Four years ago I weighed around 90 kgs. I had also sprained my ankle and the doctor had advised me to lose weight. I enrolled for various workouts like zumba, aerobics, running, etc.. It was all interesting at the beginning but soon it began to bore me. I wanted to try something new. And then Yoga happened… and just like that … I got hooked from day one!
Now I weigh around 73kgs and I know that for a 4ft 11 inches tall person, I am still comparatively a big-bodied yogi. The idea of comparison, however, is not mine. It is something that most of us have started believing in because that is what is visible to our eyes everyday, about what looks good and what doesn’t, what is in vogue and what isn’t. Yes, I practice yoga daily but the goal I set for myself before stepping on my mat is not weight-loss. Yoga has taught me to accept who I am at the physical and mental level. I discovered that I am big, I have great stamina, I like challenges and in my mind … I am a happy person. So here I am, not complaining about practicing Yoga for four continuous years and failing to achieve the so-called fit-body, but happy that through my yoga journey I have transformed my body and mind and have put myself in a healthy, strong and positive place.
“I finally realized that being grateful to my body was key to giving more love to myself.” – Oprah Winfrey
We Mostly Presume
We mostly presume that if someone is big size they may not be comfortable with their body, need extra motivation to exercise, wear loose outfits because of the love-handles, shy-away and so on. We also presume that if someone is thin, they eat healthy, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body and have all the confidence they need to flaunt trendy outfits. But it is not as simple as it seems. Our minds are blanketed with many such layers of assumptions and judgements and it needs a lot of practice, awareness and patience to peel these layers and discover the true-self.
“When you are in vibrational harmony, your body produces whatever it needs to remain in perfect balance.” Abraham-Hicks
Yoga is the practice that gives us this awareness and patience. So when I first enrolled for a group class, I did not face any issues getting in and out of asanas. My stamina and flexibility, both helped me easily flow in and out of postures. One week into the class and I had already become the topic of discussion. Not many had expected someone as big as me to to perform these postures correctly and with ease. To be honest, their excitement did push me a little 🙂 Who does not like a little appreciation now and then? The yoga instructor was rather impressed and referred to my determination and practice to motivate others. He had started giving me more advanced poses. I was really thrilled to explore the physicality of yoga. I was really lucky that the group as such was very supportive and appreciative about my practice.
My Happy Space
Four months later, we got a new instructor. I continued with the group classes but found that his traditional approach was restricting my yoga experience. I understand that as a teacher you have to take into consideration the entire class’s practice and design a sequence that suits everyone. But my body was all geared for the next level and considering my full-time job and limited yoga-time, I wanted to make the best of it. I decided to take a break from the group classes, and instead started searching for personal yoga trainers. However, I found that personal training was way too steep and something I simply could not afford. So I got back to running as my body wanted to exercise. Running was a good decision … I went on to participate in 10-15 km marathons. But again … I knew something was missing. I wasn’t fully satisfied and I was aware that it was only Yoga that will help me create that safe and happy space in my mind and body.
“The goal is to create space where you were once stuck. To unveil the layers of protection you’ve built around your heart. To appreciate your body and become aware of your mind and the noise it creates. To make peace with who you are. The goal is to love, well … You.” Rachel Brathen
Breaking Body Image Stereotypes
I came across a few Vinyasa sequences online. Without further ado I downloaded a few classes and started my home-practice. The experience was phenomenal! It felt like I have a tutor right there in front of me guiding me in and out of the entire sequence. This was my routine for more than two years and I simply loved it! I progressed from watching and then practicing to a stage where I just have to hear the instructions to follow the sequence. It has been a rewarding experience. Thanks to all the wonderful online tutors who willingly share this knowledge.
“Knowledge is most useful when liberated and shared.”
There are days when you want to explore backbends and there are days when you want to cultivate introspection in forward bends. A balance indeed is a must and yoga has that in place. The online classes had helped me explore various sequences with different themes as a result of which my body had begun to understand and process the physiology of every asana. Being a big-bodied person, it has taken me time to adapt to a pose which an instructor sans big belly and big busts may get into very differently. I had to learn how to maneuver around my body and get into asanas. And thus I feel that there is nothing like Yoga which can help you build this mind-body awareness.
“Let go of who you think you are supposed to be and be who you are.” Brene Brown
Now when I look back, I think it was good that I did not find a personal tutor because the initial learning had to be put into practice for it to blossom, and self-practice has helped me overcome all the fears and challenges by myself. It has taught me to trust my body and its strength. I have learned how to fall gracefully, get over that moment of disappointment and try again.
The Willingness To Unlearn
I have been practicing mostly in the open space, parks and gardens. People have started accepting me because I am making myself visible in various public spaces. They feel that if I can do it so can they. Yes, I have a few admirers now, I have learned to ignore the critics and I also take a few classes in my free time. I definitely have plans to get certified and consider taking more classes as yoga instructor. I am aware that I have to embrace unlearning in yoga and I am also aware that my daily yoga practice is preparing my mind and body for this by making me more strong, flexible, focussed and gritty.
BODY POSITIVITY YOGA with Curvy Yogi.