This is What a ‘Real’ Yoga Body Looks Like. Self-Acceptance for Spiritual Growth

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How one yoga teacher’s journey to accept her body, and change the perception of the yoga body in the yoga studio, transformed her as a human being.  This is her story about self-acceptance.

“Excuse me ma’am, I really enjoyed your yoga class tonight. But I wanted to come by and tell you that as a yoga teacher, you need to lose weight. Namaste.”

Wow, well this was an unexpected turn of events from the yoga class I taught tonight.

How many times has this all happened to us though? When someone (a stranger usually) comes up to us and imposes their idea of what we should do, be, look or behave like to fit their idea of perfect?

The answer is: all the time. And then what happens? We become sad, self-conscious and unhappy with ourselves, feeling like we are unworthy or not lovable the way we naturally are.

Self-Acceptance for Spiritual Growth and Awakening

This is the message today: we need to start a revolution of self acceptance and love for who we truly are—and for once, not care what anyone else has to think or say.

For once, just say, “F*** it, I’m gonna do me! Be me and love me, for myself and no one else!”

Seriously, right now, say that out loud.

To cycle back to the beginning, this was a comment I received from a student right after teaching (what I thought) was a class with wonderful energy and great people sharing their practice together. She questioned my eating habits and other exercise practices I do outside of yoga… and then pinched my side.

I was at a loss for words—especially since this happened in a yoga environment, a supposed safe haven from judgment and hate. I had struggled with an eating disorder for eight years, and had found a good place—but these comments shook me and I began to question all of the personal progress I have made in my life.

Rachel Priest

I was faced with a choice, as we all are when people criticize and critique our life to try and “fix” us. I could either fall into old bad habits of the eating disorder and self-loathing.

Or, I could finally realize that I love myself and I’m perfectly fine the way I am, no matter what judgements a stranger may have and if you don’t think so, then great, that stranger can carry their judgment to their grave but I will keep living in light and love and no longer be affected by another’s hate or criticisms.

That is my message: we all need to rally together and promote self acceptance and love. Let’s keep on living our life happily knowing that we are all beautiful and undying souls and we were born perfect and will never be more perfect than we are at this very moment.

Because perfection isn’t an outward appearance or attire and seriously, who has a supermodel body and is truly happy within themselves everyday? Probably no one.

I know that I am not “perfect” by American standards and probably never will be. But what I am is loving, adventurous, silly, goofy, a strong kid and no one can crush my spirit.

I will never look like a typical tiny yoga teacher, but you know what? I look pretty freaking good—I am strong, flexible, knowledgeable and want to help people and so if that isn’t enough, then I will quit openly.

See also: Maitri (Pema Chodron).

So looking into our own lives, where today can we realize that we are behaving in a certain way to please others?

Where are we not truly ourselves because someone made us feel inadequate to be ourselves and said we needed to change?

Can we just take a moment, look inward and then eliminate this person or situation from our lives?

For years I used the disorder as my crutch but now, it is my strength. Through my pain, I can help others who are struggling and keeping silent. If need be I can be the voice that shouts out, “you are beautiful and perfect exactly this way and fuck anyone that can’t see the beauty in you that I see.” But Ideally, I want us all to have the strength to do this.

We all need to let go and just truly accept ourselves for who we are.

When our time comes and our physical bodies die, do we want to look back and realize we lived our lives trying to change to please others? Or do we come to a point and realize that we are perfect now, we will never be here again and in that moment, we are more beautiful and no one…let me say that again, no one, can steal or snuff out our light.

So just as I am standing in that picture, in a bathing suit with everything showing, I can say that I think I look pretty good.

Can you look at yourself today and say, “Damn, I love you self, I have never met anyone like you. You are exciting, fun, happy, and I truly see you, how honored I am to know myself.”

Sometimes this is easier said than done and it has taken me a long time to come to this place. But whatever you are struggling with, pains, sadness, eating disorders, fears, desires, anxieties, etc. whatever it is, try to let a little piece of it go today.

Letting go a little piece of whatever your struggles are, even just changing one negative thought a day about yourself into a positive thought, do so.

Begin the journey of self-acceptance. People always ask, “Well, it’s scary to let go of my pain and other’s criticisms because it is all that I know—what will I find when I let go?”

I answer, “Finally, you will find You!”

Bonus: How we can make yoga more accessible to marginalized groups without turning into a “generous thief.”


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Ed: Bryonie Wise
Image: Holly Sharpe 

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Rachel Priest

After growing up in Knoxville, TN, Rachel moved many times with her family and then continued to travel the world globally through the years. After struggling with an eight-year long battle with eating disorders, Rachel Finally found her freedom and self acceptance and love through the practice of yoga and rock climbing. Rachel currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina and teaches at various gyms and studios in the area, promoting the idea of self-love and acceptance. Beyond teaching, Rachel is a beach bum at heart and loves the waves and ocean and soaking up the sun.

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anonymous Jan 22, 2016 5:05pm

I cannot believe how thoughtless that woman was to make such a comment! You are absolutely gorgeous just as you are. Thank you for sharing this personal experience.~

anonymous Jan 22, 2016 12:23pm

You look so strong, so healthy, so fit, so beautiful!!!!!!!!!! And you actually look nourished!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve never understood how skinny and starved is supposed to beautiful?… sad sad sad that we’ve so bought into collective beliefs about beauty that want to make us feel ugly, so we keep buying more. You are a goddess and light for all real, authentic, and thriving women. Much love to you Rachel!

anonymous Jan 22, 2016 9:43am

You turned a negative experience into something beautiful. Thank you for being so honest and real. May I reblog this? To me, true fitness and health is being real. We need more voices like yours out there.

anonymous Jan 21, 2016 5:42pm

You look strong and beautiful!

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 3:54pm

FWIW, I think you look fit and sexy!

anonymous Oct 25, 2015 8:28am

You are beautiful as you are. I know I will never be as thin as most of the yoga teachers that I see and tgat has discouraged me. In the picture you look joyful, strong, and healthy. That is something that I would choise over skinny any day of the week.

anonymous Oct 13, 2015 6:25pm

You look great. That person has an issue of some sort.

anonymous Jul 27, 2015 9:27am

I don't want to be another dude making a "you're beautiful" comment, but I can't believe someone said that to the woman in that picture. Do you, Rachel. Thanks for sharing.

I had people laugh at our soccer team because I don't fit the ideal soccer player body type. I of course had the last laugh.

anonymous Jul 14, 2015 7:32pm

Thank you Rachel. At 60, I have had a yoga practice since I was 16 (on and off), and have always done my best to eat well and stay fit. That being said, I have never fit the image of the perfect American body. I look more like your photo, but a bit older! And I have struggled with food issues and body image waaaay too long. I am just coming to terms with the idiocy of it all and being grateful for what my body can still do, strength and flexibility-wise. The brain is the most important organ to keep fit…it is what allows us to understand truth and beauty beyond the precepts of a particular culture/society. Keep doing what you're doing and spreading the word! Our sisters and daughters need all the help they can get.

anonymous Jun 20, 2015 3:54pm

You have a beautiful, healthy looking body, Rachel! Because you do NOT fit the cliche' you ARE the type of yoga teacher I would be more comfortable learning and exercising with! Because of health issues and chronic pain and fatigue, I have gained a lot of weight, but I am getting to the point where I slowly try to get back into exercising and increasing my very diminished flexibility. I used to be a gymnast and I am not feeling like myself at all. At the same time I have a lot of trouble being active outside and around other people. Role models like you make me feel like doing it anyway! Thank you for this great article and many blessings to you!

anonymous May 17, 2015 5:49pm

Thanks for sharing this article, it is refreshing. I split up with my ex quite recently, partly because he didn’t like me the way I am. I was fed up of being called fat. I have met a guy since splitting up who told me that I have a fantastic figure & don’t need to lose weight. It is so subjective isn’t it! I think we need to love ourselves as we are. `You look great and are in no way fat! And neither am I!!! People who pass these judgements are insecure.

anonymous May 16, 2015 11:58pm

Wow. I saw this photo and I thought that's a beautiful woman and look at her body (without reading the text). So I couldn't believe someone told you to lose weight. People who say that must be very unhappy with themselves. Thanks for your words of wisdom and you look great. Honestly.

anonymous Apr 12, 2015 7:33pm

Hi Rachel, I think you look amazing! Healthy and beautiful. Whoever it was that said those comments to you, was WAY out of line. Its simply not OK. I wonder if anyone ever came up to (her?) and spat out their unsolicited and uninformed “advice” like that. I’m sure she wouldn’t like it. Makes me so mad when people actually think they have the right to say things like that to anyone – and this applies to any aspect of life. If it involves me personally, and I didn’t ask for your opinion, then I don’t want it.

anonymous Apr 12, 2015 9:41am

You are AWESOME! Your post is freaking awesome! It is with immense respect I acknowledge YOU and all the inner work you have done to arrive here and share your deep message with others. I also want to invite the shadowy side in each one of us to see that part of ourselves that is the critic, the judge, and acknowledge it, embrace it as a voice of the past that doesn’t rule us anymore. Much love to you all that reads this post.

anonymous Apr 12, 2015 12:50am

Wow what an amazing piece. Made me feel very proud to be in my own skin with just a few words in. Im moving to south carolina. Bluffton. Do you teach any classes there?

anonymous Feb 20, 2015 8:11am

Beautiful article, thank you!

anonymous Feb 6, 2015 12:26pm

Want me to punch them in the face? …Okay, not really. I’m still working on what to do with my frustration… okay, fury, when someone is hurtful that way and I can’t or it can’t be cleaned up. I’m powerless, I’m powerless, I’m powerless. Let it go, let it go, let it go. Okay! Okay! Okay! Be patient with yourself, dammit! (I talk to myself pretty regularly.)
To you I say, I’m sorry any of them hurt you that way.
Loving you,

anonymous Feb 6, 2015 9:19am

I’m brand-brand new to yoga, so admittedly i come with a bit of idealism bias, but this kind of situation seems to call for a reminder as to why we each practice yoga. Why the teacher/author practices, and why the student practices. It can be as simple as saying something like “I practice yoga for health, resiliency, and recovery. And to help me let go of the ‘shoulds’ and expecations that block me from truly living. I teach yoga so that others may safely discover yoga’s benefits for themselves. What do you practice yoga for?” (With a sincere interest in why they practice yoga for themselves.) This way the focus turns away from judging externals of bodies, and turns the thoughts onto the internal and psychological benefits of yoga. And, hopefully, generate a discussion that other students can join in on.

anonymous Feb 6, 2015 3:16am

So what did you say to her?

anonymous Feb 6, 2015 2:04am

I am pretty sure that those people who judge you so hardly are the ones who also judge themselves the same way, and probably struggle with a tough battle within, eating disorders, etc… it´s ironical isn´t it?
For the last 4 or 5 years I have been fighting with eating disorders myself and problems of self-acceptance, low self esteem, feeling not loveable, etc… I am now a yoga teacher as well and I believe no matter how I look and what kind of fights I am carrying within me, I can help people, I want to… i was very inspired by your story and saw myself in your skin. Yoga can be an amazing tool to help ourselves and others, but some people can use it the wrong way, just as they use gym, jogging or dieting, as a way to change "who I am" and "how I look".
And.. you look amazing!!! sexy, strong and ALIVE 🙂

anonymous Feb 5, 2015 2:00am

there are also many many positive people in this world. lets focus on that.

anonymous Feb 4, 2015 9:28pm

As a lady who constantly struggles with weight and body image, I thank you for your honesty and self-acceptance. I’m not there yet but I try. If I could do my entire practice with my eyes shut and never have to look in the mirror, that would be bliss. I have had both men and women offer up their suggestions to me for how I can be “more healthy” yet my physicians all say I’m in perfect health albeit overweight. I came really close to my ideal weight about two months ago…and then I steadily started increasing again. I will figure this all out someday but until I do, I discipline myself to stay active, stay grounded and stay on my mat. Thank you for inspiring me.

anonymous Feb 4, 2015 8:13pm

You are beautiful, strong and healthy looking.

anonymous Feb 4, 2015 1:21pm

Yeeeeew! You rock. Thank you for encouraging all of us to love ourselves harder. Sometimes we need to be reminded of how truly wonderful we are.

anonymous Jan 8, 2015 6:13am

Rachel- a body is a wonderland and yours is beautiful! Reading about your soul was wonderful and I am thrilled to know that your comfortable with your appearance. To me, you are far more attractive than any skinny (unhealthy in appearance) woman who would stand next to you. Keep up the great work and your desire to help others. You’re BEAUTIFUL!

anonymous Dec 31, 2014 5:31pm

Congratulations on your self-acceptance and awareness! Your article is wonderful although I sense your title and tone belies your message. Judgement and comparison lead us on the path of suffering and away from self-compassion. We are all ‘real’ bodies.

anonymous Dec 31, 2014 5:18pm

Simply beautiful! I’m not into yoga so much(for now), but your ideas seem so healthy to me!

anonymous Oct 31, 2014 6:53am

The blind leading the blind. Real Yoga is all about the Hindu religion, taught by Hindus and not for a fee.__Swami Param

    anonymous Feb 4, 2015 10:18pm

    Actually real yoga is everything. Yoga is about being in the present moment without control. So Hindu or not. We can all practice yoga as we please. Also great article. You look and sound so strong

anonymous Oct 12, 2014 10:35pm

We all need to practice saying " I like my body just the way it is, and I would appreciate it if you kept your criticisms to yourself." If we practice this, then when someone comments on our bodies, we will be prepared to answer. It's high time these negative people were called on the carpet for their rude behaviors.

anonymous Sep 29, 2014 11:27pm

Rachel, i was really touched by this article :D….it moved something in me because for a long time i let other people impose their negativity and their judgements on me. Since 2 months ago i think, i started a healing process both phisically and mentally (especially mentally :D) where i accept myself as i am with all that we consider good and bad and it is been amazing. I thank you for this wonderfull article which i hope a lot of people will read and i would like to keep in touch with you on Facebook, here is my account

I wish you and all the beautiful people reading this article a great day, a great week and an amazing life :D, all the best

anonymous Sep 29, 2014 7:40am

there are many real yoga bodies. just saying…

anonymous Sep 26, 2014 3:50am

1. You're gorgeous. I see nothing one would have to "learn to love" there, honestly, even though I fully know and understand what you mean by that. 2. The yoga student who came up to you and ACTUALLY SAID THAT should quit yoga. Forever. Because the compassion bit, which is very important, isn't working. Okay, so maybe I should not say quit and say instead she needs a yoga intensive because HOLY CRAP. 3. Thank you for writing this. It came into my vision at a very good time.

anonymous Sep 24, 2014 6:13pm

I am also a "curvy" pilates teacher. I think you look healthy and awesome. I've also decided to like my body and who I am. thanks for the inspiration.

anonymous Sep 24, 2014 5:13am

Every Yoga Teacher reading this should share it and bring the topic up in class-we need to remind our students that yoga is more than an Asana:) I will be sharing.

anonymous Sep 23, 2014 8:13pm

You know I have never heard of a man walking up to another man or woman to tell them about their weight. I have only heard of women doing this. From that one picture there, you have an amazing body. I love thick women, healthy of course, it beats a skinny body any day, not that I hate on skinny girls, I'm just saying.

anonymous Sep 23, 2014 12:32pm

Fantastic! Awesome! Beautiful!

anonymous Sep 23, 2014 11:58am

Thank you for teaching yoga despite not fitting the typical mold of yoga teacher…..whatever that may be. Honestly, the yoga classes I enjoy most are those taught by people with an authentic genuineness, no matter what they look like. I'm not sure how you held your tongue as this person made those comments, or if you should have. I've decided that I can no longer condone people's poor behavior by silently allowing them to say hurtful things like that. That woman needs to know that her comments are hurtful, wrong, and uncalled for. However, that may not be your role….if only I lived near you. I'd be happy to educate her on how opinions are most often better left in your head!

anonymous Sep 19, 2014 12:06pm

You look great – ignore the haters – there are so many negative people in the world.

anonymous Aug 29, 2014 1:08am

Thank you for sharing, Rachel. As a yoga teacher, I am baffled at the majority of skinny bodies that make up our teachers. Nothing against skinny people. It makes me question how much of yoga is about image and how much of it is about the yoga.

anonymous Aug 23, 2014 5:28am

Your light is infinite! Keep shining girl! You are beautiful!

Thank you for sharing something vulnerable and look your message has struck hundreds of hearts and probably even made someones' day. 🙂

Peace, Love, and Namaste 🙂

anonymous Aug 18, 2014 2:15pm

I am also not one of the tiny people doing yoga in their over-priced brand name yoga clothes, however, I have been regularly practicing since 1996, mainly on my own (or via YouTube) for the last ten years after moving to a rural area. A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend a class in DC. It took every fiber in my essence to keep from punching the instructor in the face when after a very challenging class she said she was amazed at how flexible I was and that I kept up with her class for being a "dumpy farmer." Instead, I just said "namaste" and walked away.

anonymous Jul 24, 2014 3:30pm

Beautifully written…just like you Rachael! Thank you for this incredible article! BRAVO 🙂

anonymous Jul 7, 2014 6:53am

That's what your yoga body looks like. I have a yoga body but it doesn't look like yours nor is it fake. Personally I think you look healthy and very attractive and strangers telling you to lose weight should not be accepted by anyone other than a doctor diagnosing you with a disease caused by your weight. Thank you for sharing your experience but please don't single others out with the "this is what a real woman looks like" campaign.

anonymous Jul 7, 2014 4:30am

You are beautiful. You are amazing.

Do not let those who cannot appreciate your beauty beyond the the physical body dampen your fire and passion.

