Published Aug 28, 10 AM
By Dacia Cress
I am a student and teacher of yoga, so I’ve been in a lot of yoga classes, workshops and trainings over the years. Just about every single time, with only a few exceptions, I’ve been one of the biggest girls in the room. I notice, and I know that other people notice.
But I play it off like my shit don’t stink and I plop my mat down and set up for class like everyone else.
Why? Because I know I belong.
If everyone in that room subscribes to the warm and fuzzy yoga mentality of non-judgment like I do, they don’t care what size I am. The thought that I’m a larger person might not even consciously register with them. And I appreciate that so much. Thank you, non-judgmental yogis, whoever you are.
When I come to a yoga class as a student, my spirit hums with excitement. This is MY yoga practice. I am in commune with other yogis, and that is just an effing great feeling. I know everyone should be there for the same reason: that special way yoga makes them feel. That feeling of being lighter and uplifted in mind, body and spirit is heady stuff.
I’ve always carried extra weight, and diet and exercise only work to a point for me. But I also love food, so I’m not depriving myself either. Approach me with a big, gooey brownie and I’m putty in your hands. So if some yogis do judge me for my size (it’s pretty obvious who you are from the scrutinizing look you give me when I walk into class), I don’t give a damn. Not anymore. It took me a long time to get to the point where I didn’t cringe and crumble from the look.
People who come to their yoga practice judging others also judge and compare themselves to others.
At times in my early yoga journey, I was made to feel extremely self-conscious and unworthy. I compared myself to the show-off yogi. You know the type — the one who sets up right next to you and begins her pre-class warm-up in a beautiful, perfect eka pada rajakapotasana with her back leg bound. Meanwhile, I’m over there doing something low-key on my back to warm up. It could be knees to chest; it could be picking bits of breakfast from my teeth.
I’ve had skinny teachers not understand my larger anatomy and try to compress me into uncomfortable poses where I couldn’t breathe, not realizing that I have to cooperate with and move around my curves and boobs. Size C, sometimes D, thank you very much.
Now, as a teacher — and this is not extremely yoga-ish of me I know — I sometimes see the look from some new skinny fart in class, and then I push the class through the most vigorous, punishing vinyasa class I can come up with, just to prove to her (and myself) that she has the wrong idea about me, and about other large people.
I see that hairy eyeball of doubt she gives me that says: “Whoa! This woman is the instructor? I must be in the wrong class. I want Power Yoga, not gentle stretch.” I see her in her $80+ fancy yoga pants whose waist might fit around one of my thighs, and I hoist up my $15 Wal-mart yoga pants and delight in her sweat. I revel in her look of surprise when I can do things she can’t. I hee-haw inwardly when that skinny fart is exhausted, muscles trembling, at the end of my class. I also feel good in knowing that I delivered an awesome class to all my yogis.
But mostly, as I conclude every one of my classes with, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be joyful. Namaste,” I mean it. I really do. And in that moment, we are fellow yogis, souls on the path of wellbeing and enlightenment. And we are one.
I am getting to be extremely adept at not letting sideways glances and the look splinter me into self-loathing. And for all the larger women and men out there, don’t let your size hold you back. Yoga was very embracing to me and it has so much to offer every one of all sizes. Please know, and prove to yourself, that yoga is not just for the skinny farts of the world!
About Dacia Cress
Just shy of 40 but no longer painfully shy, Dacia lives quite happily and curvaceously in the Piedmont area of NC. She enjoys yoga (you betcha!), hiking, kayaking, crocheting and writing. She is also the blissful mom of her sweet daughter, who she home schools. And yes, yoga counts as P.E.