Raw, adjective: 4. painfully open, as a sore or wound.

Did you catch this article in today's NYT?  The one about "plus-size only" yoga classes?

I think it's great.  The first half of the piece basically lays out the reasoning and the need for this kind of class: the fact that walking into a roomful of 90-pound gymnast types is often alienating and intimidating for anyone even remotely heavier or less-flexible than they.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard that excuse from friends - many of whom are athletes in their own right - for why they don't want to try a yoga class: they feel self-conscious, awkward, not flexible enough, not fit enough, not tiny enough, shy.

It's a chicken-and-egg kind of thing.  You don't wait till you're flexible or fit to go; the yoga itself MAKES you flexible and fit, in the going.  As the second half of the article points out, ideally ALL yoga classes should be full of all body types and welcoming to whatever kinds of modifications are necessary.  And there are some teachers who are great with this; over the years I've seen one-armed fellow students rocking Half-Moon with the rest of us, and 83-year-old grandmas with brain tumors holding onto the windowsill in Standing Bow, and all varieties of bodies using towels and blocks to make their bodies stretch into positions they otherwise wouldn't.  And I've been that person in the back row myself; when I sprained my ankle two years ago, I spent two weeks of classes on my ass, modifying the standing postures as I sat on my mat, hungry for at least a taste of the yoga that I wasn't yet healed enough to do.  So there's room for that.  And a taste is better than nothing, right?

But at the same time, as this article argues, there really is something to the idea of creating a safe space for people who feel alienated by the overwhelmingly stereotypical yoga aesthetic.  Even if it's just a matter of providing that supportive introductory sanctuary until the student feels more comfortable walking into a mainstream class at an all-types studio.  If it's a matter of doing the yoga or not doing it, I say: do it.  Whatever it takes.  Be there.  The least-flexible or the most uncomfortable in their bodies are the ones who need and deserve the opening and healing experiences of yoga the most, anyway, right?  And we all stand to benefit from a little bending and stretching, whether that means touching your toes or not.


Jess(ica) said…
The teacher that I started with when I came back to yoga about a year ago is plus-size and teaches two plus-size classes in addition to her regular classes. Nevertheless, even her regular classes are full of different kinds of people of differnt body types. Her classes are shockingly diverse compared to the others I attend, and are much much better for it. We always have a great time and you can tell that she makes everyone feel comfortable, which makes yoga much more accessible. I definitely think its a great idea! Thanks for sharing.
Meliss said…
I remember that 83 year old grandma! :)

Popular Posts