we have gay marriage legal in 12 states? Maybe. Would we have Modern Family?? We don’t know! No doubt, there is still a horrific lack of tolerance and demonstrations of hate, but the gay community, together, has a voice and sense of unity. Or at least a really freaking fantastic fun time having cocktails. It’s a start.
Though some may argue that a studio called Fat Yoga is more exclusive than an all-types open yoga space, perhaps we can view this as a necessary step towards the everybodyyogatogetheronelove. Everyone deserves to feel at home in their bodies. Peace fingers.