Continue the great work and keep smiling 🙂

anonymous Jun 12, 2014 6:40pm

The only thing I can think is maybe your student was a wee bit jealous but unconsciously. I think you are super-hot and your body is awesomely beautiful.

anonymous May 22, 2014 5:21pm

You look absolutely amazing Rachel. I would love to look as good as you do! Don’t allow others to define you. If we listened to every negative comment and/or advice that people have us we wouldn’t know who we are or what direction to go. Everyone, listen to yourselves and who YOU want to be and look. I’ll follow my own advice here from now on

anonymous May 22, 2014 2:32pm

Life is for living not for worrying so much – you look fab as you are and it's time everyone spent less time focusing on this and more time being themselves and enjoying life. We all deserve to do that <3

anonymous May 22, 2014 6:26am

I don't see any weight you need to lose. Only see strength, freedom and celebration.

anonymous May 21, 2014 2:51pm

I'm a 54 year old male yoga teacher/psychologist. My weight varies around the high 180s – low 190s (and I really work hard to keep it that low). I have a lot of muscle, as well as some fat. That is how I am embodied. I certainly will never show up on the cover of Yoga Journal, and I don't fit the image of a yoga teacher, and I have also received an occasional comment to that effect. However, I view that as function of how in the west hatha yoga has become used with ego attachment with body image, and not yoga as a vehicle for greater awareness. With that said, I find my rather atypical appearance as a benefit as it helps my students (typically folks in drug rehab or facing health or mental health challenges), more accepting of asana as a vehicle for change.

anonymous May 21, 2014 10:14am

“you are beautiful and perfect exactly this way and fuck anyone that can’t see the beauty in you that I see.”

anonymous May 21, 2014 4:39am

this is beautiful. As a "non conforming yoga looking teacher".. I can relate to this article so well, but if someone came up to class to me and said that… I think it would have gone down a bit like this,… warning, fowl language.

anonymous May 20, 2014 8:52pm

Rachel, you're perfect. End of story.

anonymous May 20, 2014 6:34pm

I was watching some tricking videos last night and stumbled on a video of a guy doing a tornado kick and a back handspring. He happened to be overweight, and one of the comments he received was "Damn that was cool dude! Just think: if you keep that up, you'll have a body that looks so good, you won't be ashamed to take your shirt off in the locker room. Very impressive!" It made me realize, just like this article did, how harmed we are by those idealized body types. They make people think we should be ashamed when every body is capable of doing so many beautiful things. But it's the people who say these things that are the most harmed, because they can't enjoy their own talents in their bodies without going through a highly demanding regimen. Respect to those that have the "ideal" form without feeling like all people need to have it though, for their hard work and their knowledge that just because someone has a different shape doesn't mean they're lazy.

anonymous May 20, 2014 4:30pm

I love you so much! Thank you for writing it. I shed a few tears and I appreciated every word. Bless your beautiful body and spirit!

anonymous May 7, 2014 5:26am

YOU.ARE.AWESOME. thank you for your inspiration. you are simply amazing xo

anonymous Apr 15, 2014 5:15am

Cant believe anyone would pinch you and comment on your weight very rude. Bless you for being so proud and honest and amazing…

anonymous Apr 14, 2014 6:11pm

All platitudes aside, you are strikingly divine. I’m sorry you had to experience such negative energy like that but we really do learn and grow from this flexing of our heart and ego.

anonymous Apr 14, 2014 3:33pm

Thanks for sharing. From one strong womanly yoga teacher to another. Shine on! Live and speak your truth and in doing do, you are inspiring many. Much live

anonymous Apr 14, 2014 10:47am

That's a reflection of the person saying it, not you. Keep on loving yourself. You are a beautiful!!! And my gosh, so strong!

anonymous Apr 13, 2014 11:40pm

Thank you for this! I needed this!

anonymous Apr 13, 2014 10:46am

I bet you’ve really grown so much in realizing your self worth and loving your body, that the universe had to present you with what you are most afraid of. Anyone who has had an eating disorder knows that having someone confront you in your safest space, after an amazing yoga class, pinching your waist and telling you you aren’t thin enough…that is what you are afraid everyone will think, including yourself. The day you can laugh at her, and tell her to get a life as you are a freaking goddess and that you find your own healthy body beautiful – when you can say that and be genuinely amused – that won’t keep happening to you. You are being given an amazing opportunity to work through your own issues. We ALL have them. Let’s be honest, you look amazing. Curvy and strong and healthy and beautiful. Own it. You go girl!

anonymous Apr 13, 2014 6:14am

Dunno where to start! These kind of people are generally best left go fuck themselves. I’m pretty sure that women put a lot of unnecessary pressure on themselves and other women to look a certain way. Men don’t go out of their way to pass comment on another guy’s weight like that. But equally important is the falsehood of all men wanting women to look like a supermodel. I certainly don’t. Rachel, you look stunning. Any size issue this shallow cow had against you is basically her own failing. She failed to acknowledge the powerful structure you have and mistook it for excessive bulk. It seems obvious that you have are a woman with many strengths and physical strength is the most visual. I’ll assume your Yoga skills were lost on her as apparently someone hadn’t paid attention in class.

I do feel however that there is an uncomfortably growing problem of society trying to accept fatness in people. I’m not talking of an extra few pounds here or there though. I mean serious bulk that causes mobility problems. If a person can’t rely on their own power to get around with ease due to their diet then something should be done. All the empowering ‘big girls are beautiful’ chat in the world won’t help them when their joints start packing in at an early age. Besides a general removal of a sedentary life and increased self control of food intake, Yoga is almost a perfect solution. Using your own body in controlled poses to relax and exert yourself at the same time – ideal!

As I said earlier, you look amazing. People like yourself getting targetted by the petty minded are only being raised higher. I hasten to assume that the person who pinched you was probably less than the mythical perfection. She certainly was at least lacking in manners and tact!

anonymous Apr 12, 2014 10:17pm

You look hot as hell. SMOKIN' hot! Big love and admiration from New Zealand.

anonymous Apr 12, 2014 9:26pm

Thanks for your bold article…and if it hasn’t aleady been said, you have an amazing body.

anonymous Apr 12, 2014 8:31pm

First of all, you are truly beautiful! Second of all, thanks for sharing – needed to hear that today (-: Please keep sharing, the world needs your wisdom and ability to see beauty.

anonymous Apr 12, 2014 8:16pm

That's a lot what my yoga body looks like, we have unnatural expectations of what women should look like. I am strong and curvy and literally just about all muscle. I am not a little girl. i am me. adult magnificent curvy beautiful woman who is not cutting herself down to someone elses size.

anonymous Apr 12, 2014 8:08pm

So, throw out the word "perfect" for almost everything (well, maybe except souffles); there is beauty, beauty, beauty in so many different forms, and the SHM (standard human mind) often sees and experiences things in such a narrow spectrum……many blessings to you Rachel, and I'd "do" yoga with you any day, and feel blessed for the experience…..

anonymous Apr 12, 2014 7:52pm

You are PERFECT! Beautiful inside and out and no one can take that from you! You are strong and she was well, to be nice (which she may not deserve but hey, no haters here!) weak…weak minded and very ill mannered. She actually pinched you?! Wow…I hope she can somehow see the grave errors of her way and heal.

anonymous Apr 12, 2014 7:44pm

Rachel !!! You are a GODDESS !! I wish you were here in Venice CA .. I would take your classes …. Xoxo praise to you …

anonymous Apr 1, 2014 1:21am

I salute the divinity in you, in all of us even the woman with the viewpoint, I salute it in her too, hold tight and hey….good morning USA !!

anonymous Mar 27, 2014 2:29pm

There are always people out there with mouths two steps ahead of their brains. This Canadian guy thinks you look fantastic! Stay strong and ignore the negativity!

anonymous Mar 27, 2014 9:26am

Excellent Rachel! Your look, your body is perfect. It is who you are supposed to be and the miracle that is you. Unfortunate that someone so judgemental would have the arrogance to think they know what you *should* look like. You are right where you are supposed to be, you are the being you are supposed to be– the perfect, beautiful you.

anonymous Mar 27, 2014 9:20am

I'm shocked and speechless at the comments that were made to you. You are strong, inspiring and beautiful. Self-acceptance is an attitude and lifestyle that our culture needs so much more of.Thank you for setting an amazing example.

anonymous Mar 18, 2014 3:37pm

I just want to say for what it's worth- A. People are mostly crazy. and B. You. look. amazing. 🙂

anonymous Mar 18, 2014 11:32am

LOL clearly they missed the point of the yoga. You are awesome keep it up.

anonymous Mar 16, 2014 9:34pm

Your statement was amazing. I think your struggles with ED have resolved and the body you currently inhabit looks PERFECT to me. Please stay strong and confident in you journey through life and let the negative words/judgements/actions Just Wash Away. Blessings and Best Wishes fro San Francisco Rachel

anonymous Mar 16, 2014 2:49pm

Admire your strength and courage for being so open with your writing. So sad – but a reflection of the harshness that student probably also turns toward herself. She was expressing her dissatisfaction with herself – mirroring it back to you.

anonymous Mar 15, 2014 10:16pm

One of the best yoga teachers at Kripalu is round and cuddly. She looks like Buddha. She was tremendously popular when I was going there. Incredibly rude people with superficial values will hopefully get there some day.

anonymous Mar 15, 2014 2:46pm

That poor tortured soul. What thoughts must hurt her every day. Your compassion is the best response!

anonymous Mar 15, 2014 11:18am

You look amazing, I would kill for that body! Thanks for sharing this lovely inspiration story too.

anonymous Mar 15, 2014 9:36am

As a teacher of Plus size beautiful women I thank you for this post

anonymous Mar 15, 2014 9:04am

Wow, she clearly had many issues about body image and her own self-esteem. I can only think that life decided that you should encounter her, so that you did stand up for yourself and your beautiful body. Too many women, who practise yoga or not, worry about their image whatever their shape or size and can be judged so critically by other women. It's about time we all learnt to appreciate and love each other, and ourselves of course!

anonymous Mar 15, 2014 8:05am

Ride on sista!

anonymous Mar 15, 2014 7:40am

I don't even know where to begin.
1) You look absolutely amazing…I would love to have your muscular body any day over a 105lb rail of a body.
2) I think people need to change their view of perfect… and bones IS NOT perfect.
3) Jealousy reared it's ugly head when she said what she said to you.
4) I have often not wanted to go to a class because the teacher looked tiny and muscular and I just assumed (yes I judged) that she would look at my body and think "helpless". I would much rather have a teacher with a real body to teach me….I would feel less intimidated.
And 5)Keep your attitude…..don't let anyone change the way you feel. You are an encouragement to so many people for exactly who you are!

anonymous Mar 15, 2014 5:59am

You look great and I liked your article a lot. "Don't worry, be happy!" – wonderful words from famous song. The people's attitude towards oneself depends a lot on the way you feel – it's like a mutual trance, where we share our feelings. As for the figure of modern models: if you compare the women's figures fifty years ago and now, you'll see the dramatic changes. And the modern changes are seen through so called "normal and fashionable" status, because there are many people like that. A lot of these thin and tall people have systematic problems in: nervous, cardio-, breathing, hormone, etc. systems. So, nobody doesn't need to feel unhappy, because the status "normal" isn't normal any more. So, friends, please, be happy to live your life in your own way! (clinical psychologist)

anonymous Mar 15, 2014 3:49am

So beautiful and so true,
I love you exactly the way you are

anonymous Mar 15, 2014 12:17am

Girl, you fine as hell. Fo real.

anonymous Mar 14, 2014 11:40pm

This is a perfect example of how the masses in the West just don’t understand Yoga at all.

I am sorry that you had to experience this. It only tells me that we have much to do as teachers. May it fuel your fire. We need to get Yoga out of the gym and we need more teachers like you!

anonymous Mar 2, 2014 7:33pm

YOU are so beautiful! thank you for sharing your story so openly and with such strength!

anonymous Feb 28, 2014 1:14pm

I agree, you do look great. But isn't beauty in the eye of the beholder really?

Not to rain on any ones parade, but when someone (be it in the comments or an article) says something like: "I am shocked and appalled that someone would have the sheer audacity…" and then goes on how we should't be judgmental is a real hypocrite. And you have written some truly inspiring words and thoughts in the article, but my logic everything has to have a balance. Even loving yourself. For example, a drinking, wife abusing, people hating, unemployed, run-away father ( I know its a little overboard, but anyway…) should never EVER say to himself "you are beautiful and perfect exactly this way and fuck anyone that can’t see the beauty in you", although he probably does say that every day.

anonymous Feb 26, 2014 8:59am

Are you kidding me? Your body is amazing! Nothing wrong there, you look like a strong and healthy role model. Keep it up….

anonymous Feb 26, 2014 6:50am

That student who commented such a mean unkind pointless remark needs to come to more yoga! For myself as a yoga teacher who struggled with body image for years, yoga was my saving grace. I am enough I have enough. Thank you for sharing your story. I have such gratitude for all yoga teachers, they really are sharing HEARTS when they teach……and open up to spreading love Health and happiness which has nothing to do with what the physical body looks like. LOVE TO YOU

anonymous Jan 24, 2014 3:25am

Love your words!

anonymous Jan 15, 2014 5:22am

Whoever said this to you obviously was not raised hearing “If you can’t say something nice, keep your mouth shut,” I hope she reads this post – & anyone else who feels free to give unasked for opinions – especially negative ones! When this happens to me I say “When I want your opinion , I’ll ask for it, but it’s not important to me so don’t hold your breath”

anonymous Jan 13, 2014 9:05pm

Thank you for writing this breath of fresh air. I got into yoga about a hear ago and was very hesitant because I didnt think I would fit in. I had always pictured the tall stick thin woman who could put her feet behind her head with ease. This is definitly not me. Thankfully I was able to find a studio that made everyone feel welcome and at home. As I started to have a consistent practice I begain to be thankful for what my body did for me and not the way my love handles looked. I felt strong and powerful. I was feeling confident and decided that I would one day like to be an instructor myself. I expressed this to a coworker who said as she scanned my body, “thats fine but I think when people go to yoga they expect to have a teacher with high standards on how they look.” I wasnt and still am not completely sure what she meant by this, but I knew I didnt like it. It shot my confidence down. I started looking at myself in the mirror during my practice instead of focusing on my breath. It took me awhile to let those words go. The only thing that helped was to get to what kept me coming back to yoga in the first place. The fact that it was my practice, for my mind, for my body, and for my health no matter what I looked like. In the mirror I started to see my muscles, my pear shape that suddenly became flattering to me, and my butt which is one of my husbands favorite parts of my body. I happy to be me and I owe a lot of it yoga.

anonymous Jan 7, 2014 7:47am

Thank you for this post! This is the way it should be. Om Shanti, shanti, shanti.

anonymous Jan 7, 2014 3:17am

yes, girl! you are totally awesome, look fantastic and are an inspiration! thank you!

anonymous Jan 4, 2014 5:16pm

You look amazing! Good article!

anonymous Jan 3, 2014 5:03pm

a beautiful soul, thank you x

anonymous Jan 2, 2014 10:26pm

If that’s you in the picture, you have nothing to worry about. i would so eat you and do other naughty to you in that pose. i would kiss every part of your flesh, run my hands through your hair, kiss yer neck, lick yer aereola and do anything you wanted me too. as fer overwright, my yin teacher is obviously not in the < 25 bmi, but she is a good teacher, and very ameable. thats what counts for me; i love her class. my first bikram class was by a very obese woman who could touch her head to the floor. we are friends now and last i saw her, she shed a lot of weight. so, yes, just be yerself and in yer case, i would so massage yer pink parts with my tongue and corona. dont worry about it!!!

anonymous Jan 2, 2014 4:20pm

I am really saddened that this happened to you and I think it's an awful thing to say to anyone, anywhere. Seriously, what a ridiculously unnecessary thing to say. What good did that do? Did she think you were going to run out and stop eating? Well, whatever, it's awful, especially the pinch! Ugh!

That aside, I wanted you to know that you look fantastic, and that it inspires me to see women with different types of bodies teaching and practicing yoga. I LOVE seeing teachers who are more muscular or shapely. It gives me a feeling of belonging and that no matter what, I can participate too. In fact, someday, I could even teach if I wanted to! So I want to thank you for being willing to put yourself out there, even when people aren't always as welcoming. You are inspiring.

anonymous Jan 1, 2014 11:20am

Thank you for this amazing, inspiring post. I myself have just started doing yoga and accepting all 200+ lbs of me. I know I need the shed pounds for my health, but it’s refreshing to hear that it’s okay to love me as I am.

anonymous Jan 1, 2014 9:16am

"Self acceptance is the new skinny!" ~Elise Cantrell ( from the book 40 Days to Enlightened Eating)

anonymous Jan 1, 2014 4:56am

You look gorgeous, Rachel. These legs! These boobs! Who would say “no” to that? Right: No one. Thank God we all come in different shapes & sizes. I think we should all strive to optimize our bodies so that we can shine & walk through life with self-esteem (and I don’t even do yoga). But the best possible outcome can be skinny for the first girl, strong for the next one & curvy for the last. If you yourself feel at home in your body, then that’s it. And some stranger who feels entitled to give you their opinion about how you need to live your life just really still needs to find themselves.

anonymous Jan 1, 2014 2:03am

If thats you in the pic on the beach your hot so forget them also make a comment generally to the class about being judgemental and also how you do not know another persons history.

I am told I need to lose wieght all the time as a soft tissue therapist. But these people fail to take into account my legs are a mess and have already had surgery or I have struggled with depression and poor self esteem. For this reason I trt not to be judgemental and try to be respectful and educate others where I can.

