My Journey as an Overweight Yoga Practitioner. ~ Frank de la Cruz

Via Frank de la Cruz
on Nov 26, 2013
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Photo: Tiffany Assman

My lifelong battle with obesity has never stopped me from being social.

Pulling from a deep well of various experiences, jobs, and interests I can engage in just about any topic. But in 2008, after a complete evisceration of everything I held dear, I retreated in to a cave. This cave was not only emotional, but also physical and sociological. I gave up. Spending hours on the computer between four walls and eating, drinking and smoking myself into an early grave.

The thought of rebuilding my life was too much to bear.

After several years and giving into the pleas of my family, I underwent weight loss surgery and began the long, hard road back from 558 pounds.

That’s not a misprint: I weighed roughly one quarter of a ton.

Along the road, I found yoga. I can’t tell you the effort it took to even seek out a yoga studio, let alone take a class. Within 10 minutes, I fell in love. I knew yoga had to be part of the rest of my life—though I didn’t know to what extent. Over the last two and a half years I have been reconstructing. Putting back together the physical awareness that lay dormant for so many years, the road has been wrought with many obstacles.

Socially, I began making connections again, finding any excuse to reach out to the members in the yoga community. For the most part, most extensions of friendliness have been received in kind. Very few exemptions have been let go of.

Even after the loss of 240 pounds, I still don’t display the “typical” characteristics of a yoga practitioner. This became abundantly clear on my first visit to a Yoga journal Conference in Hollywood, Florida.

Being obese for a good part of my life, I have grown accustomed to the “double-take.” You can almost see the mental gears grinding to a halt trying to process and fathom the presence of someone with my physical attributes at such a place. For the most part, its a subtle processing that takes place. I took three asana based classes during that weekend. These classes included ‘yoga-world’ renowned teachers like Richard Freeman, Kino MacGregor, and Kathryn Budig.

Each one of these teachers were amazingly open-minded, gracious and phenomenal. Even during partner work, they had their assistants work with me since other students tended to be a bit awkward in my presence. As I walked into these rooms, the eyes of other students—wide with bewilderment—gave way to the processing going on in their mind.

What they see is hard to describe: the excessive weight loss has left considerable loose skin and I still have quite a bit to lose.

What they don’t see is the nearly two and a half years of dedicated yoga practice that has taken me through Anusara, Kundalini, Kripalu, Integral, Yin, and Ashtanga.

They don’t see the getting up at 4:30 am to get to the Shala for 6:00 am Mysore. They don’t see the five classes per week that I teach and the Yoga Teacher Training program that I assist in. They don’t see the tears in the eyes of my students, that it was my story that gave them the courage to get on the mat and begin reconciling their body and breath.

Despite feeling separation from the physical attributes of the other yoga practitioners at the conference, I secretly felt happy and fulfilled because I know it’s not about me or what I look like. It’s about sharing the transformative power of this practice with people who would otherwise have never given yoga the chance to flow through them.

Hello, my name is Frank and I practice yoga.

 

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Editor: Renée Picard

{Photo: Tiffany Assman at Flickr}


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About Frank de la Cruz

Frank de la Cruz is a yoga practitioner who teaches Hatha, Yin and Philosophy in Orlando, Florida. A former abuser of food, alcohol and nicotine, Frank is now living in awareness and sharing his passion for mindful living. Frank currently teaches at Everything Zen Yoga and is Assistant Director of the Everything Zen Yoga 200 Hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training program. Frank practices Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga under the guidance of Krista Shirley, a Level 2 Authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher at the Yoga Shala in Winter Park, FL. You can learn more by following him at his Facebook page.

Comments

28 Responses to “My Journey as an Overweight Yoga Practitioner. ~ Frank de la Cruz”

  1. The Bombshelle says:

    Really brave Frank…brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for your courage and your honesty x

  2. Monica Stone says:

    This is such an inspirational story! Thanks for sharing your journey and inspiring me to never give up, whatever my internal struggles may be 🙂 I'm glad that I know you!

