My curvy sisters and brothers are coming to yoga for what you more than likely came for as well: mindfulness and body awareness.
Imagine sitting at the front of your yoga studio, getting ready to teach a class. You pinch the extra skin on your flat and toned belly through your cute Lululemon “Practice Freely Tank.” You’re talking about how “fat” you are to a student/friend/colleague and how the extra weight just won’t go away no matter how much you run, jump and do yoga.
Seconds later, a fat girl walks in, rolls out her mat and gives you a smile.
A) Panic, and assume it is her first class.
B) Avoid eye contact and ignore her existence, making sure to skip over her in any adjustments.
C) Treat her with respect and consideration.
D) Tell her how yoga and a specific diet are great for weight loss.
I have heard or witnessed all of the aforementioned scenarios. Hopefully you chose C…
The other day I was having a conversation with a dear friend and yoga teacher. Curious about my Curvy Yoga class she asked me, “So are your students coming to you for weight loss?” When I told her no, she was surprised.
To me weight loss and yoga have never been synonymous.
When I first started doing yoga almost a decade ago, I did so in order to turn off the mental mice. And of course, as anyone with hardcore mental mice does, I started with Bikram Yoga.
I didn’t even realize the size difference or lack thereof in the class. All I saw was rippling muscles and clothing that was a bit too small, revealing nether bits. I was there to sweat and burn my inner demonic mice away.
When I had calmed down, I turned to other forms of yoga, meditation and hypnotherapy. If it hadn’t been for that hot and sweaty room, the seeds of the inner revolution would have never been planted.
My passions for my personal practice led me to practically proselytizing about yoga. But friends and acquaintances pointed out the rift and discomfort they experienced in some classes.
I realized that there’s a large size chasm of which I wasn’t even aware until I started my 200-hr teacher training last year. And still I did not fully conceptualize it until I started teaching Curvy Yoga.
There, I heard complaints of feeling invisible, as well as the opposite—where students felt singled out, sometimes to the point of feeling publicly shamed.
If you teach a class called “Yoga for Weight Loss” then this article may not apply to you. But feel free to keep reading.
Whether a person considers himself or herself curvy, fat or full-bodied doesn’t matter. My curvy sisters and brothers are coming to yoga for what you more than likely came for as well: mindfulness and body awareness.
What drew you to yoga? Did it work for you? If so, sharing the gift of breath, movement and mindfulness brings much joy.
You’ve done hundreds to thousands of hours of trainings. You’ve learned the philosophy, the eight limbs, the physical, the spiritual, the anatomy. You have a strong foundation, but I will bet you dollars to donuts (and I hate donuts) that in all of this personal evolution and education, you did not become a mind reader, nor can you psychically channel a person’s past.
Unless you consider yourself psychic, don’t assume someone is coming to your class for weight loss.
In your profession as a yoga teacher:
>> You wouldn’t expect to make an elderly person young (though yoga could help improve mobility and stamina).
>> You wouldn’t expect to make an underweight person gain weight.
>> You wouldn’t expect to make a tall person shorter (however with the help of unsafe headstands and shoulderstands you could probably achieve it).
>> You wouldn’t expect to make a short person taller (though their posture will get better and they may look taller).
So don’t expect to make a curvy, fat or full-bodied person thin. Let them experience the pleasure of movement and breath, the realization and growth that occurs from the mat.
Let the changes be organic and intuitive to their body.
What may appear to be an unhealthy body to you may be a body in mint condition with excellent interiors and health.
People who are fat are aware that they are not thin. Those who are morbidly obese are aware because doctors, family members and complete strangers on the street make them aware. We won’t even get into the inner chatter.
I leave you with these thoughts as you teach:
>> Don’t be a jerky-shmo
>> Be open to grace
>> Practice decorum
>> Create a safe space for transformation
Then watch as your students blossom into their potential … in whatever shape that takes.
Thea Pueschel is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Sports Mind Coach and Certified Curvy Yoga Teacher. Yoga was her gateway into the world of balance and stillness. When she isn’t lulling people with her gentle maternal patter through personalized metaphor or teaching Curvy Yoga, she engages in multimedia arts and writing. To find more about Thea visit her hypnotherapy website www.hypnotiqsolutions.net or living arts website www.hazelbluestudios.com. Connect with her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/hazelbluestudios and Twitter https://twitter.com/HypSolutions.
Assistant Ed: Stephanie V.
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