Proud of your strength and accomplishment s.

anonymous Dec 31, 2013 10:35pm

Where do you teach in charleston? I visit there a lot and love to check out yoga classes!

anonymous Dec 31, 2013 9:44pm

This woman is in all respect, an athlete, as yoga isn’t competitive much like drumming and other physical tasks we do to better ourselves. Never confuse swimsuit models with athletes.

anonymous Dec 31, 2013 6:54pm

You are BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for being.

anonymous Dec 31, 2013 5:25pm

Real yoga teachers come in all shapes and sizes. I’m one of those 5’3″ strong and sturdy types. I’m 50, a certified yoga teacher and a 2nd degree black belt in Muay Thai. My six pack is under a layer of body fat. I’m also a breast cancer survivor. Yoga, the union of mind, body, spirit, is the means for me to transcend the baloney the rest of the world wants me to eat.

anonymous Dec 31, 2013 4:33pm

You look so beautiful and strong!! You have a real woman's body (and for me that is no euphemism, it is one of most beautiful things in the world!). And I'm glad you feel beautiful, too! From loving ourselves we can love and be compassionate with others. Thank you for your reflections!

anonymous Dec 24, 2013 7:58am

You are beautiful

anonymous Nov 22, 2013 6:31am

The relationship you have with yourself is mirrored in the relationships we have with others. Your advice to say, “Damn, I love you self, I have never met anyone like you. You are exciting, fun, happy, and I truly see you, how honored I am to know myself.” will be reflected back to you. What a joy.

anonymous Nov 21, 2013 11:44am

Thank you thank you for this article…I have struggled my whole life with self acceptance and self love…and I have to say, I would be proud to look like your picture. You look strong, healthy and most of all happy. Namaste!

anonymous Nov 21, 2013 12:07am

I wonder what that woman would do in my class, given that I’m a man…

And correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the core philosophy of yoga tell us that our bodies are a) fundamentally perfect and b) only the meatbag we walk around in?

anonymous Nov 20, 2013 5:37pm

Rachael you look like a woman. One reason I love yoga is how it allows anyone to join in. There is no set type of body that can or cannot practice yoga. Obviously your student does not realize this yet and of course we do not know what shit has been said to her over the years. Move forward!

anonymous Nov 20, 2013 3:57pm

Thank you for this wonderful post. I continue to find it painfully remarkable that yoga has become so fully co-opted by materialism in every sense. In this case, the materialism of appearance. Do these folks not understand, yoga is a spiritual practice of union within. Practicing yoga through the body is not intended to make you more desireable, either as a photo-worthy subject or as an athletic icon. When I started doing ecstatic dance with Vinn Marti, I was surprised and eventually grateful that every mirror in the room was covered over, and the motto was "Dance Ugly and Drool", because in dance, too, the attention can so swiftly shift to appearance and skill over authentic internal experience. Its all a house of mirrors anyway and our continued fascination with how we look in our asanas rather than what it opens up inside us only buries us further in the illusion. I'm so glad you didn't give in to your student's obsession and maybe we can have a moment of compassion for her and a wish for her to have peace with her own embodied experience. Blessings!

anonymous Nov 20, 2013 2:45pm

You look amazing! I love your legs! I desire great flexability and strong legs!!! I feel inspiration when I see your pic!

anonymous Nov 20, 2013 12:59pm

I am in love with this article. You rock, Rachel! You're beautiful, we all are. Never stop believing in yourselves!

anonymous Nov 20, 2013 12:05pm

People have very little awareness of the self hate they have, so they project it on others, not a nice thank you for teaching the class. I don’t see what yoga has to do with body type anyway. Rock your gorgeousness with pride.

anonymous Nov 20, 2013 12:03pm

Beautiful, natural, REAL. Great example of self acceptance for all. Thanks for recycling this article EJ.

anonymous Nov 20, 2013 11:44am

Love the content of the article, but the title really implies that the rest of us don't have a "real" yoga body. Part of that self-acceptance is also accepting that we all come in different shapes and sizes. Being very thin or muscular doesn't make a yoga body any less "real." As yogis – and as women – we need to stop idealizing one shape over another and move toward a place where we can feel free to be exactly as we are – thin, fat, muscular, and everything in between.

    anonymous Nov 20, 2013 2:09pm

    I disagree that the title implies that at all—I think it's quite the opposite, actually. We all have a real yoga body—and I chose this title because this piece beautifully describes the experience of having a body that is real and human and doesn't fit it into what we're often told a "real" body "should" be. ~ Bryonie

anonymous Nov 20, 2013 11:43am

While I enjoyed the article very much, the title is rather offensive. I am small and have always been. I also work very hard to be lean and muscular. And I work even harder to become a yogi. I have a large chest and the makes some poses difficult, but I adapt. We are all built different and we all have different goals for our bodies. To imply that you are MORE of a yogi because of your size than somebody else who is smaller than you because of that experience is a bit… Well, pretentious.

anonymous Nov 20, 2013 11:36am

I love this. Let's hear it for curves, tits and big bums! x

anonymous Nov 19, 2013 9:55am

Beautiful! Love your message.

anonymous Nov 18, 2013 5:56pm

Much love from a Knoxville, Tm native! I’m back at yoga for the first time since a yoga teacher said “You can do this, stop whining”to a room full of ppl. Now my instructor is awesome and inspiring but mostly KIND! Probably a lot like you. Thank you for this fab article.

anonymous Nov 18, 2013 9:28am

Thank you so much for your lovely article. Your words, much like yourself, are beautiful. As a larger woman who's been practicing yoga for 25 years, I get these types of comments and the sideways looks from other yoga practitioners and teacher alike ALL of the time. It floors me every-damn-time. Yoga class is suppose to be about unity, safety, oneness, positive energy, et al. I wish they could see me as more than my round belly, big boobs or curvy hips. But like my father used to tell me, "what other people think of you is none of your business". And it's true. I can't change what people's perceptions or prejudices are. It's too big a task and I'm not an "in your face" kinda gal. So I'm just going to keep being me -strong, funny, intelligent, loving, loyal, compassionate me. And I'll keep enjoying the look on their faces when I out downward dog their judgemental asses. 🙂

anonymous Nov 18, 2013 6:50am

I already commented (a long time ago), but I must say again how much I love this. Thank you! Erica

anonymous Nov 18, 2013 3:30am

You look amazing, and anyway as you know that isn't even the point. Thanks for representing for the real women in the world not some marketing nonsense. Keep it up! Xxxx

anonymous Nov 17, 2013 6:06pm

Thank you Rachel, for your honesty, strength, and for your confidence. Thank you for trying to instill that gift into others. It’s wonderfully liberating to love your body and let go of self hatred. I do believe that the sexiest trait that any woman (or really any human) can have is confidence in herself: in her body, mind, abilities, strength etc. I’m sorry that woman said what she did to you. She obviously has demons of her own, perhaps she is desperately trying to conform to impossible ideals of perfection and is having trouble struggling with that. I too have struggled with an eating disorder in the past. It’s a very dark and exhausting place to be in, to constantly hate your body, doubt yourself, stress over every thing that goes into your mouth… With great support I was able to overcome that darkness and truly love myself. Now I run with my dog and go to yoga, but I will never be thin- its not my body type. And I’m ok with that. My thighs are like rocks. They are strong and carry me we where I need to go- I live downtown in major city and walk everywhere. I love my body and another great thing I have is a loving and gentle boyfriend who is obsessed with my big thighs and big butt. He makes me feel like the sexiest woman alive. And dammit- I am one of them 🙂

anonymous Nov 17, 2013 9:02am

Sheesh, I can't wear Lululemon not because I'm fat but because I carry the genes of the short, stocky and incredibly strong Middle European women who had to work the potato fields for survival while their husbands were conscripted into whatever armies were raised by kings, kaisers and tsars. Yes, I've got a peasant's figure, 38-26-39, too hippy and short for a Lululemon size 12, and I'm not going to go 12 percent body fat to change it. It's the conceited, exclusionary attitudes of labels like Lululemon that make those of us who don't conform to their ideals feel unworthy and worse. I hope Lululemon goes the way of real fur–so gauche that it's only worn by those who are too ignorant to understand what it means.

anonymous Nov 17, 2013 8:06am

How wonderful that you chose to write this instead of giving up! Never give up.

PS: you look amazing! was this poor person (for indeed they might be poor in spirit, with their own self-esteem flagging dismally) blind?!?!

anonymous Nov 16, 2013 8:03pm

Wow! Thank you for sharing your strength truth and love!! You are awesome! I amsnaring this! So well said! Namaste …

anonymous Nov 16, 2013 3:36pm

My favorite line? "I look pretty freaking good—I am strong, flexible, knowledgeable" – YOU DO! Thank you so much for sharing – here's hoping that more of us are able to shine brightly, exactly as we are, because we are f'ing PERFECT.

anonymous Nov 16, 2013 12:10pm

Rachel, I loved this! Such great wisdom. And F____ that person who said that to you! LOL

I help women feel amazing for a living, I'm so grateful for what I get to do every day. Please write more. 🙂

anonymous Nov 15, 2013 1:29pm

Thank you Rachel! This is exactly what I needed to read, exactly right now.


anonymous Nov 15, 2013 7:13am

thank you from the rest of us who don't have 'perfect' bodies

anonymous Nov 14, 2013 8:57pm

Gosh I think you are stunningly beautiful; a picture of health and femininity in one radiant, glowing body! I have no idea what your student was thinking but she obviously has some kind of body issues herself. Just keep doing what you're doing lovely woman! There are some crazy people out there…

anonymous Nov 11, 2013 12:16am

ummm. the way you naturally are? People are not born out of shape and overweight (not saying that you are)… Personal decisions lead people to becoming out of shape and overweight. Sometimes decisions also keep people from being the best version of themselves under the pretense of self acceptance. However that is simply weakmindedness because its easier to stay the way you are than it is to make a decision to work hard and change your circumstance for the better. No one says you need to look like Barbie but if you arent giving 110% on dieting and exercise and you decided that you are perfect the way you are, then you are simply settling for an unambitious and underachieving version of yourself. Unfortunately lack of motivation and ambition always catches up to you- in the form of regret.. However I do agree that the choice to settle or squeeze all you can out of life should be left completely up to the individual. But please as an instructor/coach you should be inspiring people to be the best version of themselves and not just settling for themselves at that particular moment.

anonymous Nov 7, 2013 1:57pm

It is so sad that women are so judgmental, non-accepting and cruel to each other, especially in a yoga environment! I think you embody what yoga is all about – and BTW, you are beautiful, voluptuous and sexy just as you are.

anonymous Nov 6, 2013 3:43am

Rachel, you are amazing. Thanks for the inspiration. I just wrote this new blog post after reading yours.

anonymous Nov 1, 2013 8:21am

I'm quite thin by nature, and my body is just as real as yours.

anonymous Oct 29, 2013 11:50am

I think your body is bangin!!

anonymous Oct 29, 2013 8:43am

Absolutely beauty is inside. Which in returns shines out for the whole world to see. I am a big girl (according to American health standards MORBIDLY OBESE). I haven’t always been big. But bigger than average because I always Carried muscle. But as some of us know life happens, things happen, the world isn’t always accepting or empathetic. If you lose yourself to ‘them’ your forget the most amazing things about YOU.
Constantly I am told by people how surprised they are I am ‘that flexible’ ‘that strong’ ‘that capable of heavy exercise’.
To the world and the people that are fixated on physical capabilities of any said body types:
My body is not my boundary. My soul knows NO limitations. My LIFE is what guides me. Not my body! If you don’t believe me, WATCH ME!
My Deepest Namaste!

anonymous Oct 29, 2013 8:03am

I still can't get over the stunning rudeness of a student addressing their teacher in this way. You're quite correct: you don't look chubby; you look STRONG. But no matter what you look like, so long as you're the one imparting your skills, your students owe you enough respect to refrain from telling you your business. And teacher or not, they certainly owe you the common courtesy of personal boundaries and not touching you without permission.

All of which I'm sure you already know; I just… can't get over the sheer rudeness. Appalling conduct from a student, and a very graceful response from you.

anonymous Oct 29, 2013 6:48am

Thank you for posting this. I have been horrible in the past. I was the asshole judger. I am less that person now. Plus I think you look great. Strength is sexy.

anonymous Oct 29, 2013 1:25am

You are beautiful and strong and never let anyone destroy your spirit, I plan to become a Yoga teacher and it pains me that this kind of thing exists in the beautiful practice, and yes I have cellulite and if anyone said that to me I would tell them to F**k off (with love). I am in recovery from 25 years of Bulimia and it was on the mat that I discovered self-acceptance, its just a shame Yoga seems to mean something just about physical appearances to so many, they are missing so much. YOU ARE GORGEOUS JUST THE WAY YOU ARE so yeah I agree with Maryann F**k her 😀 Love you xxxx

anonymous Oct 28, 2013 11:44pm

I'm not surprised someone would say that to you. An old Guatemalan lady asked me once if I was pregnant. When I told her it was just some pudge, she asked how come I had a puffy belly if I was a yoga teacher. Ha. Thankfully, yoga has made me better at dealing with comments of this nature. That being said, I applaud you for writing about it to show people that we don't have to look a certain way in order to help people… but I will admit that the title was a turn off to not read it for a while. Through my years of yoga practice and study, I have varied in weight and strength, with injuries and spells of intense activity versus months of too much work. My body changes and sometimes it is lithe and thin and strong, and I do look the part that Abuelita was expecting me too. Saying one way is real and the other is not is biased on both levels and excludes the other. When we end up in situations where we are judged on our appearance by little old ladies or ignorant yoga students, it hurts, but know that most people just don't understand what's really going on. I explained to Abuelita in broken spanish that my body is always changing depending on my lifestyle, and that I use yoga to adapt to the needs of my day. I told her that you use yoga to become stronger, healthier, or more peaceful, and what you look like is not a judgement of how well you do it. She understood, and that was enough. But like I said, no body is a real yoga body. I'm sure a hundred people have already said this, but I just wanted to share the story the same as you. 🙂 Thanks for writing this!

anonymous Oct 28, 2013 11:20pm

Love this! It’s amazing how yoga has led me to a journey of self acceptance! I hate that people think the must have a perfect body just to practice yoga. I do ashtanga yoga almost everyday, I’m eating better, loving myself more, and my relationships flourish because of it. I’m not stick thin. I eat. Something I didn’t do near enough of when I was younger. I’ve gained a lot of weight due to a hormonal imbalance and I plan to lose it in a healthy way! It’s about the journey!

anonymous Oct 27, 2013 7:24pm

That is shocking behaviour yogi or not! Sounds like the poor thing has more issues than you do for sure!!! You are beautiful. Thank you for speaking your truth. There are so many landmines on our path through personal growth and I can't imagine having to deal with that very personal criticism. I honour you for that. xx

anonymous Oct 27, 2013 2:48pm

Wow! Insulting you was really bad enough, but to actually pinch you was really over-the-top-boundary-blasting. I'm happy to see you used it as a moment to investigate the Self–Jnana Yoga! My Guru, Swami Satchidananda used to say "I'm not the body, I'm not the mind, Immortal Self I am". In Big Yoga® we adapt Yoga so ANY Body can enjoy the profound benefits of Yoga. Thanks for your share–Meera PS, You look fabulous!

anonymous Oct 27, 2013 12:56pm

What an offensive title.

anonymous Oct 27, 2013 11:42am

I love the article, and you are more than gorgeous! Keep up the positivity and keep teaching, you have a beautiful soul!

anonymous Oct 27, 2013 11:27am

You look awesome. Hopefully the rest of her issues will work themselves out in your classes.

anonymous Oct 27, 2013 11:05am

I would love your strength – both physically and mentally. You are an inspiration to us all!

anonymous Oct 26, 2013 3:51pm

I think you're awesome!! I never have been able to understand how people can be so rude and blunt about something that is none of their business – your weight. I'll never forget a "friend" in college saying to me, "If you work out so much, how come you aren't skinnier?" I too am a very active person who is not a super duper skinny mini person, and I've made peace with the fact that people are going to have their opinions about my appearance, but it's how I feel about myself that matters most, more than anyone else. I'll all about the self acceptance and love, and I think that this post is amazing!

anonymous Oct 26, 2013 12:39am

Great article. Wanted to write a word of encouragement. I think the person who said those things to you violated you especially when she (or he ) pinched you. It is rude and it appears to me that she was jealous.

