I was on a big weight loss project, and heard that yoga was a good way to exercise on rest days. Haha.
2. When did you start practicing yoga and how long have you been practicing.
I started practicing in 2004. After I heard people at the gym talking about the benefits of yoga, I decided to go to a yoga studio in town. I was terrified. I suspected that fat people didn’t do yoga – and still to this day, I am usually the only fat person in a class. However, my courage in showing up paid off. From the first time I stepped onto the mat, it began to transform my relationship with my body. I slowly began to notice how when I was in class, I wouldn’t have the constant buzz of anxiety, to-do’s, whirring thoughts about what I’d said to that person, or why so-and-so was mad at me. I wouldn’t even realize it until after class sometimes, when the thoughts came swarming back in, that for the past hour, I had been free. I had inhabited my body, challenged it, and gotten to know it a little bit. I had gotten out of my head. I learned what being present and going inside felt like.
3. What’s your favorite pose or type yoga to practice
My favorite poses are trikonasana, parsvakonasana, warrior 2, warrior 3 – many of the standing poses. I love feeling strong, stable, grounded, and powerful!
4. When and why did you start teaching?
I decided to go through yoga teacher training only intending to deepen my own practice. However, I discovered my passion for sharing the gift of yoga with other “misfits” who think they don’t belong in a yoga studio. I teach yoga to other large bodied people, those with creaky joints, beginners, and people who don’t consider themselves “yogis”. I am loving the ongoing challenge of learning how to help others make peace with their bodies, and make asana work for them. I love to share my yoga through local yoga studios when I can, but am more passionate about teaching accessible classes to low-income folks, or at public libraries, community centers, parks, prisons, at “non yoga” places.
5. Who or what influences your teaching ?
My students do! They are constantly teaching me about the human body, about emotions and vulnerability. About trust and joy and safety. They are my greatest teachers!
5. What is your favorite pose to teach and why?
I love teaching breathing techniques, in whatever pose. Mindfulness and breathing are so powerful in many ways – from the mental benefits to repercussions around the body like improved posture and reduced pain.
6. What do you hope to teach your students from this practice?
How to get out of their heads, inhabit their bodies, and see their bodies as allies in this amazing life we are all going through.
7. Please share your personal story of transformation… A story, aha moments, a personal breakthrough
Yoga for me has been largely about authenticity. Part of my challenge of being authentic is letting go of “supposed to’s”, asking “why”, and then working through the yogic system to figure out, “is what I’m doing aligning with the best, most authentic version of myself?” Is this ______ (job, food, decision, conversation) bringing me closer to who I really am?
As I cultivate authenticity, I align with the best version of myself. This makes me a better wife, daughter, sister, and friend. It makes me more effective in the work that I do, and it gives my work meaning. I am more open and vulnerable, and I can relate from my heart to others instead of having shallow, surface relationships. I can recognize my purpose and put it out into the world.
The self-acceptance journey that I started with yoga has brought me self care, respect, awareness, living in my body, moving it in ways I enjoy, feeding it nutritious food, letting it play and sleep, honoring its limits, bowing to it each time I come to the mat. This picture of me is a far cry from former iterations of myself: punishing, neglecting, stuffing, purging, starving, hating, hiding, and feeling shame about my body. Instead of letting my body remain my enemy, I have used it as an ally in my ongoing transformational journey to realize – and believe – that I am enough, just as I am.