The Latest Fitness Trend: Fat Yoga?
Back in 2013, we told you guys about a yoga instructor who gained 40 pounds on purpose in an effort to fight the stigma against overweight instructors within the yoga community. And now, it looks like entire studios are making it their mission to ensure that overweight instructors and students alike feel comfortable — both physically and emotionally — when getting their downward dog on: Last week, The New York Times published a piece titled, “They’re Not Afraid to Say It: ‘Fat Yoga,’” discussing the trend of yoga studios that specialize in teaching bigger people.
So, what’s the trend all about? Well, an instructor at Body Positive Yoga in Charlottesville, Virginia explained the need for classes designed for larger people to The Times, saying instructors at many run-of-the-mill yoga studios “don’t understand why we can’t step the foot forward from a downward dog to a lunge like everyone else.”
And as Ragen Chastain, the blogger behind danceswithfat.org, told The Times, “Many fat people have had terrible experiences at a regular studio,, where the teacher assumes they’re a beginner, is unwilling to touch them or is condescending and sees them through their own prejudice.” So studios popping up around the country — from New York City to Portland, Oregon to Nashville, Tennessee — are creating classes to accommodate people with larger bodies in a way that many yoga classes don’t.
But the most interesting thing about these studios, with names like — Fat Yoga, Buddha Body, HeavyWeight Yoga, and more — isn’t that they cater to a different body type. After all, yoga classes designed for all types of bodies — from athletes to pregnant women to older people —are all over the place. What’s interesting about this particular trend is that many of these studios have chosen to dub their classes as designed for, in their words, “fat people.”
When it comes to the choice of the studios to own the “fat” label, Chastain told The Times “If you sell bubble gum, you want a sign that says you sell bubble gum. These names say, ‘fat yoga here.’ If you’re fat and want to do yoga, go here.”
And as an instructor at MegaYoga in New York City told the newspaper about her word choice, “I wanted something that was unapologetically and enthusiastically voluptuous, and not as p.c. as ‘Yoga for people with pleasing curves.’ People pussyfoot around saying it, and I wanted to make it really clear who this was for.”
And in case you haven’t already gotten the hint: Skinny folks aren’t welcome at many of these studios. As the owner of Buddha Body Yoga in New York City told The Times, “Am I excluding small people for larger people? The answer would be yes. There are lots of studios for people who are smaller.”
But this raises the question: Does assuming regular yoga studios are for the thin, Lululemon-clad women so often named the face of the yoga movement, and Fat Yoga studios are where larger people should go, only widen the gap between yogis, rather than make the practice more inclusive of all body types? What do you guys think?
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