At the same time, this situation arose to actually show YOU how much you have grown and far you have come. You are adding value and helping others who struggle with eating disorders, question their worth, deal with internal negative dialogue. I say bravo to you to recognize that you can choose to dismiss the “lies” of the world and to carve out a path filled with healing and hope. Also it is normal to feel hurt or caught off guard when a stranger makes inappropriate comments or offers unsolicitated advice – but they only tell on themselves. 😉

anonymous Oct 25, 2013 10:38pm

I attended a yoga class that was taught by a woman who was "overweight." It is, to date, the best class I've ever had in the 10 years I've been practicing yoga. Rachel, you look strong and grounded. It would be an honor to take your class.

anonymous Oct 25, 2013 8:33pm

The same goes the other way. I am 5'4" 120 pounds. By no means rail thin. And people are always telling me to eat more, and then patronizing me for NOT eating pie at dessert. It would be lovely if people would just allow us to be ourselves, without judgment, criticism, and bossiness.

anonymous Oct 25, 2013 6:34pm

As a yoga teacher myself, I get judged as well. This lady was telling me that yoga doesn't really help for weight loss as the way I look, I told her that "you should focus on your own weight instead of mine, because my body is my own business and your body is your own business." She shut up and I have't seen her from yoga since.
I hope yoga is helping others to become less judgmental as we have no idea what other people gone through in their lives.

anonymous Oct 25, 2013 6:14am

I think YOU look gorgeous, and I found myself feeling sad for the student who made the comment. What are the odds that she is struggling with an eating disorder or body image issues herself? I hope she continues to take your classes; maybe she will learn what she really needs to learn (and it's not yoga poses) from you.

anonymous Oct 25, 2013 2:44am

First of you look great and I feel a bit sad for your student for focusing on something so unimportant.
As a yogini you might consider this whole thing as a life lesson and an opportunity to affirm and ground your beliefs and your own view of yourself. This student made you look at yourself from her (and let's face it all of western media obscessed society's) point of view. You then looked at yourself and saw the amazing and complex person that you are and you got to reaffirm the love you have for yourself and ground yourself properly. Each time we are tested we must do as you did and come out stronger and more centered from the experience.
Thank you for sharing your story it made me look at myself (and I like me!).

anonymous Oct 24, 2013 8:39pm

Mindblowing, really… I'm a 5'2, 200lb. Vinyasa Yoga Instructor and I'm glad to say I've never had outright criticism about my size before. I have, of course, had the seemingly positive but actually "neg" comments, i.e. "You're so good {non-verbalizing of "for someone your size/like you!")", but thankfully I can use those as an opportunity to reinforce the fact that yoga really is for Everybody and Every Body, as well as a much more faceted practice than just the physical asanas. Great article, and you look gorgeous, strong and healthy to me!!!

anonymous Oct 24, 2013 4:05pm

Yoga has NOTHING to do with being skinny!!!!!! Thank you for this beautifully written article. I have a 4 year old daughter built strong like me 🙂 I want her to have a yoga teacher like you! Keep up the good work sister.

anonymous Oct 24, 2013 12:20pm

Go,Rachel,go!!! Beautiful words reflect the beautiful spirit, well done!

anonymous Oct 24, 2013 10:56am

strength is beauty!! i loved this, and needed to hear this for myself 🙂 thank you!

anonymous Oct 24, 2013 6:44am

Rachel, imagine what that student says to themselves every day. Can you imagine walking around all day long, looking at and judging others, focusing on other people's bodies, putting all their energy into deflecting another person's soul, and instead telling them what they believe is lacking in their physical presence? As if, in the long run, any of that matters? Now, can you picture that student lying in bed at night counting every single morsel of food, every unit of energy they burned, feeling scared, smug, self conscious, angry, jealous, tortured, and unfortunately, empowered enough to say such terrible things to a kind, soulful, unselfish person like you? What would that be like? Aren't you so glad you're you, and not them? The only thing you can do besides counter someone's judgement with a judgement is bless them, wish them well, let them go along with their narrow minded comments. Because that's what they have, truly, a very narrow view of what the world and their presence in it should look like.

anonymous Oct 24, 2013 5:06am

Thanks so much for sharing. I have a very similar story to yours and would be devastated if that happened to me. I admire your strength. What is an appropriate response to such students?.

anonymous Oct 23, 2013 6:06pm

Honestly, the poor excuse I don't go to yoga is because I'm tired of seeing size 2 yoga instructors and feel I'd be judged. This article has helped me change my mind. Thank you!

anonymous Oct 23, 2013 5:08pm

great article, but surely every yoga body is a 'real' one ?

    anonymous Oct 23, 2013 5:37pm

    Yes, every yoga body is a real one.

anonymous Oct 23, 2013 1:52pm

Rachel – right on and thank you.

anonymous Oct 23, 2013 1:14pm

Yes, and it's sexy as hell

anonymous Oct 23, 2013 10:33am

You are a goddess. 🙂 You are obviously strong! Thanks for sharing this. I also don't have the typical yoga body and I'm kind of glad I don't! My teachers tell me that soft is good… it makes breathing and other bits of yoga a little easier!!

anonymous Oct 23, 2013 10:24am

While I agree with what you're saying in principle, I disagree with the title of your post. Why is your body any more "real" than yoga practitioners who are thin, lean, muscular, or any other body type? This whole "real girls are heavy" creates a whole us vs. them philosophy that attacks women who do not look like you. Perhaps you should say, "This is a perfectly acceptable yoga body", versus claiming that your body is more real than others who are thinner than you are.

anonymous Oct 23, 2013 9:35am

So glad to see someone address this. Been teaching a long time and have to say this has been a disturbing new trend. Thanks so much Rachel for the reality check.

anonymous Oct 23, 2013 9:06am

Lovely column. You touch on so many things I have noticed in yoga classes…. there's a palpable dislike, a disdain even, of anyone older, fatter, stiffer… And I am older, fatter and stiffer. Ironically, I perceive the judgmental Yogi-er than thou attitude right here on EJ all the time. It's hidden in very smug, self-satisfaction and wrapped in Namaste, but it is what it is… "I am just a little bit better than you." It's all very contradictory and disappointing. I always thought yoga was about self acceptance… without the need to elevate oneself above others.

anonymous Oct 23, 2013 9:01am

you are beautiful ! this article hit home as I too struggled with an ED . Yoga has helped me love and accept myself, physically and emotionally.

anonymous Oct 23, 2013 8:50am

you are beautiful !

anonymous Oct 22, 2013 9:17pm

your are moving emptiness within emptiness. The energy and alchemy. Looking deeper beyond space time and judgement on an absolute level. It is the beautiful bodhichitta that shines through the skin.

anonymous Oct 22, 2013 3:21pm

You totally rock, and personally, I'd never let that comment enter my mental, not worth even a thought, you are in your power and know it, that's all that matters…namaste!

anonymous Oct 22, 2013 3:21am

Firstly, what a stunning picture! You are obviously incredibly beautiful both inside and out =)

Thank you thank you thank you for your touching words. I woke up today overwhelmed with negativity but after reading this I feel ready to begin letting this go – little by little.

Thank you so much again =) xx

anonymous Oct 21, 2013 7:48pm

You look great!

anonymous Oct 21, 2013 7:23pm

If that photo on the beach is that of the author, she would need to do no such thing but to continue to keep on keeping on. Heck I may even take a yoga class from her myself. Double-heck, what someone else believed that she needed to lose weight, I'm thinking she has the physical qualities I'd like my significant other to possess. *cues song "Just The Way You Are" Both BIlly Joel's and Bruno Mars versions*

anonymous Oct 21, 2013 12:42pm

You look beautiful and stunning. Thank you for sharing this often missed message.

anonymous Oct 21, 2013 9:58am

I would think as a yoga teacher you are showing people to love and appreciate their body and to see it as a friend a lover and a soul mate. To move it in to positions just to be able to know it more. To work together to see just what you and the body can do… to get to know each other better…I think yoga always sort of intimidated me because of the whole judgment piece…
but perhaps if there were more teachers like you that were less judgmental, more people would come to see what it could do for them. Keep being real. We need you out in the world being you.

anonymous Oct 21, 2013 6:33am

You look great to me. Strong and healthy.

anonymous Oct 21, 2013 3:05am

You are absolutely GORGEOUS!!!! x

anonymous Oct 21, 2013 1:22am

Too bad she chose to see that and not how amazing you are! I too have stopped going to Yoga in the past because of “looks” I was given. I am a big girl, but surprisingly flexible. I absolutely love Yoga, but the looks and judgement were too much! Maybe I will brave it again someday!

anonymous Oct 21, 2013 12:51am

I'm a fat, sometimes mobility impaired, recent cancer survivor hippie grandmother. I know that yoga is for everyone. I also know that every human being on the planet will die. Many of us will have bodies which age, become ill, become disabled. The next time anyone suggests that only the young, thin, fit, so-called "perfect" bodied humans can teach or practice yoga, please gently remind them that no matter what they prefer to look like, they too will one day age and die.

anonymous Oct 19, 2013 11:39am

Ah wait, that was rachael Arabian

anonymous Oct 19, 2013 11:34am

I went to a few of your yoga classes while you were teaching in southern pines, @ Ft Bragg.

I could use more yoga and less jumping from planes!

anonymous Oct 18, 2013 9:15pm

New to teaching yoga my girlfriend too, we both feel the same looks and fear. I agree and working on not giving a crap;)

anonymous Oct 18, 2013 10:00am

This was beautifully written. I struggle with an eating disorder and sometimes what overwhelms me most is wanting so desperately to be constant in those moments when I truly feel the utmost love for myself (despite the outside influences). I think what has helped my anxiety most is the advice you gave towards the end. To let go of one negative idea/thought/feeling towards myself every day and replace it with a positive. This patience is what initially drew me to yoga. Where you take time in every moment to embrace a specific part of your body or acknowledge a personal strength. Even if that strength is smiling as you fall out of tree pose.

You're beautiful, that photo is beautiful, and I'm happy that you believe that as well.

anonymous Oct 18, 2013 9:11am

You are strong and beautiful. And I will add, even if you were overweight, (which you are not) you would still be beautiful and worthwhile and loveable. When did our self-worth become a number on a scale? Our collective shallowness in this country is frightening and dangerous. Even people who are not overweight are miserable, trying to maintain their weight and obsessing about their appearance. Why can't we love and accept who we are?

anonymous Oct 18, 2013 8:11am

Western people completely miss the point of the real Yoga. There is no body-type. Please visit and live in India before posting any more.

anonymous Oct 18, 2013 7:07am

You look beautiful and fit in your photograph, exactly the size you are meant to be!

The other day I was flipping through a yoga magazine at work and I was shocked to see that almost every picture was of someone white, young, unnaturally thin, and oh-so-blonde. I was disgusted at the lack of diversity, and disappointed that what is in my mind a beautiful, accepting, non-competitive, and gentle practice had been turned into an impossible ideal.

In addition, I am hearing more and more about yoga instructors who have dealt with eating disorders, often at the same time they are teaching, and who feel pressure to look a certain way because of their very status as a yoga instructor. That is very sad to me, because as a former dancer I am well aware of the prevalence of body issues in the dance world–and the accepting nature of yoga seemed to me the complete opposite of that–and was one of the things that drew me to yoga in the first place. As a beginning yoga student I was told that there is no such thing at being "good" or "bad" at yoga–one can be more advanced/knowledgeable in one's practice, and one should strive for correct alignment, weight distribution, etc. in order to protect one's body, but yoga can be adapted for any body successfully. Now I seem to be seeing the opposite of that message, and it saddens me to no end.

Thank you for your beautiful and affirming post!

anonymous Oct 18, 2013 4:11am

You do look amazing! How we treat other people directly reflects how we feel about ourselves – that women was so crushed by her own self-loathing that she had to reach out and criticise you. (Very unfairly because you're gorgeous). Her behaviour was very attacking, but it's about her and how she feels about herself, not so much you. What she did was very wrong and inexcusable, but in a funny way she deserves pity. Keep up the amazing work, and being beautiful outside and in x

anonymous Oct 17, 2013 5:14pm

Rachel it has been many years since I have seen you and you are as beautiful as ever! I was so glad to see your article posted by one of my fitness friends and see you are doing so well!

    anonymous Oct 22, 2013 2:45pm

    Oh my goodness Patty!!! it has been years but so lovely and wonderful to read your words! I hope that life is wonderful with you and if you would like to re-connect, my email is [email protected]!! in love 😉

anonymous Oct 17, 2013 4:01pm

Great read and I agree with loving yourself for who you are. Although, I do have to mention that I wish the title was different. It's wonderful to accept your body no matter what, but phrases saying what "real bodies" look like (regardless if it's more muscular, skinny, large, etc) just perpetuates sizest attitudes.

    anonymous Oct 19, 2013 9:28am

    I feel that the title did what all great headlines do, and that is reeling in readers/piquing interest. In my humble opinion, I do not feel that Rachel is being a sizest, but rather eliciting compassion from her readers and shining Light on the ignorance of such statements. This post was eloquently written, and speaks… for all sizes.

    Love and Auralite blessings to you! <3

    anonymous Oct 22, 2013 2:44pm

    I completely understand and I am sorry for this, I actually did not even come up with the title name, so i completely understand. Thank you for your words, in love 🙂

anonymous Oct 17, 2013 3:22pm

This is beautifully written and made me cry. I too struggle with a eating disorder. I started to recover with yoga but then during class when I looked in the mirror and started to compare myself to underweight women in class I stopped going. I’m going to try to change one negative thought, about my body, with a positive thought each day.

anonymous Oct 16, 2013 10:04pm

I am a typical tiny yoga teacher and I LOVED being pregnant because for the first (and only) time in my life, I had curves! Go girl. And remember that the typical tiny's need your message as much as anyone!! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    anonymous Oct 22, 2013 2:43pm

    Thank you so much for your positivity! Who cares what we look like right 🙂 yoga is something within us all, externally nothing really matters 🙂 in lvoe

anonymous Oct 16, 2013 5:14pm

You look beautiful, namaste.

anonymous Oct 16, 2013 4:59pm

Holy shit. If that’s you in the top picture, then tell that student to shut it and go in with your bad self. Gorgeous!! 🙂

anonymous Oct 16, 2013 4:53pm

“Damn, I love you self, I have never met anyone like you. You are exciting, fun, happy, and I truly see you, how honored I am to know myself.”

Words to live by!! Thank you Rachel! You embody everything that is beautiful!

anonymous Oct 16, 2013 11:33am

Rachel it was lovely meeting you yesterday at Poor Richards. After talking to you I remembered and incident in my life that I had to say reminded me of your article. I was out to lunch with a great friend who had an eating disorder. She fought to stay slim…by throwing up. As we ate lunch she says to me, "I don't understand why you are so happy but you are FAT." I looked at her kind of taken back… "yea I was overweight but I exercised daily" . I said to her the following…" Robin, I love myself and yea I am fat but by loving me its ok. I then proceeded to ask her if she loved herself. She burst out crying …it was so sad. This woman is beautiful from the inside out and stunning on the outside but some how I felt she didn't love her inner being. That was a turning point in my life. My husband always says I have a strong sense of self and don't really care what others think of me as long as I know I am kind and working toward being my best person, spiritually, physically and mentally. By accepting myself the good and the bad…I walk happily in my being. Thank you for being such and inspiration and you rock climb sister.. If you ever get back to the Springs, please look me up..

Carm OSullivan

    anonymous Oct 22, 2013 2:41pm

    Dear Carm, it was so lovely meeting you as well! Thank you for this story and your words! In love 🙂

anonymous Oct 16, 2013 6:20am

Amazing article. I am a voluptuous size 14 yogini, yoga teacher, and dancer. I have definitely felt a need to prove myself when I go to a training and see all those super-svelte yogis. But, I have a long-time daily yoga practice, dance several times per week, do really physical farm work during the warmer months…and this is the body I happen to have. And actually, I often feel like folks love to come to my class because I am super strong, incredibly flexible, vibrant, AND look like them. And you look incredible!

anonymous Oct 16, 2013 4:57am

I think that photo is beautiful! Look how muscular and fit you are! I am skinny, and bony, and not nearly as muscular and healthy looking. But I love me too! This is a beautiful and inspiring post.

anonymous Oct 15, 2013 11:52pm

Really sorry to hear that someone would feel entitled enough to dish that out to you/to anyone; unsolicited criticism and in such a sacred environment! Thank you for sharing your process and your strength of spirit – this is such a gift you have given to us all. Your body looks absolutely delish in this picture; lean, toned, strong, tan and felixible. !

anonymous Oct 15, 2013 11:21pm

Thank you! Thank you! From the bottom of my heart, You are much more patient and forgiving than I am. I don't think I would have been able to keep my cool.

anonymous Oct 15, 2013 10:54pm

Rachel you look great! probably the people saying otherwise have a problem with their own self image. When my friends complain about their bodies, I say I am grateful my body works well, heals itself, I can eat pretty much anything & digest it, my arms, legs, etc all works, and I take good care of my body so it takes care of me. The rest is not so important. I remember that other people pray for what I have. My reply would be "I'm sorry you feel that way" & walk away, if it's someone else's shite, don't accept it as yours. Peace.

anonymous Oct 15, 2013 7:31pm

Hi Rachel: I’ll just echo what almost everyone else has already said. You’re beautiful and don’t let anyone who doesn’t think so get you down. The woman had a lot of nerve slamming you then saying “Namaste” afterwards. Obviously she has no idea what the word really means. If she did? She’d never have said it. Especially not after such a mean-spirited slam. Really nothing sadder than the sound of a small mind slamming shut. And hers slammed shut pretty loudly. Just sayin.

anonymous Oct 15, 2013 4:57pm

I absolutely love you. I see myself in you… almost. Still digging to connect with true, honest, complete self-love. Peace and blessings to you for speaking up and sharing your beauty. You are gorgeous!!!!!!!

anonymous Oct 15, 2013 7:43am

Rachel! Badass piece! I totally get it and I totally agree! I am also a yoga teacher that doesn't 'fit' the standard look for any kind. I am a 6 foot tall former basketball player, I am not an itty bitty super flexible yogini. But that is not what yoga is about. Your piece is truly inspiring! Keep on rocking!

anonymous Oct 15, 2013 1:07am

We have to learn to love, really love ourself for who we are and not for who society wants us to be. Wonderful article. Thanks Rachel. I am an Elephant Journal Fanatic. Keep up the good work.

    anonymous Oct 22, 2013 2:39pm

    Thank you so much for your positive words and encouragement! In light 🙂

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 5:41pm

First off, you look strong as hell. Secondly, the fact that she not only said that but that she PINCHED you shows she was never taught manners.

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 5:17pm

When I hear a story like that I think how sad. That person making the comment to you is revealing something about how they see themselves. They are obviously not happy with themselves. You however can feel confident that your lifestyle works for you. Congratulations !

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 3:58pm

Nice…that student said what many think, but few have the nerve to say. Bless that ignorance….I teach yoga and pilates. ten yrs ago, i thought i wld always stay slim. Now, im a skilled, super groovy experienced yogini, yoga teacher and healer. There is magic in my classes. and Im overweight. (hypothyroid, menopause,,etc). Thanks to all my students who respect my gifts, and allow me without judgements. PS your pic is gorgeous

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 2:23pm

This is a refreshing way to look at self, rather then, the all too often "I'm not good enough". By the way, you have a beautiful body, and who ever said you needed to lose weight is crazy.

