What’s your yoga origin story?
In the Fall of 2008 at the age of 32 I found myself living a life I did not recognize as one I wanted. I was newly separated, morbidly obese and unhappy. After many failed attempts at losing weight, I had a moment of clarity that I needed to accept myself as I was – weight and all. I decided not to put off doing things that interested me just because of my weight. I was never an athlete, in fact I loathed gym class, but yoga intrigued me. I decided to give it a try. I was incredibly fortunate to find an amazing teacher, Jean Short, who was very understanding and compassionate. Being a curvy yogi herself, I immediately felt comfortable trying this thing called yoga – all size 6x of me.
By the end of my first session with Jean I felt like I was coming home to myself. That was the start of my passionate love affair with Kripalu yoga. I practiced with Jean for years – she is still my teacher and mentor. Yoga continues to transform my life from the inside out. The benefits to my physical and mental health are too many to count. Yoga changes lives. Yoga is truly my life’s passion and I felt called to teach after two years of devoted practice. I completed my 200 hour Kripalu yoga teacher training this past July. I currently teach classes for women of all shapes, sizes and abilities in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Who’s your favorite curvy icon?
I am inspired by women of all shapes and sizes who live their lives with open hearts. I am fortunate to have many beautiful women in my life who whole heartedly support me on my journey – most importantly my amazing Mother who is truly the strongest, most beautiful curvy woman I know.
What pose do you love? And loathe?
I love Virabhadrasana (Warrior) II – it makes me feel strong and empowered. LOVE it! I do not enjoy Eagle pose – mostly because it does not work for my curvy body! I have come to accept that those poses I resist are often the ones I need most.
What advice would you share with other curvy yogis?
Take the time to find a teacher and yoga style you feel comfortable with. I highly recommend looking for a teacher trained in the Kripalu tradition. Explore different classes until you find one you feel good about! Yoga is not about who can bend the furthest or who has the cutest clothes. It takes a lot of courage to try yoga when you are a curvy gal – be proud of who you are!
Honour your body with proper rest, nourishing foods and rich relationships. You are most deserving of your own love and attention.
What’s your favorite yoga resource?
My body. My teachers. My students. There are tons of great books and websites as well, but ultimately we must trust our innate bodily wisdom.
What quote inspires you?
“You’ll never do a whole lot unless you’re brave enough to try.” Dolly Parton
Wild card: anything else you would like to share?
Yoga is not about losing weight. I have let go of over 140lbs as my spiritual and yoga journey has evolved – but yoga for the sake of weight loss was never my intention. It was merely a side effect of uniting my mind, body and spirit. Yoga helps create bodily awareness that I was greatly missing. Yoga also has a way of unveiling our true selves, which can be unnerving. Even if you have times you do not want to practice, or are avoiding your practice, remember that your mat will always be there for you.
There have been many times I have not wanted to practice, but I have never, ever regretted stepping on my mat.
Jennifer Saunders lives in beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. She is a yoga teacher/student, coach, educator, Occupational Therapist, and is currently studying holistic nutrition. She loves tea, her pug dog Twinkie and nature walks. You can find her on Facebook and on Twitter – come say hi!