  3. Frankdlc says:

    Thanks so much for your comment. I'm grateful to have a very strong support group in Orlando.

  4. Frankdlc says:

    Thanks Monica, I am grateful for you and your support!

  5. Ericka says:

    Amazing story! Your light is truly bright, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Charles Wavra says:

    Frank, You’re An Inspiration – Thank You.

  7. Mike McRee says:

    When I decided to give yoga a try, I did a lot of searching of Orlando area yoga studio's websites. You see, I have never been an athlete or a dancer and I was looking for a studio where an overweight, out of shape, 54 year old guy would not feel totally out of place. When I found the website for Everything Zen Yoga and read about Frank, I knew I had found a studio to try!

    Frank is a great teacher and a wonderful example. I too fell in love with yoga. Now it is six months later. I practice at least one hour a day and oftentimes two. My yoga practice, along with a healthy diet, has allowed me to lose 50 pounds, and I no longer have to take medication for diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol!

    I am truly grateful to Frank for helping me to appreciate yoga and begin living a healthier lifestyle!

  8. Frankdlc says:

    Thank you for the encouragement! We all have that light 🙂

  9. Frankdlc says:

    Thanks Charles, I'm inspired by those around me everyday!

  10. Frankdlc says:

    Mike, I am grateful for folks like you who approach yoga with sincerity, dedication and perseverance. All I can ever hope is to transmit the teachings with the least amount of my perceptions to influence them. Namaste, my friend, and continued health!

  11. amber says:

    You are on a courageous and noble path Frank!

  12. Frankdlc says:

    Thank YOU Amber! For your guidance at the beginning of my journey!

  13. Jody says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. Your commitment to the practice, to your health and to teaching others will be an inspiration to many!

  14. Lisa P. says:

    What an amazing inspiration you are, Frank. Thanks for blessing us with this great piece!

  15. christina says:

    This is why I read EJ. Wow! Beautiful doesn't describe. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. A deeply heart-felt Namaste.

  16. Yela says:

    So, so, so inspirational!!!!! THANKS FOR THIS IT CAME JUST WHEN NEEDED!

  17. Iris says:

    Thank you for inspiring me. I am too overweight (I think at this point I am considered obese) and have practiced yoga when I was thinner. I feel intimidated when I think of the possibility of going back, but this makes me reconsider my feelings. I have never felt the same peace and happiness again as I was doing yoga. I think it's time to go back. ☺

  18. Frankdlc says:

    Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  19. Frankdlc says:

    Thanks for reading and responding. Yoga is incredibly powerful and there are many wonderful stories. I hope more people share 🙂

  20. Frankdlc says:

    Thanks for reading and commenting, and for your kind words! Namaste!

  21. Frankdlc says:

    Thank you for your comment and for taking the time to read 🙂

  22. Frankdlc says:

    Ultimately, its about you and your journey! People come and go, our commitment to our own health is ultimately the most important thing. Namaste and remember yoga can be breathwork, chanting, meditation, serving at a soup kitchen or helping someone in need. There are myriad ways to practice yoga 🙂

  23. Michelle says:

    You are a wonderful example of what yoga is all about. Truly inspirational story and thank you for sharing!

  24. naheed says:

    Wondefrul read , Frank! I am a self taught yogini and I too lost weight through yoga. Now I have a dream to learn Ashtanga Yoga from Maisoore and train as a Ashtanga yoga teacher. I love to follow Kino as my yoga guru on Youtube. My other best inspiration are my dogs from whom I have learned to do the perfect dog stretch.

    I wish you good luck.

  25. andrea says:

    thank you for sharing your story. sounds like you are living life on life’s term and enjoying it as a centered beautiful soul! i appreciate your willingness to share.

  26. Frankdlc says:

    Thank you so much for reading 🙂

  27. Frankdlc says:

    Thanks for reading and for your kind words!

  28. Erica says:

    kick ass!!!!!!!

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