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 2:16pm

LOL. Next time, ask the person if they've seen BKS Iyengar's man-boobs recently. Then confidently assure them that you're fully qualified to do what they're paying you for – guide them through a yoga practice – regardless of the shape of your body.

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 2:04pm

Your article makes a very good point, but I have to object to your use of the word REAL. This is what YOUR Yoga body looks like. Other's have different body types – due to genetics, diet, life-style, etc. All bodies are "REAL, unless they've been changed by surgery.

Using the word REAL seems to be a common way to discredit or dismiss those who don't look, dress, eat ("REAL food for REAL people), or act like the average American. Maybe it's a red state/blue state thing (remember the Moral Majority). Everyone is REAL. There's no need to use the word to support your position or accentuate differences. I think that In order to demand respect we must in turn give respect.

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 12:38pm

Perfect, accurate and true as I sit her crying because you totally understand – that is a very special quality. Wishing you well in all that you do xxx

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 12:18pm

Damn Rachel I think you look rockin' hot girl ! Was this chick a some kind of skin and bones anorexic ? Personally I just love girls that are muscular and toned and you definitely got that going on, man those curves of yours wow ! Keep killing it and preaching the word !

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 11:29am

Rachel, thanks for sharing your story. The student stepped out of bounds when she made comments about your body (and missed the essence of the class, btw.) It is NOT OK to comment on other people's bodies. The student's comments were a reflection of herself and not you. I would have steered the conversation to yoga and the class that just ended, told her to keep her hands off of my body and mumbled GFY. Keep up the good work. We all benefit from yoga teachers like you. Namaste.

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 10:11am

Honestly the first think I thought when I looked at the picture at the top was "She looks strong", and then I read the post. You don't just look strong – you are strong, thank you for sharing!

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 9:19am

Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing. BTW, I think you look strong and beautiful. Your body can probably accomplish a lot more than "skinny" can.

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 9:14am

I agree with your article! I once had a student ask me when I was due. I replied '3 years ago'. After my son was born I was required to take certain medications that put weight on my body. I never thought of myself as a large person, but I guess some people do. I've always been a curvy woman. I'm very aware of it. I struggled with weight and lost about 50 pounds after coming to yoga. I still did not look like a yoga pixie.

Thank you for bringing this subject to light. Just because some teachers have a few extra on their curves does not make them any less of a passionate yoga guide.

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 8:42am

One of the best posts I have ever seen on this site, Rachel. THANK YOU! I am a "certified yoga instructor" who struggles with actually pursuing a teaching career because I don't have the typical "yoga body". I am not fat, but I feel that way a lot of the time – tall, big boobs, big hip….I face this day feeling a little less self-conscious about my curvy body, THANK YOU!

    anonymous Oct 22, 2013 2:37pm

    Dear Nicole, sister I hear you but just stay strong and in love! show your heart and your body doesn't matter! In light and love 😉

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 8:09am

1. You rock! You look f*&^% amazing!
2. You inspire me.
3. Someday soon, I hope i too can authentically accept the way I look on the outside and embrace it.
4. Keep on going.

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 6:07am

You have an awesome body I feel sad for that person they obviously have body issues that they need to project onto you.

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 6:06am

Baffled by this whole story. I know it will seem like I’m missing the point, but you have a fantastic body. Just saying.

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 3:51am

"I am strong, flexible, knowledgeable and want to help people and so if that isn’t enough, then I will quit openly." YES YES YES.

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 3:00am

Dear Rachel thank you for sharing – and just to make it clear, you should in no way accept that kind of behavoiur from anyone let alone a complete stranger… It was a gross overstepping of your personal boundries, and whoever told you this, clearly has not come to terms with their own imperfections, which we all have, Totally unacceptable – but hey, you look great!!!

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 12:21am

Thank you sooooo much…I needed this today and everyday actually. I will forward this to a lot of places…hopefully it'll change some misconception of peeps who have maybe never said anything but thought of it….don't we all?!

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 12:00am

I was hoping you'd say GFY to this person. You look pretty swell.

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 11:26pm

Well, that person is blind. Being superficial here. But, wow, what a body!!!! Awesome.

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 10:26pm

Thank You! I'm a husky yoga instructor.

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 9:11pm

To all the yoga teachers – please know that many of us come to yoga for its true purpose of preparing the body and mind for meditation. And fir it's many physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits. It is not about the Western culture's bastardization of it into a "gym bunny" mentality. I want a teacher who is knowledgeable, dedicated, encouraging, and accepting of us (as students) where we are. Size does not matter, nor age – I've had excellent older teachers who could not do certain poses but were spectacular at helping students optimize that same pies for their students. No judgment, only love should be flowing in a yoga class! So sorry that rude student felt she had a right to lecture you, such ego involvement there. You are perfect as you are, as we all are. As for me: progress, not perfection – and acceptance.

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 9:08pm

This is just what I needed to read when I read it. Thank you for being strong enough to be vulnerable with your audience.

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 8:49pm

oh Rachel! I absolutely LOVED this article and it is so important that this was said and should continue to be said…I am exactly the same ~ a new yoga teacher, a recovered ED and "bigger than average", healthy American woman ~ It feels so comforting to know there are strong women like you out there breaking boundaries and rewriting messages….I'm so sorry someone in your class felt so unsure about their own idea of what strength and beauty is that they had to take it out on you; shame on them. You are GORGEOUS! Keep shining!

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 7:38pm

You look amazing, beautiful and strong. We are not all meant to look the same and we certainly should not be expected to adhere to a certain idea of what healthy is.

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 7:27pm

btw, 'real yoga', is not about the body at all. So, it doesn't matter what the 'body' looks like. It's all so much more than just that limited physical perimeter.

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 6:37pm

There's so much I could say….but I will begin with "thank you" for your article/words/picture. Thank you. I practiced yoga for years until I went through an extended illness. I also have ED in my past and have deeply dealt with myself being so very hard UN-evolved soul they were!!!" And that's a hard one to let go of. On the other hand, really tough situations come up to give us opportunities to really practice what we're living and in this instance they gave you the opportunity to practice "self-Love" and a renewed commitment to accepting yourself, your strength and yes! your beauty.
I continue to work on that for myself so its no small wonder that I came across this writing and I am grateful. I am currently so thin from my illness that it is just my deep desire to get stronger again so that I may practice yoga again and its made me treasure those beautiful women that glow with health and radiance. Thanks again for your writing. Blessings to you.

    anonymous Oct 22, 2013 2:34pm

    Thank you so much for your words. Best of wishes to your healing! In light 🙂

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 6:04pm

The person who made that comment stated a lot about herself and absolutely nothing about you. Hopefully in time she will cultivate kindness. Until then, block the shit out of her – nobody needs that toxicity in their lives – especially not someone who has struggled with eating disorders in the past. It would be like a recovered heroin addict chatting with a drug dealer. Dangerous.

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 4:46pm

Rachel, thank you for your words. It is incredibly reassuring to read the reaction of a woman who has also struggled with an eating disorder. This may be terribly presumptuous, but it seems like you have also found (regardless of the all the other STUFF that drives a person to form the kind of disordered obsession and its associated compulsions that is an eating disorder) that the principles inherent to living with an eating disorder were and are incongruent with the way you want to personally experience and want to encourage others to experience LIFE. If I understood you correctly, you also believe that life is about living with and within your self- including your body. It has been my experience that an eating disorder is falling into a pattern of objectifying yourself in a way that ROBS you of the time, energy, and mental space to get to explore, invent and know your own self. In my experience, yoga is suppose to be the antithesis of an eating disorder; in yoga practice you detach from preconceived judgments; in yoga practice you are provided an opportunity to explore yourself, spend time with yourself, and to lean in to your own corners and limits. It makes me really sad to think about the integral role yoga played in my recovery and how uncomfortable I am going to a yoga studio now. I am grateful to write that after reading your article, I was able to really dig into why it is that I have stopped practicing and I think I have uncovered a lot. Thanks for encouraging me to get back in touch with me – today, my commitment to my recovery and recommitment in some ways, was inspired by you.

    anonymous Oct 22, 2013 2:31pm

    Wow what wonderful words! Thank you for this message! In light

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 4:38pm

Rachel Priest – if that's you in the picture, this is my opinion I would like to share with you: WOW!!! What a beautiful body!!! Never mind your insightful and beautiful message of acceptance and self-love. Awesome!!!

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 2:14pm

First off good for you!
Second i dont want to go to a yoga teacher that is not in shape, sorry but thats the truth, i want to be inspired, i know a lot of yoga teachers that dont even practice, practice what u teach.
Third being fat is not Healthy period.
Fourth if u have an eating issues then learn how to eat properly and be healthy
I also feel the same for teachers that are way too skinny as well

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 11:59am

That was nice. Thanks : )

I love the transformational aspect of yoga and an active lifestyle, and it has been my experience that if you stay with it, everything that is not the natural, healthy you will fall away on its own.
Once that’s done, ‘all’ that’s left is the real You, so you’d better love and accept it and be gentle with it….

Some of these people just can’t help fast-forwarding to the time that You is revealed, and imposing their vision of that You on others. They probably mean no harm, and fail to consider how their projections can judge and thus hurt another. Love them! That’s the real yoga, not buffing up this temporary physical envelope. : )

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 11:44am

You are beautiful <3 Inside and out.

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 10:45am

I've heard from fairly good friends and family that I don't look like " a real Yogi….you know….",
Huh? At 5'5" and 128 lbs and toned, long muscles I think I look exactly like a "real Yogi"…lol….or whatever else I happen to be that day. Because I look like me. Healthy. Happy.
Those comments stung for a long time, but I have since realized that my body functions perfectly and I am grateful for this.
I will continue my Yoga practice, my Yoga teaching and my quest for health, and this is exactly what a Yogi looks like.
Great artice. Good for you for rising above the mud…continue to blossom in the sun!

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 9:51am

Ah, the contortion (or perversion) of the ancient practice of yoga into American pop culture strikes again. I wonder if anyone ever told Sri Pattabhi Jois that his body did not look yoga-ish enough. We all see bodies of every type practicing every time we go to the studio. Powerful, amazing bodies and souls of every shape, size, gender. My body was flabby, weak and pain ridden when I got on the mat for the first time. It's less flabby, stronger and I experience far less pain now. From the outside, my body may not impress anyone. I am sure there are 50yr old men with much more impressive physiques. Compared to the body I started with, I am Adonis. But no one is impressed with that except me. It's truly an inside job. As for what I see when I look at my fellow yogis, I am far more impressed by the 60 something woman who spent most of the first year in child's pose and slouchy warrior 2 who now holds side plank, has a a sharp full expression in warrior 2 with a straight spine and a thigh parallel to the ground than I am with the lulu clad 20 something with the dramatic flourish on each transition even if her skinny body is ever so flexible.

    anonymous Oct 13, 2013 10:41am

    This is so true!!! how amazing!! In love 🙂

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 8:18am

A fellow yoga teacher had a similar experience with a new student, all I can say is those students need more yoga! It amazes me that people can be so rude. I have added a few extra pounds in the last 6 months and am struggling to lose it, but it doesn't make me less of a yoga teacher, or change the amount of wisdom I have accumulated through all my years of practice and study.
Thanks to yoga I accept myself as I am and continue to practice to be all I can be. For me, no one else. Thank you for a wonderful article. And yes, you look amazing!

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 6:44am

As someone with a dear friend who is a larger yoga teacher, I'm happy to see she's not alone and I was wondering how you (or anyone else for that matter) feel about how clearly obvious the disrespect of your weight was followed with "Namaste." It underscores an issue of cultural appropriation of Eastern practices by a privileged Western mindset. Of course, I may be inferring too much from that first line, but it is funny that someone is punctuating such a hurtful comment like that.

Whether one is a self-described Buddhist in expensive clothes railing against materialism while ignoring the homeless man to her left, or a white guy with a Ganesha tattoo being puzzled when his Indian delivery man smiles and says "that's my god, too," there is a sad fashion aspect that blinds people to the symbols and practices they appropriate. Normally, I find these people easy to dismiss, and I'm glad to see you've the spiritual tenacity to keep comments like that from stopping you.

You're a wonder, and to the yoga teachers and spiritual people of all shapes and sizes, have a ball. Do what makes you who you are and have a sincere chuckle that people who obsessively classify what we love may never see the point of it.

    anonymous Oct 13, 2013 8:44am

    These Words are so true! Thank you so much for your support! in love 🙂

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 5:18am


Thank you for posting this article. I look a lot like you, except for…you know…the muscles. Lately, I’ve been going through bouts of body hatred when people hear I practice and then look at my tummy or thighs. Or when I go on Instagram and every girl in America showing off their inverted bodies has the figure of my little brother. (Full disclosure: I don’t actually have a little brother.)

I’m so glad you had the strength to shake of the comments of this misinformed student. Your words are a great reminder that I can carry with me to practice today. We are beautiful just as we are.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 11:46pm

I like the article but disagree with the title…There is no one 'real yoga body' To say that a curvy shape is more of a real yoga body than a slim shape is using the same reasoning that was used against you. Anyone who does yoga has a real yoga body. But good for you for keeping your cool with the student and I think you look great, very powerful.

    anonymous Oct 13, 2013 10:20am

    Note: Elephant Journal titled the article. The author, Rachel Priest, submitted the article without a title.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 11:23pm

What an a-hole to tell you that. The pic shows an incredible looking and very nice body. Good article.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 9:51pm

You're RIGHT…you look like a real, strong woman…and I'm happy you posted this, because my body looks much like yours and I was told a similar thing as a woman training for Ironman. What people don't understand is that every body is different, and that every body responds to exercise, nutrition and stress, differently. Way to be strong and not let the comments get to you. They are more about this woman than you. I knew I loved myself when I was dating a ripped, MMA fighter who had the audacity to call me fat. I laughed at him and told him I was quite happy with myself and ended it. I never felt better, frankly! Here's to the beauty of being HUMAN!

    anonymous Oct 13, 2013 8:42am

    O My Gosh How amazing Tristen!!! And congratulations on the Ironman, that is something I have always wanted to do! What an amazing story! Keep Rocking 🙂 IN love

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 9:44pm

I love the concept of someone coming to a class then telling the teacher how things should be.

If they are that wise then why aren't too busy teaching to waste time picking faults in others.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 9:20pm

Hey, my husband saw the pic and thought it was a great shot of me. I'm also a yoga teacher. I think having breasts and being fat are too different things.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 8:44pm

I have always liked yoga for the very reason that it is for everyone, for every shape and size does not matter, and doing the best you can. Connecting mind, body and soul. I am glad this person did not crush you. This is a beautiful post and good point. Thank you for sharing. It has given me food for thought.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 8:39pm

If that's you in the photo at the top, you have a stunning body.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 7:54pm

Wow, just WOW! You are totally inspiring. Strong and flexible. Inside AND out.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 7:46pm

Rachel, you look beautiful. Taking a moment to be uncharitable and not loving, your student needed to be bitch-slapped right across the face for saying something that wrong, stupid, and cruel. It's hard not taking something like that to heart, especially when it comes out of the blue. But you're on the right path and doing exactly what you need to do. Your student will have to come to terms with her own issues.

