Go ahead and say it: ‘I’m fat’

It may be that yoga studios in the U.S. — if not busy prepping for the arrival of Voga — are realizing that not all their potential students are trim and lithe like some exotic cat.

Classes and studios for fat people — their choice of word — are appearing.

That’s the gist of a Thursday style piece by the New York Times.

A quick pause.

The Times certainly didn’t start the Instagram / yoga pose of impossibility craze, and there weren’t plenty of fit and trim yogis (maybe more often yoginis) way before the Internet was a thing, but I’d argue the Times helped bring it to more people’s attention. The paper seems to have a fascination for yoga and yoga stars (and yoga injuries).

So good for it to find a little balance. From the piece:

In addition to the fact that the word fat feels fraught, it’s not usually paired with yoga. Yoga conjures stringy, bendy, barely clothed bodies — not soft, round ones. But that’s the stereotype that specialized classes and studios, like Fat Yoga, around the country are trying to combat in an effort to reclaim the practice for people of all body types.

In New York, there’s MegaYoga, Buddha Body Yoga and Yoga for Abundant Bodies. There’s Curvy Yoga in Nashville, HeavyWeight Yoga in Austin, Tex., and Big Yoga in Buckingham, Va., among others.


Some purveyors are adamant about exclusivity. Michael Hayes, who owns Buddha Body Yoga in New York, refuses to let smaller people take his classes; if you’re too skinny, you are shut out.

“Am I excluding small people for larger people?” he said. “The answer would be yes. There are lots of studios for people who are smaller.”

At his studio, he once refused three tiny women who wanted to take a class.

“People who are slender aren’t happy about it,” he said of his policy. “The shock, annoyance and pissed-off-ness is really profound. But I’m more interested in working with the large bodies.”

A person who sent me the article (right about when I was looking at the Times website, so it was sort of a simultaneous find) particularly liked the Buddha Body Yoga name. And I’m reminded that last week, Tim Miller noted in his blog:

The earthly Guru is thought to have a certain heaviness of presence that draws students into their orbit. In some cases the heaviness of the Guru is expressed as physical largesse—I’m not going to mention any by name, but there have been a lot of chubby gurus. When I look down at my own expanding waistline, I feel more like a Guru everyday!

Link to this week’s Tim blog, while we’re at it, is here.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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