Controversial

Yoga for really large bodies – “just move your butt flesh out of the way”!

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but hardly anyone ever showed up for yoga to lose weight. Ironically, to be accepted in the yoga room (or at least to feel that way), you had to be slim already. Maybe not flexible, but slim. Apparently, being stiff is forgiveable. But being well-proportioned is not. The pinnacle of this is super fit instructors telling a class of equally skinny students to “move their fat away from the sit bones” in seated postures. Sorry, what?

Annie Carlin, Yoga Teacher

For a while I had this crazy notion that yoga was working with the mind, through the body. Gosh, I was wrong. The crazier the posture, the more your mind will say: Oh wow, I’m really impressed now. However, Annie Carlin seems to buck the trend. She started teaching yoga to overweight people. And no, it’s not like our fashion industry where clothes are being advertised to “oversized” women (apparently) with models who are still not much bigger than a size 12 (if you’re reading this in Europe).

No, this is different. Annie went all in. She says that she cannot bend forward – not because she’s not flexible. But because her thighs are too big. It’s physically impossible for her to deeply bend forward and keep her feet together. (Now you tell that to your yoga instructor who doesn’t even know what having flesh around your thighs feels like.)

Really, chapeaux to Annie. But honestly, isn’t the main thing you notice her all-encompassing smile? This woman LOVES yoga. Congratulations for standing up against a dangerous trend of yoga becoming a domain of the fit, young and healthy wearing lots of spandex.

If you’d like to read more, here’s the full story of Annie, who is looking more zen upside down than most people I have seen in headstand.

Cheers to Annie!

~ Andrea

P.S. And no, you’re not weaker – you’ve just got more to lift! ;)

Yoga is fun – for everyone!
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Categories: Controversial, Inspiration, Yoga

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12 replies »

  1. I love this post! January 2012 I weighed 325. For most of the year I couldn’t exercise due to injuries. My doctor recommended yoga. I loved it. Before I took a class, I had no balance or flexibility. Don’t get me started on pulled muscles! I now weight 247 and yoga’s become a staple of my weight loss journey. However, I will say that the industry does have a way to go to make us fatties feel welcomed. I did get a bit of a “why are you here” vibe from class. I’m now doing yoga at home via DVD. But a yoga studio opened less than 1/2 a mile from my house and I’m thinking of giving an actual class another shot.

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    • Hi and thanks for reading! If you feel like trying out some more group classes, I found that the type of people you meet in class partly depends on the style of yoga. By default Astanga is very dynamic and people tend to be quite sporty, but if you go for let’s say Sivananda, Iyengar or Kundalini there’s a totally different vibe. Just try a few styles, I’m sure there’s a class you love!

      All the best,

      Andrea

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  2. I’ve never had a class with Annie, but I’m sure I’d love her! This post totally resonates with me what I feel from time to time. I’m not exactly the most fit person, but I came to yoga for it’s meditative nature. I personally feel so lucky that my first yoga experience was at a studio where the instructors are very nurturing, open, polite, and mindful of every student’s physical history (injuries, weight, limits, etc.) and help makes adjustment to the poses. If they hadn’t been, I probably would been completely dropped Yoga (thank goodness I didn’t)!

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  3. Thanks so much, sometimes it feels so much like a single journey being overweight in a yoga class. Ive created my blog solely because of this! Now Im off to read allllll about Annie!

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  4. One of the things I love about yoga is that it’s non-judgmental in the classroom. I’m not overweight but had that little midlife jelly roll around the middle. Doing Paschimottanasana frustrated me because it made me more aware of it. Just two days ago, a classmate surprised me when she asked if I’d lost weight. I haven’t been trying, but apparently the consistent practice is whittling away at that little roll.

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  5. It isn’t much different here in the US. I have gotten awkward looks walking into Lululemon or Lucy where nothing is sold above size 10. To borrow a euphemism, “Church is for sinners, not for saints.” The very people who NEED to be in these classes are the one that are virtually ignored because it’s not considered fashionable or sexy to be plus-sized. Case in point, the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch recently made a very controversial remark about why his company doesn’t market to larger women. Something about us not being “cool.” Frankly, I would have expected better from a practice which is supposed to nurture from the inside out. Maybe there is a lesson there about letting go of my own expectations and judgements. How very yoga.

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    • I have so much respect for women who go to these classes anyway. Their mental strength is adorable. There’s a very powerful mantra: I am not this body. We should all repeat this more often.
      Whenever I see large women doing sport I think that what they are doing is great. They have overcome their reluctance and decided to do something for their health. How many others, large or thin, eat junk food in front of the tv?
      Thanks for reading and your comment!

      Andrea

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