On THAT note…Namaste 🙂

    anonymous Oct 13, 2013 8:39am

    Rafeal! THank you so much for your words and kindness!!! In love 🙂

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 7:38pm

My first experience with yoga was with a teacher who was not skinny. She was an excellent teacher and clearly trained to do yoga. It was good for me to see that being healthy does not mean being super skinny. And how rude for someone not only to make that comment but to pinch you! That is totally out of line.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 7:34pm

I can't tell you how long I delayed starting my practice due to walking into a class and seeing a tiny teacher, what could they teach me? How could they relate to me? If I'd of seen a strong, flexible, real, role model I might of found bravery way sooner. What a gift your students have in a strong, muscled, joyfull teacher.

    anonymous Oct 13, 2013 8:38am

    Dear Aussie! Thank you so much for your kind words! And you will find the courage! Everyone has something wonderful to teach 🙂 IN love

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 7:28pm

Kudos for your honesty and encouragement! LOVE!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 7:21pm

It can be difficult, but when you realize that some critical comments that others make are really more about them than about you, it can be much easier to not take it on as your own baggage. Extremely self critical people often seem to think that everyone else should be as self critical, weight obsessed as they are and are often the people that make such judgemental, harsh and untrue comments. I can appreciate how caught off guard you must have been, being in a yoga environment – supposedly promoting loving kindness of self and of others, and also, rightfully caught off guard, because you look great! One can only hope that this person will one day be able to heal from their own negative beliefs which are potentially causing themself and others pain.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 6:26pm

F…Judgment. Love yourself as you are…..beautiful, strong healthy and fit.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 6:25pm

You have no idea how timely this article is for my life. I am also a yoga teacher and not skinny and just this morning I was feeling that sad feeling all related to my body image and than boom someone posted this to me tonight. I repeated the line you told me to say and I feel empowered by it. Thank you soooooooooooo much for having the courage to write this and for being a beautiful body and more importantly a beautiful soul.

    anonymous Oct 13, 2013 8:36am

    Kinneret!! I am so happy that this has helped you and came to you in such a timely manner! All my love and stay strong and beautiful! In love 🙂

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 6:22pm

F that person. You are strong and real and GORGEOUS!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 6:14pm

To Everyone who has left a post and comment and to those who haven't, Thank you so much for all of your loving words and support. I am so honored to be surrounded with so much love and support, it is such a blessing! I am so happy that this has touched so many people! I just hope that we can all celebrate every part of ourselves no matter what size we are or whatever else we may struggle with in self acceptance! We need more love to be spread around the world and this has been a wonderful way to start! We are all real people no matter size and shape because we are all born with certain genes and body types! Celebrate it and be thankful to those who are different than you!
In light and love,

Rachel Priest

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:39pm

Rachel, you're beautiful and gorgeous! Don't let anyone tell you differently (especially yourself!) . And teaching is a gift and the fact you can do that and touch most lives in a positive manner means even more than the physical beauty and grace you carry! I hope that student can realize her mistake and learn from it. Nevertheless, keep going strong! If I'm ever in SC, I'd be honored to take your class!

    anonymous Oct 13, 2013 8:35am

    Thank you so much Ian for your words! I truly appreciate it and yes! I would love to see you in SC! IN love 🙂

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:33pm

That's you in the picture above? You said you look "pretty good." Really? You look DAMN GOOD! Thank you for your positivity!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:21pm

wow. hahah. what a joik that student was. For the record.. I think you look strong and sexy and voluptuous… you are no waif but you are AWESOME and firm and toned and rocking that pose, YO … some people are just Aholes. fagedaboudit. I like you just how you are and you are a bad ass yoga teacher…

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:18pm

When I moved to California (LA area) I looked for a place to continue and expand my Yoga practice. I was approximately a size 18 at the time and had been studying Yoga on my own with the aid of DVDs and knew what I was doing. I visited several "studios" where I was subjected to stares, giggles, rude comments and open hostility. The last straw came when an "instructor" (a size 2 bleached blonde about 19 years old) suggested I needed to lose at least 20lbs before returning to the studio. After that, I returned to my solitary practice.

    anonymous Oct 13, 2013 8:34am

    Dear Ruth, Wow I am so sorry that happened to you! I hope that this doesn't deter you from continuing your practice as you are the only person that truly matters to take care of through your practice. I hope to come out to LA at some point and bring my practice there! Hope to see you then! In love 🙂

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 4:54pm

Phenomenal! Everything about this! Many thanks. xo

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 4:45pm

That comment was so stupid. Your body is AWESOME!! LOVE IT!! So so so freak'n sexy, that's a PERFECT BODY! I know this is a personal issue but those kind of comments are just wrong. Love the elephant journal so much! cheers!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 4:32pm

There are times as a teacher that we all feel like maybe we don't have enough to offer and we question ourselves. That person's inability to respect student/ teacher boundaries must be so painful. For both of you! Sorry you had to endure that! I might have cried.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 3:07pm

Thanks so much for writing this article and sharing your experience. I have shared it and hope everyone-especially anyone trying to live up to unrealistic standards, get to read this. Thanks you for reminding us about priorities in life. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL inside and out!
Love and Light,

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 2:21pm

YES! This is exactly what I needed to hear, all the way in Denver, CO. This is wonderfully inspiring, and I know this is kind of angry/hateful, but fuck that woman. I can't believe that another woman would be so rude about an area of female life that is so, SO sensitive. Something like that can destroy your day. When we think of ourselves, it's so hard to focus on the positive, no matter how many affirmations you've received. But we always focus on the one negative thing we've heard, even if it's just that one thing. I hope that woman reads this, and realizes how mean she was. I think your body and your spirit is beautiful. You are a wonderful example for me to look up to. Again, thank you so much for sharing.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 6:09pm

    Thank you so much for this note Stephanie! I so appreciate it! And funny Enough, I am currently in Denver CO!!! I came here on a road trip for a week with a friend! if you see someone doing yoga on the mountains, it could be me so come say hi! In love 🙂

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 1:36pm

Beautiful! Such truth! Thank you!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 1:16pm

I appreciate your strength, bravery, beauty, vulnerability, honesty and self worth. You inspire me! Thank you for being your wonderful self!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 1:03pm

As a jucier-bodied yoga teacher, this has happened to me TWICE from students, and once from a fellow teacher. It is absolutely flooring, to be sure. Thank you for your words & your bold willingness to share. One note of awareness: I wish we could stop using the term "real body". As an example, I used to work with models & some supermodels. I can tell you, that for many of them, that is just how they came into this world, it's genetics, and they also experience body shaming because of how they look. There are healthy thin bodies, and unhealthy thin bodies, there are healthy bigger bodies and unhealthy bigger bodies & EVERYTHING in-between. The focus should NEVER be on the size or what we "look like", rather on our health, how we feel & move. The culture of shaming works BOTH ways when we externalize. If you have a body, it's real, and it's a real blessing. Let's stop shaming based on one look or another, and keep working for acceptance & support on ALL levels.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 1:02pm

Holy crap, you are GORGEOUS – I can only imagine that someone looking at you and seeing something that needed to change was looking at her own fears and programming instead. You are so strong, so present, so THERE in your photo – I love every curve, every strand of hair, every muscle cut line (and you got plenty of those, woohoo!) I do not buy the philosophy of transcendence and "elimination" as a spiritual path, and I don't buy it physically either – that to be "better", to get "higher", we must be less. Less big, less angry, less exuberant, less curvy, less colorful. Your presence flows out from your physical self and from your words, and I will tell you point blank that I automatically trust you and would engage with you as a yoga teacher and a human being BECAUSE you have so much presence. Tiny, immaculate, prim, self-righteous yoga teachers are a lot of why I've avoided ever going to yoga – your class, I'd be in every time. I sure wish you lived on my coast, but I know you must have a bunch of people who love you as much as I would if I could. I send love and compassion to your critic and to you – keep bringing that luscious body and soul to everything you do!

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 4:58pm

    " I do not buy the philosophy of transcendence and "elimination" as a spiritual path, and I don't buy it physically either – that to be "better", to get "higher", we must be less. Less big, less angry, less exuberant, less curvy, less colorful. "

    Me, either … I've started to read J. Krishnamurti … he had a big point about being, starting … working with where you are and what you've got.

    It's not complacency … and can embody a transcendence (and its quest) all its own …

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 6:07pm

    Thank you so much for your support this means so much! And your words are so true thank you so much for everything that you have said! It is such an encouragement!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 12:42pm

WOW! Thanks for the vulnerable place you wrote from. I find myself disheartened at time at the level of superficiality that still permeates in our yoga world. The truth is that it is not a safe haven. Judgment, pettiness, lies, anger all still exist as they are real human emotions/actions. It just calls us it a higher place of really coming into a full relationship of self-love, the practice of not letting others thoughts or feelings derail us. Such hard work. Hard work for me every day.

I recently had a baby, and I find myself struggling with what people may think of my body as their yoga teacher. I feel and hear everything you say. Thanks so much for this amazing blog.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 12:39pm

I really appreciate this article and completely agree with your message. You are strong and beautiful and confident, and your words are extremely inspiring.

My one issue is with the title. I'm on a personal campaign to try to remove the term "real women" or in this case, " a real yoga body" from our vernacular. Yes, you definitely have a real yoga body (and if I may say so, an extremely beautiful one), but so does the woman who is a size zero. It drives me nuts when people somehow seem to think it is okay to remove an entire group from the classification of "real women". I am a size 00, and I am real also. I have insecurities and feel self-consious just like everyone else. Again, I wholeheartedly agree with the message and presentation of this article, and believe we should have full acceptance of our bodies regardless of size/shape/etc. Let's just make sure that in a message that preaches acceptance of all body types, we are actually accepting of all body types.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 1:57pm

    I think this is a great comment. EVERYONE who is a decent person is a "real woman" (well, if you are a woman LOL!) Size 00 or size 20, there shouldn't be "lines" or "standards" that someone needs to pass, because if there are ANY such lines, then it is all just subjective. The scary thing to me is that the very fact that Rachel even THOUGHT FOR A SECOND about the insecurities she had in reaction to this idiotic student's comment to her shows how deeply ingrained this all is. I hope her immediate reaction could have been to laugh in this person's face and respond "Why would you say such a stupid thing, are you completely ignorant?" And if anyone pinched my side suggesting I need to lose weight, I would smack them silly!

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 6:05pm

    Thank you so much for your perspective and yes you are so right! I didn't mean to come off badly with the title "real" we are all real and I meant no harm! I just hope people can love themselves and accept themselves at any size and know that they are already real, perfect and never need to change! In love 🙂

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 12:36pm

Love this. I keep thinking "oh I should get back into yoga when I lose a few more lbs and can look like some of the other girls". blah blah. You look BEAUTIFUL and I'm so excited to do a yoga class tomorrow…and one in my own front yard today. Thank you! Namaste! 🙂

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 12:21pm

Yoga has A LOT of dogma around it, mostly centred around the RIGHT way.

When I first saw the pic that leads the story I just thought "what a great looking woman." Vibrant and alive are works that come to mind.
Thank you for sharing!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 12:12pm

I don't even know what I want to say here, other than I am sick and tired of people feeling they should be able to judge others and throw their opinions out freely without regard to what damage and hurt they may actually be causing. I'm sorry that you had to experience that, I'm sorry that anybody does. I'm sick of being judged for what I look like, for who I am, for what choices I make in life. I'd like to know how you overcame your eating disorder, I struggle with this daily.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 6:03pm

    Dear Jason! I am sick of it too, which is why I am starting to making a stand against this! Please stay strong in your journey because you are already perfect the way you are! in love 🙂

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 12:06pm

I believe that yoga practice is not about devotion to superficial values that result in vanity or poor self-esteem, but to connect to my peace and joy and hopefully, share a bit of it with others. The physical is part of the journey, not the end. Your poor student needs, obviously, more time spent with an empathetic teacher like yourself. She is awfully luck to have you. Namaste. Your light shines bright to me!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 12:00pm

Makes no sense at all.

Body type that would have been totally acceptable teaching aerobics 30 years ago.
Or teaching Zumba today …

Did that student mainline exposure to membership in an upscale or wannabe East Coast yoga studio and/or Yoga Journal ads?

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 11:58am

Ah Rachel, you have lovely beautiful body! You look amazing n I would start to date you tomorrow! 🙂 Curves on a woman are great!! Toned healthy body sooo much better than skinny no shape body. Some people are just sad creatures who enjoying inflicting pain on others. Peace Love n Good Food!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 11:57am

From one curvy, voluptuous and fabulous yoga teacher to another….Thank You!! I'm sorry someone felt the need to project their own insecurities on you, but what a wonderful lesson came from it for us all!!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 11:57am

I,m standing right next to ya, sister. I too am sturdy, strong, happy, 60, and not skinny or young. I know the judgment is out there, thanks for sharing the real thoughts that come with this, cuz in the long run, this is for everyone, hugs,

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 11:40am

You are AMAING and the person who told you that you were deserved a clip aroudn the ear. That is no way to talk to ANYONE!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 11:30am

You look fab, you are fab. Keep Rockin your yoga for your unique self… Namaste 🙂

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 11:15am

Awesome! What a great and insightful post. (I can't believe she pinched you! Really?!!).

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 11:05am

Thanks for sharing this. Learning to trust your own knowledge of yourself, rather than going along with someone else's bullshit, isn't always easy, but is always always worth it. Am so grateful tonight for this reminder that we can choose what we carry with us. Keep on being awesome.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 10:39am

You look great, I have been there, where a stranger has made me question myself and my capabilities. It seems like this has made you stronger! Thanks for the inspiration!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 10:33am

Shine on! Thank you for the post.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 10:29am

Thanks for sharing. We also need to remember that people like that student must be very unhappy and insecure with themselves to say such things. The problem is hers, not yours.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 10:28am

That is exactly why I started Strangely enough not too many people seem to dare show how yoga really looks like.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 6:00pm

    I so agree! Thank you! In love 🙂

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 9:48am

I just wanted to say that if this is your picture at the top at the beach. You are a picture of beauty and health to me. I would love to have your shape. I just started losing weight last year. I was 300 lbs and I found a form of Yoga that I really enjoy and have lost 70lbs and now that I am in a self loathing cycle I have gained back 25 of that. I look at you and I realize I am probably never going to look like the picture of a yoga journal magazine but I can pull off great yoga moves and have flexibility. Thanks for posting this and remember you are beautiful. Thanks again.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 6:01pm

    Keep going girl! you are doing amazing and never let anyone put you down! Do everything for yourself and you will find peace and happiness when you find that balance in your body based on loving yourself! So much love to you!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 9:30am

I think you look pretty freaking amazing!i think we need a lot less perfection and more realistic ideals of what a beautiful womans body looks like. If your criticizer was a woman…the shame is on her!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 9:22am

OMG, you are GORGEOUS!!!!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 9:21am

I understand being speechless after receiving that comment, I've been myself on occasion and have composed volumes of comebacks when alone at a later time but the person who spoke to you opened a dialogue in which, you had every right and obligation to respond. You could have taken a moment to explain that they had entered a safe haven and were unknowingly creating a negative environment. That yoga is a personal journey and that their critical assessment of your body was destructive. You could also shared with them what you have shared with us about your eating disorder and the great strides you have made to overcome them. If so inclined you might have explored with this person their Madison Avenue created vision of body image and how she needs to start to thinking for herself…okay, I am getting snarky here and should probably remind myself that it is about educating the other person lovingly, not being unkind. But my point is we don't need to sit quietly while someone who clearly needs to be reminded of the concept of personal boundaries. I agree whole heartedly with what you have written but I also believe that it is not just all about learning to control our internal dialogue. It is about expecting kindness and respect from those people in our lives, including strangers.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 9:11am

I am reminded of the Second Agreement in Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements": "Don't Take Anything Personally!". Clearly, this person's comment is more about his/her personal baggage than anything else. I definitely enjoyed your article, but I am concerned that you would react at all to this negative external judgement! I guess that it is what makes all of us human or very social creatures!!!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 9:09am

This article is amazing! I’m in recovery for a long time eating disorder (and doing amazing!!) hearing hear words means so much. Keep loving and living free!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 9:00am

I recently went home to partake in my mother's wedding. I hadn't seen her in over 6 months because I recently moved to Virginia for a new job. The morning after my arrival I went for a beautiful run around a lake. When I drove back to the hotel my family was sitting in the hotel lobby eating breakfast together. I see my mother from a distance and my eyes light up. As I approach her with arms wide open, her first words are – "Joey, you are so thin." My response – "What are you talking about mom? Underneath this shirt is a chiseled body."

The rest of the day I was self conscious. I kept asking myself, "Do I need to gain more muscle? Should I eat more? How can I not look 'so thin?'" Luckily, right after that breakfast I met up with a dear friend of mine at a coffee shop. Her first words to me when she saw me – "Joseph…you look so fit. Wow."


anonymous Oct 12, 2013 8:49am

You said, "I will never look like a typical tiny yoga teacher…." From what I am reading in the comments, tiny yoga teachers are not typical. I am a yoga teacher, and when I saw your photo I was thrilled. I thought to myself, "hey that looks like me!" Thank you for sharing the typical yoga teachers with others.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:58pm

    You are so right Vickie! We all have our struggles that are not voiced and I am so thankful for all yogis in any size and shape! The fact that we are there to practice means that our true selves and there and shining together, leaving behind the different sized physical forms! Yay for being one!!! in love 🙂

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 8:40am

Fitting the "norm," meeting expectations, achieving "perfection" – BORING! What stories do these people tell? "Look, I did it and you didn't.." The thing is, they did something ordinary. Because "the norm" is a cultural cookie cutter. Guess what, achieving the norm is easy! Being different is the challenge that makes you fascinating. I love the way you look, but more important, I love the way you are. Great story. Keep it unusual!!!!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 8:35am

This made me well up. It also angered me. I write this teply to dispel the anger. I’m in no mood to be pissy today. It’s too pretty a day. Thank you for sharing a painful experience. You have such grace and possess true self-value that you have turned an ugly scene into a positive message for all of us. I, too, am a non-pixie and struggling daily to learn to love me as I am. My instructors come in all shapes and sizes and I’ve always found comfort knowing that any body size, shape, or build can exemplify the extreme health that comes from regular yoga practice. And for the record, you look amazing and have every right to be proud of yourself.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:56pm

    Thank you so much for your words! it is your support that strengthens me! Thank you thank you! in love 🙂

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 8:27am

Thank you for this amazing post!!

And so often, I think remarks like that are a much bigger warning sign for the person actually saying them… I think her comments point to some real deep-seeded issues with her own views of body and "perfection." She has such a hard time coping with how she thinks she needs to look that she literally has to project it onto other people. At the end of the day, I feel sorry for her and hope that she comes to love and understand real beauty, not what society and the advertising world have told you is beautiful.

And on top of that, you have a rockin' bod!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 8:26am

Wait is that picture of you? I was thinking this is the hottest yoga teacher I’ve seen in a long time! She’s got curves, great balance, and a real body! I would so be in that class. Where do I sign up? Muscles are sexy. Real bodies are sexy. A great sense of self is divine. Don’t change.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 8:21am

You are amazing! You look wonderful! People always assume being reed thin means you are healthy…..very similar to when someone says they want to be normal. Lol, what is normal exactly? What is being healthy? I think the first step is having inner peace then everything else will fall into place. Keep doing what your doing! Your wonderful!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 8:20am

thanks for sharing this , really inspiring and something I needed to hear today.
yes and inner jersey girl agrees with Maryann I would say "fuck you very much, namaste" 😉

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 7:51am

Thanks for speaking out about this. I hope this touches many people.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 7:50am

I wish more yoga teachers looked like you – you show that wellness is not about attaining some FALSE sense of physical "perfection," that yoga is for EVERYONE and beauty comes in different shapes and sizes! If I lived near you, I'd be making a beeline for your class with gratitude.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 7:45am

A great article written by a beautiful woman, thank you!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 7:34am

Rachel Priest, I’m so sorry you had to deal with that woman’s internalized mess. If you don’t mind my asking, how did you interrupt or handle that student in the moment and in the future? Was it in front of others? How did you handle the group?

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:54pm

    I was very polite but removed myself quickly from the situation in order to not react badly. Someone breathing in and out slowing can do a lot! Sometimes you just need to let people say what they wanna say, but then leave the conversation quickly. in love 🙂

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 7:08am

I guess the woman who made this nasty judgment of you has totally missed the point of the practice of yoga, poor thing! Let's just say her spirit is out of shape, and her ego is definitely obese!!

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 6:18am

Thank you for you inspiration. I had a fellow yoga teacher tell me because I have larger breast I did have a yoga body! I understand what you went through with this comment. You are amazing and beautiful inside and out.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 6:11am

The body is just the vessel, to assist us on our path. Sadly, yoga has been co-oped by the fashion industry when it has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with fashion and modeling. Union and realization of our inherent best-self is for all people of all body types, don't be fooled by marketing and stereotypes.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 4:58am

Your heart always knows the correct answer. Listen to it.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 4:41am

Who cares what you look like? You sound like you'd be really good fun to hang out with (and by the way you do look great).

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 3:45am

oh but you look so beautiful in that photo. That picture alone shows all your strength and beauty and groundedness. Big love. Thank you for your words and the beautiful, self-empowered message that makes you even more beautiful that you already are.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 2:40am

You're a brilliant light. Please do not ever defend yourself. This person actually was there to learn something bigger than the difference in body size. You are the teacher, therefore you will attract the student, but as co-creating would have it, we each have stuff to learn. You do not have to prove what is real for anyone else – just saying…. and indeed, you are beautiful. Shine on sister. <3

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:52pm

    Thank you for your love and encouragement! in love 🙂

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 2:35am

Her problem not yours!you ARE gorgeous, and even more so cos you own iit!!!sounds like she’s got her own work to do,
Maybe it’s her first time around, best article I’ve read in EJ in a while, you look fab and fit,
Sick of looking at super skinny teachers, most real yoga teachers (non-celeb/fame-hungry) yoga teachers don’t look like this anyhow , namaste

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 1:45am

Echoing others… all I can say is bullshit. You look great. Don't even think twice about it.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 1:40am

Gosh! I think you look super healthy and strong and incredibly beautiful! I am so inspired! I way over 300# and just can't do much–ever. I want to do Tai Chi and yoga. But even when I was 188# and tried one type of yoga –it was godawful painful and also (truthfully) very painful to have to watch/see myself in the mirror. Ugh. All that fat! All that "me" that could NOT do what everyone else was doing. And the pain! Did I mention the silently shrieking pain? Once, I lost lots of weight and happened to go to dr's appt. wherein that doctor described all 137 pounds of my 5'5" of myself as "overweight" in his assessment. Another doctor said I should aim for weighing 150# (this was when I weighed about 200#, so interesting that he didn't think I should weigh something less than 137#… And throughout all the short time I weighed 137#, what did I suddenly encounter (again–after so many years being an invisible fat women, at least to these reactions)? Catcalls, wolf whistles, and guys being far worse than ever before– and men! Godawful! I ballooned up to 300# and have not looked back. Except…except…I can't live at this weight. I can't do ANYthing. Walking. stairs, bike riding, getting down to play on the floor, even taking a bath is impossible (showers only.) So, yeah. I'm not going to sweat it if I do not look just "right" to anyone else, thank you very much. If I can get myself to endure more yoga (and I do truly want to! I identify with it so! Not to mention how health-rewarding it would be to me,) I know I will likely have to subject myself to others scrutiny, but LOOK.OUT. Buzz off! This is my healthy time. And I know damn well I may not meet everyone's expectations of what you think my most appropriately sized and shaped healthy body should be. I only care what I think. And when I ask what others think, THEN I may care what they say. Or I may not, if I was unlucky to have picked a destructive person to ask, rather than a supportive, loving, healing person to ask. The truth may hurt. But people don't have to. And I'm done being hurt by you. It's me I care about now…finally…it's me. Go you own way, with my blessing. May we meet again, if the time is right. Me? I'm going to yoga and Tai Chi and hopefully to swim and bike and maybe to a roller rink. I'm going to sit down at a picnic !! And on the floor!! And (gasp!) in a bathtub! And take my first bath in years!! Sometime, soon enough. And I won't give up because you flog me mentally. That is YOUR shit. Own it. I own mine. And I am done letting your shit stick to me. To be healthy as the woman pictured in the photo? Sublime bliss! Strong! And active! And IN LOVE WITH LIFE! Thank you for being you–all perfection of YOU, woman in the photo (whether you are the blogger or not.) I love ya, kiddo! You go girl! You made my day! And somehow, after seeing the photo and reading this blog, I get it. I really do. And I'm finally on my own side. Bless you.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:50pm

    Wow what an incredible story! Thank you so much for writing this and reaching out to me! I am so happy and feel so blessed that this article has resonated with you and yes, this is me and that picture is me at the beach! So its all honest and open of who i am and what i believe! Keep on being strong and loving yourself and that is the only thing that matters! In love and light! 😉

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 1:37am

I really couldn't care less about what you look like. What you've said in your article is all I would need to know that I would want to come and practice with you! At the end of my days if I should get the luxury of time to reflect back on my life I want to be able to say to myself that I lived and loved to my fullest capacity. That includes self love or acceptance. Life is so precious, do I really want to to use it up worrying about and trying to conform to man-made concepts that have been manufactured and airbrushed into life?? It seems utter madness that we live in a world where people are dying for the lack of water, food, medicines, shelter yet others are bothered by love handles on a yoga teacher?? Perspective is what it's all about and I'm grateful to have read your article because I wander down the path of self-obsession every now and again and your article has just reminded me to snap the fuck out of it! If you are ever in London would be a joy to practice with you although I am off to India to practice with my guru for the next 3 months…Happy days! Thanks, Kim x

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:36pm

    Have a wonderful trip and I do hope to come to london in the near future! Thank you so much for your wonderful words! in love 🙂

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 1:12am

I think this should be merely a stepping stone for you. When I think that I'm over it and I'm fine in my body there is always someone else out there who isn't comfortable with their own no matter how they look like and they try to bring me down about my own looks. This didn't change when I was skinny, people found other stuff to criticize. So I realized when they look at us, they see their own insecurities. It's never about us. Let that person's insecurity be just an expression of their own feelings about themselves and a reminder of how well you're doing and moving forward. That mentality just makes me realize how much self acceptance that person needs because they're uncomfortable with yours.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 12:15am

Thank you for the reminder to reaffirm the beauty that is my Self.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 11:38pm

i was an earnest new devotee to yoga and had been turned onto a free yoga program offered online by a relatvely ''famous'' yoga instructor. she has vidoes, books, newsletters and her own clothing line. i sent her a comment about liking the clothing line but found it disheartening that the clothing was only available in extra small small and medium sizes – how about larger sizes? she responded telling me that if i worked hard and followed her routines and diet and cleanses that i could maybe fit into her clothing and went onto to tell me how very petite she was in her build and how she could do little to alter her size btu big girls like me could change ourselves. i went from devastated and hurt to angry and insulted to feeling sad for her inability to empathize and the narcissism she seems to thrive upon. yoga is a practice more than perfection. it is about health and attitude more than having a covergirl( or guy) physique. i do yoga for how it helps my mind and body. seeing authenticity, including imperfections and exceptions adds to the beauty

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 12:11pm

    How in the world does she get off telling you to reduce into her clothes?

    Whatever happened to "meet the student where they are"?

    If she doesn't want to design/manufacture for people of size Large and up, then at least the honorable thing to do is to mea culpa the Lululemon way .. perhaps stating the lack of cost-effectiveness/lack of demand.

    If this instructor is who I think she is, she should stop marketing her yoga for weight loss online course right now!!!

      anonymous Oct 12, 2013 4:44pm

      Oh, maybe it's that OTHER one … the one who doesn't apologize about some book packager's contribution to her book title .. along the lines of Slim and Sexy with the same color scheme … to the title … and the similar books regarding Diet or Cancer or the like … the first one with the online course HAS been overweight and DOES wax philosophical …

      The philosophy mavens, I DO give a pass to …as I am incorrigibly one. And I go to great lengths in this regard …

      I've had to audio-record my own lengthy sadhana …

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:33pm

    I am sorry this happened to you but I am glad that you ended in a positive place with your body and mind! you are already perfect and never forget that! in love 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 11:23pm

WORD sister! Thank you for this post…I am appalled by how much emphasis is on how fit and trim or lean people are – it's ridiculous and I'm so tired of it. Your honesty is much appreciated.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 11:16pm

Part of the human experience entails misguided, unhappy people struggling internally, projecting their problems on others by being overly critical. Another part or the human experience entails the ability to recognize when someone is doing this to you, and being able to overcome it and shine regardless of hypercritical people. You have clearly mastered this. I love your article. You look like gold to me.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 10:59pm

Just wow!

I think that maybe you could hunt down that chick and thank the hell outa her! Due to her vile and narrowminded opinoions she

1. reinforced your self acceptence

2. we all got to share and feel that hey we are awesome and it happens to others too! 🙂

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:31pm

    Dear Ali!! Yes I have been thankful for the situation definitely! It brings help to others! in love

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 10:56pm

Mahalo – what a weird student – so glad you stuck with your – by the way – skinny to me – self!
These elephant articles keep writing as if the instructor is in any way fat – which this person – again – is not in any way —- maybe we should see an actually fat writer's pic about this stuff?
Lovies to all yogis xoxoxo thinnish and fat yogi

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 10:55pm

Ask yourself who has created this "image" of what a skinny yoga teacher looks like — one answer McDonalds. I loved your post and inherent in it is that on some level you too are still buying into an unhealthy image — Tiny is not synonymous with health. In your picture you look strong and in shape. I am a yoga teacher too, and a normal weight, I have students that I am sure have eating disorders or exercise-rexia, and they project their feelings of their self-hatred. I am a model of a healthy normal weight woman and I don't use yoga to be a size zero (a corporate image of what woman are). I hope I see more healthy normal weight woman in yoga ads, as opposed to skinny woman who don't even practice (which is what I see a lot in ads). I would say that, that student was projecting her/his own self-hatred onto you, because you look freakin' hot.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:30pm

    Thank you so much for these words and yes I still have to fight the negativity away daily! Thank you so much for your love and support! in love

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 10:53pm

Seriously, what a wonderful article! I never reach out on these comment boxes… At most, I’ll say, “Meh, it wasn’t that bad.” This article made me say “awesome!” Thank you for such inspiring and uplifting words. Truly Beautiful.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:28pm

    Dear Ellie! Thank you so much for your comment and I so appreciate your words! People like you keep me strong!! in love 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 10:52pm

Let me say first you look powerful and graceful, which in my mind is an amazing balance for any human especially a woman in a sick body image culture. Much love and respect to you as a woman who has self awareness and helps others find this. As a behavior intervention teacher for 15+ years I have found that people who feel the need to point out deficits in others or even in themselves are suffering too. This does not give anyone child or adult a free pass to judge but I have always tried to use these situations a “teachable moments” for the person hurt and for the ignorant or mean spirited person. It’s ok to vent or process about having someone treat you this way and now it’s time to open your hurt or even angry heart to teach tolerance for all body types. It’s so sad to me growing up in yogi culture to hear a woman equate skinny ness with healthy. She has been poisoned by popular culture and hopefully she will come back to your class, SHUT her mouth and open her heart!!!!

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 10:32pm

I love what you wrote here! And I think you look like a super hot, sexy woman!!

Several responses popped up as I kept reading- first shock horror at how rude & invasive someone could be.

2nd fuck her- what a vain naive twit.

3rd I felt sorry for you. My heart was sad.

4th I found myself cheering you on. 5th my heart started to soften and I saw the other woman’s own pain and striving for perfection and her misguided projections…

Then I got “ah that ol’ chestnut as I saw the pattern that all of us with eating disorders/ issues whatever they are or seem to be and how they get reignited from time to time by what someone says or does to us. And the outcome, the beautiful outcome of your majestic response in writing this article for us all to pull together and express and experience and share in the reminders to love accept and respect ourselves exactly as we are right now. And that is testament to the fact that the nasty comments were in fact a blessing (in big disguise!) and you are the angel that brought it to light/life for the rest of us. Thank you!

Peace out. 😉

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:27pm

    Dear Jacinta! Wow what a wonderful response!! I needed to hear that thank you so much! I need your support more than you know and I really appreciate your words! In love 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 10:31pm

Tell it, sister!!! Feels amazing to arrive at radical self-acceptance. It takes much work, as you said- but once you’re there, not a person on this earth can touch you, no matter their criticisms. Love and light 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 10:25pm

You rock! Thank you!

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 10:02pm

Oh and I'm a woman…just realized that wasn't clear from my screen name. 🙂 You're gorgeous. Screw anybody who thinks you need to be anything other than who you are.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:59pm

I hope that the day comes real soon when you see you are perfect exactly as you are. When that day comes, and I know it will, you will see that there never really was a reason to compare yourself to anyone … You are not only enough, you are exactly like you were meant to be!

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:57pm

you are gorgeous!!! she's prolly just jealous that you have some yummy curves that she doesn't. her inadequacies NOT yours!!

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:57pm

Ummm…not to get all objectify-y or anything, but I think you look fucking hot and sexy and curvy. So, fuck whoever thinks otherwise. Oh and, uh namaste and all that crap. 😉

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:24pm

    I appreciate your honesty though, sometimes people still need to hear that! In love

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:52pm

Is there is rule that yoga teacher should have a specific, stipulated weight?
If so can I know where it is mentioned?

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:23pm

    Not that i know of 🙂 but i will let you know if I find it! In love 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:43pm

There is only one reply "I wish for you the love and acceptance in your body as I have found in mine. Namaste."

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:36pm

Wow, shocked and saddened. And horrified that she would have the audacity to PINCH you! Unbelievable. Hope that woman gets a clue and fast, before she hurts others with her narrow minded narrative.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:31pm

You are beautiful and I wish I was in the class with the person who criticized you.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:30pm

That "student" PINCHED you??

Has she come out of that pretzel you tied her up in yet?

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:20pm

    Haha You brought a great smile to my face! Thank you for the support! in love 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:28pm

You look fit and beautiful. And if you didn’t, it’s no one else’s business. I can’t imagine the inner turmoil one must feel to say that and pinch another woman’s flesh. It probably feels a thousand times worse to live in her body than in yours.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:27pm

How about calling your student on her inexcusably rude behavior?

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:24pm

Your body may change and probably will with time, your values and conduct maybe not. The person who degraded you has put on display a few of the issues they struggle with . Your acceptance of me is just for you , it does not yet mean anything to me. Do not give someone that power lady you know what you mean to classes that support you. .

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:19pm

OMFG- that is the most beautiful, 100% perfect, body that I have seen in a very, very long time. Fuck the haters- that bitch was probably just jealous of you..

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:11pm

As a bigger woman (5'3" and size 14), I can say that I have had this experience my whole life. People who don't eat with me will offer unsolicited nutritional advice and people who have just met me, including yoga and Pilates teachers, will make snap judgments about what I can and cannot do based just on my appearance. After a few classes, they will see that I am strong, and healthy, and disciplined, and determined, but I always feel I have to "earn" my way into their good graces. Luckily, since I am now in my mid-40s, I am better able to brush it off since I know they will eventually come around. But it can be very frustrating for someone working–probably harder than the thinner women–to be healthy. I wish the world would come around to see that thin does not equal healthy, and having a few extra pounds on your frame does not mean you are unhealthy. Most importantly, I wish people would prioritize mental and emotional health as highly as they prize perceived physical health. Surely then they would see the glow in your cheeks and the love in your heart and not the inch you can pinch on your waist….

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:19pm

    I love it Sandee!! self love and acceptance is just what we all need more of! in love 🙂

    anonymous Nov 17, 2013 12:02pm

    Hi Sandee,

    I'm 54 & a rockin' size 14 @5'4". I think my body is amazing. This is what a woman is supposed to look like. These silly little people with whom we feel we must prove ourselves….they are threatened by our power (& awesomeness) and need to find a way to diminish us in order to feel ok about themselves. I will never again make myself small in order to appease anyone's 'problem' with my body or my IQ (over 140). Love yourself, babe; they'll sense it and won't mess with you.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:08pm

Rachel, you are STUNNING and Inspiring on so many levels. Your boldness and transparency have helped me in the judgment I often feel at some different yoga studios I practice or teach at. I will never have that perfect body, because I never EVER want to be sick again to try & get to that idea of perfection. You are so beautiful and whoever said this to you has no idea what yoga is about if she had the nerve to walk up to you and say that, maybe if SHE would do more yoga she would learn that. Keep loving yourself and thanks for telling us to do the same. I totally needed to read this. I am beautiful because I am me. Namaste 🙂

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:18pm

    Dear Bianca! yes I love what you said "your are beautiful because you are you" how powerful and wonderful that is! IN love 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:07pm

I absolutely love this!!! When I look at your body it affirms my own…a healthy, strong, curvy body! I do not look like many of the women in my yoga class (I am usually the only African-American in the room) and I often have more booty, hip and thighs than the person on the mat next to me, and I am finally okay with that. I would relish having a teacher who's body looked more like mine. Thank you for sharing!

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:17pm

    Dear Kai! I totally understand! keep living it up girl 🙂 we need more curvy yogis! in love 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:04pm

There aint nuthin' wrong with that picture – that's what a real, confident, and sexy women looks like my friends.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:01pm

I really can't believe how people can be so insensitive. I've always been super skinny, always wanting to gain weight because I felt I didn't fit into the average mold. (Getting comments about how I probably just eat salad all the time, ummm no sorry) I just don't get people passing comments about other people's weight?! I'm perfectly happy in my body, and I think people should mind their own fuckin' business. To me, it's obvious that this woman is the one with the problem, not you.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 8:58pm

That person is ignorant and unfortunatly also blinded by her own struggles and therefore transfering her own fears and judgements about herself upon others. Thank goodness that you are not blind and can see just how beautiful you really are! Thanks for sharing, it's stories like this that help open peoples eyes.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 8:58pm

Omg! Rachel you look amazing! As a yoga instructor of 20+ years I got so protective of you when you wrote ”….and pinched my side.” How DARE she touch you. I wanted to bi&[email protected] slap her for you (yogically of course ; ) Sigh…we teach what we most need to learn). We have your back sister. You teach from the heart, you’re gorgeous and bringing an amazing wealth of knowledge, love and acceptance into the world. Thank you and Namaste. I still want to smack the audacity out of that awful woman. Ugh!

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 2:33am

    Thank you for saying that. Somebody needed to 😉

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:15pm

    Dear Joy! Oh thank you so much for your support! And yes, i appreciate your protectiveness of me, how special and honored i feel to have such wonderful people around me! Thank you so much for your love and support! In love 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 8:57pm

We should also see her comment and find compassion for someone who is obviously limited in her View. When women perpetuate the objectification of women, we will never come into our power. That poor woman probably has a great deal of suffering, even if she isn't aware of it. If she were in her power as Shakti herself, she would have never seen another woman with those eyes.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 8:57pm

As a naturally slender person, I admit that I once judged a yoga teacher who came into the room who did not look fit enough for yoga. By the end of class, however, I felt that she was one of the best teachers I had ever taken a class with. I realize that I am human, and I do judge, but I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt to prove me wrong too, and I love it when they do! Good for you! I commend you!

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 8:55pm

You are beautiful, strong and an inspiration! Thank you Rachel.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 8:52pm

I once had a yoga teacher inform the whole class the only reason I could touch my nose to my toes was because I didn't have long legs. I don't, but I had a beautiful strong body and had been practicing daily for about a year and a half. It hurt, only because I had my own perceptions of myself. I love this article and how you processed it.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 8:51pm

Thank you for this wonderful post! I have been told similar comments/ had similar questions. “You eat so healthily, so what’s wrong with your body?” “I thought vegans were skinny…” Your post was just what I needed! Lets celebrate self love and let the rest go!

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 8:46pm

Her comment was about her, not you. I observe via your writing here that her comment brought up quite a bit for you. It’s good to recognize inside what is yours and what is not yours. When you “return [her negativity] to sender with infinite consciousness attached” she will be able to take a look at why she felt the need to say those words to you.

How is this woman so limited that after releasing, experiencing a down to the core amazing yoga class she absolutely needed to say that to you? What are her limitations?

I’m glad you turned her comment into making you feel better about yourself — the next step is to be truly selfless in your wholeness and help her understand the root of her comment.

“How wonderful it is that you could say such a negative comment after a great class? We are here to unlock our pains. Thank you for sharing with me and I’m glad to help you!”

After all… Imagine such a brilliant session that someone felt free enough to unleash their negativity upon you — that means you’re doing it right!

::infinite love::

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:13pm

    Wow Thank you so much Leslie! What I wonderful perspective and advice! I will definitely keep your words close to me! Thank you for teaching me! In love 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 8:39pm

Consider the source……

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 8:36pm

YES. Absolutely. What a beautiful read and important message. You are clearly beautiful, inside and out. Thank you for this.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 8:22pm

Rachel, you look freakin' fantastic! But more than that, nobody gets to have a say but you (like you reflected in your comment "F*** it, I’m gonna do me! Be me and love me, for myself and no one else!"…perfect!)! I wonder what that student was really wanting, what she was really reacting against…it seems as though she found you threatening in some way, or at least that's what I felt by her judgment. And if that is so, then fantastic. When people have their expectations dashed, it pushes up against something within them that really needs to crack. If I was your student, I would feel so much comfort and connection with someone who was not this paper doll cut-out of yoga teacherness…diversity may be uncomfortable for those who cling to oppressive viewpoints. So I celebrate you and your beautiful uniqueness, your voice and your wisdom. Some people may be looking for gurus of perfection (whatever the F*** that is!), but that's only a distraction from the reality of living. Thanks for being who you are!!!…such an inspiration!

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:12pm

    Thank you so much for this message! I had a huge smile on my face while reading this! You support me to keep on doing what I do and I am so blessed and honored for your support! In love 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 7:45pm


anonymous Oct 11, 2013 7:26pm

Thank you Rachel! I have been dealing with eating disorders for 30+ years. I am also a yoga teacher and my practice is my lifeline. I gain weight very easily and have to work my ass off (literally) just to maintain. I have three amazing children, a wonderful supportive husband and a house full of rescue pets. I am so incredibly blessed and so ridiculously busy, that it is hard to find time for me. I still struggle with self acceptance and would LOVE to have more beautiful amazing women like you in my life. Pave the way, gorgeous!

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:11pm

    Dear Heather! Thank you so much for your support and I only hope to continue writing and sharing because i think this message needs to be spread as far and wide as possible! Thank you!

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 7:21pm

Brandon is correct–yoga bellies look different from the fashionable (NOT the same as healthy) abdominals made popular by photoshopped magazine covers. Hard bellies can harm our health on a lot of different levels–digestive problems, stress levels, adrenal fatigue, etc. And if the belly is hard, breathing is often restricted, too. Yoga practice fosters healthy bodies rather than fashionable ones. Your body looks beautiful and strong, Rachel, and your journey to health is an inspiration!

    anonymous Jul 26, 2015 10:07am

    Whoa.. I am a tiny yogi, with abs. I am incredibly healthy, strong digestion, no wheat, gluten, refined sugar. My breath on the mat and off the mat is very healthy. What your post here tells me is your judgment and lack of knowledge on what a healthy body is. Yoga is the stillness of mind. It has nothing to do in regards to if you do or don't have flat stomach. Prana breath is a learned breath that everyone can do regardless of body type. We come in all different shapes and sizes. Rachel's body is incredibly beautiful, and I very much appreciate and take care of mine as well. By the way, I have very low stress due to yoga, meditation, good eating habits, and merely just being a happy person. My breath is certainly not restricted.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 6:59pm

Strong, flexible, and trying to help other – you are incredible! Never let a stranger make you feel bad about yourself, plus you look pretty awesome! Self-acceptance is a huge part of yoga, thank you for sharing this important message and reminding us that outward appearance doesn't reflect inward strength. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if this stranger is criticizing your body she is likely taking out her own insecurities on you. Stay strong mentally and physically, let your yoga be your guide!

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:09pm

    Thank you for the encouragement! I gain my strength from beautiful people like yourself! In love 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 6:47pm

I think she looks beautiful. What a powerful body.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 6:23pm

"What you think of me is none of my business!" Terry Cole Whitaker

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 6:16pm

Fuck her, you look amazing!!!

    anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:33pm

    Ohhhh Maryann… You took the words right out of my mouth!

    anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:41pm

    In that picture you look great,, perhaps your student needs to look at Ayurveda and body types if they are serious to expand their minds rather than worry about contracting other peoples waistlines ( although being in healthy BMI zone taking into account muscle is probably a good idea for all)… the phrase in Ayurveda about are you 'well knit' I like.. /ellen

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 6:08pm

literally tears rolling down my face. Thank you

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 5:55pm

This is soooo beautiful – I can relate 500%! I too struggled with ED for 6 yrs and when I found yoga became healthy and well, finally escaping that terribleness that was illness. I no longer am thin, tiny, or 'yoga body-ed" but I am now a teacher, strong, proud and most importantly, so thankful every day that I'm still alive and not sick anymore. It's so wonderful for you to put this out there and I too am trying to help others going through that by offering the practice of yoga and sharing my love for it with the world!

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:08pm

    Thank you so much! It really affects so many people and I just hope to reach as many as I can to finally realize their own beauty! Together we can conquer this world to spread light and love 😉

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 5:42pm

I agree that this should never have happened! I wrote a blog post about my experiences in a couple of yoga studios with sizeism, which led me to start practicing in new places. Bravo for your willingness to speak against such cruel statements and be a role model for people who are trying to actually embody yogic practice holistically.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:06pm

    I will Check out the blog post! that sounds awesome! And Yes, I have no fear and no fear to speak out against wrong! keep being strong 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 5:29pm

Beautiful Rachel, thanks for sharing and encouraging. Did that yoga student return to your classes? What a good lesson for that student! What an inspiration. Namaste, Mamaglee

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:07pm

    They Do return actually. Teaches me patience for sure 🙂 but we are always learning and growing i guess so its a great lesson! In love 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 5:15pm

I agree. You look great. You have muscle and curves. Yoga bodies have softer bellies and not washboard abs even though they can be just as strong. Plus you still have the curves of a woman's body which is a sign of good health and femininity. However, that does not change that their are many confused and ignorant people in yoga classes today. I hope you can encourage to be the gift you are to others.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:05pm

    Dear Brandon! Thank you so much for your words! I hope that I can just help be a voice to others who are timid because this message needs to be spread and heard! 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 5:07pm

You are absolutely perfect and do not need to loose a single pound- you look strong and healthy and fit!!!!! You look beautiful and I find it so inspiring seeing what you’re rocking rather than an underfed yogi!

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 5:00pm

Good for you! That student of yours should be ashamed of herself. She is obviously projecting her fears onto you. You are beautiful.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 4:14pm

Rachel! that was awesome! Keep loving yourself and sharing your bright light with the world!

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 4:09pm

I think you are beautiful! Thank you for a really a good reminder to all of us. As someone who is aging, I am learning to love my body in spite of it creaking and cracking and sagging! But my body is strong and healthy (52 and no meds of any kind) it doesn't really let me down and just a few weeks ago I conquered my first crow pose!
Good job on this article! We are all a light! LOVE

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 9:25am

    Hi Kat! Thanks for your comment on this post. I'm 51, recently returned to practicing yoga with intent of getting off some meds and returning my body to health, peace, flexibility. My bones were cracking away last week!! Thanks for the inspiration!

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:04pm

    Dear Kat! That is awesome! yoga is a lifelong journey and everything takes practice and time! Congrats on getting crow! How exciting it is to fly 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 3:58pm

#1 Yes!
#2 You have a rocking body
It's tough as a yoga teacher when you're surrounded by minuscule little creatures, but what I've realized for myself is that I'm healthier, stronger, more flexible, more full of energy and happier than I have ever been. My body may not fit into the public ideal of a yoga teacher, but it fits my needs and it does amazing things. I work a full time job, teach yoga and look after two great puppies, I'm full time 24/7, and I need to look after myself to do that. For me that means eating sensibly and working out. I carry muscle and I look "heavier" than most people who I teach alongside or who take my classes, and I'm past caring.
And at the end of the day, it's a great reminder that most of the girls in class love a natural rack like mine:) I'll take my soft feminine curves over my rock solid core and a healthy meal any day of the week.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:03pm

    Dear AnnaLouise! Preaching to the choir 🙂 keep being awesome!

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 3:57pm

You look fabulous! Never forget it! Critical people are everywhere unfortunately.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 3:49pm


Thank you for posting this. I am about to begin a journey into the world of yoga teacher training in Savannah, GA. I too have struggled with an eating disorder and I am far from the false ideal yoga teacher body. I’ve been a little insecure about becoming a yoga teacher because of my body, but I’ve come to a place where I know yoga is about being where you are and working with your own body while learning how to love yourself as well as others. This post has definitely encouraged me. Next time I drive up to Charleston I will definitely be attending your class. Thank you for speaking the truth!

    anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:42pm

    Many blessings to you on this journey, Jade! I know lots of yoga instructors (and Yogi's, for that matter!) with all kinds of body types. Why? Because there are many different types of people in this world. Yoga is not a 'workout', as defined by the western model. It's part of a spiritual practice and this fine line is where these gym rats get befuddled. "Do yoga – get fit / be skinny/ anyone who isn't thin, isn't doing it right." Oh brother. Ayurvedic medicine is vast system of healing just like traditional Chinese medicine and not everyone is going to be perfectly healthy all the time. Balance. You go, Jade! Be where you are and work with your own body – it's beautiful!

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:02pm

    Dear Jade!! Yay i'm so excited for you as you start your journey! and yes please contact me whenever you want to, you can send emails to me through my website! But if you do come up to charleston please connect with me! I would love to meet you! All the best in your training 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 3:44pm

great post, and not to wonder off your point….but I got to know……What did you really say to that student?
I teach, and love it-but I too am not a pixie. I like to think of myself as one with soft edges. I haven't had anyone be this openly rude-but have felt the judgment, and just wondered what words you used in that moment?

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 4:56pm

    Hey Chris! Honestly, I was relatively speechless and then basically said its not about how thin you are but more strength in body and character and then excused myself. I couldn't think of much at the moment! Thank you so much for your support! Namaste!

      anonymous Nov 16, 2013 5:50am

      sounds like a pretty good answer Rachel 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 3:44pm

As a fellow yogi who also struggled with an eating disorder before finding my practice, I want to thank you for sharing this and let you know you are right. We all need to make an effort to love more. Love ourselves, love our bodies, love other people, love our life, etc. Coincidentally, I have been encouraging my students all month to go deeper and find more ways to love every single part of who they are and this article came at the right time and will be shared 🙂 <3 Thank you and keep your light and love flowing <3 Om Shanti

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 5:00pm

    Wow What amazing timing! Keep on in the battle because we are already perfect and we just need to convince the mind and let go! In light 🙂

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 3:39pm

Well done my dear! Shine your light!

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 3:30pm

Hey Rachel.
I absolutely agree with you and I so understand what you mean. I am a yoga teacher and… not a conventional tiny one. I also come from a eating disorder past and yoga just made me accept in my body, just as I am. I feel great that yoga is in me and even not being tiny, I can help people to find some inner peace and to change things in their lives, as I did in mine. I think people can't get rid of preconceptions and project in others whatever bothers them. Well… I really liked your article and I am glad you shared this. All the best. Filipa

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 4:59pm

    Thank you so much Filipa for your support! There will be more to come as well because this is such an important issue!! Namaste!

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 3:25pm

Thank you for sharing your words and strength! You are a beautiful human!

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 3:23pm

I am shocked and appalled that someone would have the sheer audacity to say that to you…then to continue to judge your eating habits and lifestyle. What is it that makes someone think that those comments would not be hurtful?! Thank you for our courage and your strength to be yourself in the face of blatant judgement.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 3:23pm

You look gorgeous, strong and flexible. Barbie is a doll, not a person.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 3:18pm

I find it really quite frightening that someone would say that A) in the first place and B) to you, the human in that picture. I see such a strong amazing trim figure, I see health. Beautiful.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 3:17pm

You look Fab Rachel, what i see are some strong and lovely womanly curves, what you have to say is insightful as to peoples sense of self worth and last i like the part in the brief bio that you are just a beach bum at heart who loves the waves and ocean. So aloha from and old surfer sailor Guy, Steve

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 3:15pm

Ah! I love this… I heard a yoga teacher say one time during class that, "You should never trust a yoga teacher with cellulite." I nearly fell over. I am a yoga teacher and I have cellulite, and you can trust me. 😉

    anonymous Oct 11, 2013 9:15pm

    So true-Every woman has cellulite! The body is the means by which the soul manifests itself- so we women are just showing our nurturing, loving souls! It's hard to ignore the rude comments, but hang in there, Rachel. The challenge now is to find the divine in the person who feels that it's okay to insult you.

    anonymous Oct 11, 2013 11:25pm

    I too am a yoga teacher with cellulite! Something like 80% of women have it, which means a LOT of yoga teachers…<3

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 4:58pm

    Wow… its so amazing the judgement that is passed but just try to let it fly by you! It holds no power over you if you don't let it! Keep Shining 🙂

    anonymous Nov 15, 2013 3:45pm

    No cellulite = plastic surgeons procedures! I am reminded of the line from Legally Blonde "Thanks for keeping my secert El, no one gets an ass like this from exercise". I wish I could have back every bit of energy I ever wasted on anything but loving myself and life and those awesome crazy people I love so much. SO yes, F*CK EM cause it's your life baby, and confidence, love, self respect are what makes us radiant. No one ever gets to their last breathe and says, damn I wish I had denied and hated more! LOVE makes us gorgeous, and don't give a damn about anyone who can't see that glow!

    anonymous Apr 12, 2014 8:09pm

    I am a massage therapist and I can tell you that i have seen cellulite on the tiniest, fittest females. Yep. No one is immune from it.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 3:14pm

YES! Yes! Yes. Thank you.

anonymous Oct 11, 2013 3:11pm

Rachel thank you for your words of wisdom. I’m struggling with self acceptance, manifesting itself in depression & anxiety, and have been having hypnotherapy to help me adjust my thinking. Words such as yours can only support and encourage people in a similar situation and help us to think ‘yes I’m worthy and happy to be me’ x

    anonymous Oct 11, 2013 10:27pm

    This is so inspirational! Well put, too. I can feel the impact of your words from deep in your sincere heart. Thank you for being beautiful inside & out. Wow.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2013 4:57pm

    Thank You Beccy! I am glad that my words can help! I think its so important to sincerely believe within yourself and your heart, "yes I am worthy and happy to be me" Repeat repeat repeat because it is the honest beautiful truth!

Hillel Gazit Jul 23, 2018 3:37pm

Teaching Yoga is more about attitude than the ability to do pretty hard asanas. I saw pretty good teachers who asked one of the students to demonstrate an asana because they knew that they could not do it well enough. They were good teachers becuase they had the right attiude. I like your attiude.

George Hayduke Jul 23, 2018 2:59pm

Keep doing what your doing ‘cause what your doing is great.

Gayle Cross Jul 23, 2018 2:39pm

You are wise and inspiring. 🙏🏻

Anne Cobham Jan 21, 2018 8:12pm

Also, she pinched your side? That's assault.

Franziska Dee Jul 16, 2017 5:09am

You look like a goddess!

Lydie Alida May 4, 2017 6:45am

You are beautiful from the inside out! And you look amazing!

Vicky Martienssen Slater Jul 19, 2016 1:08pm

Couldn't get past the title....all bodies are real x