Yay for May — especially this month’s Curvy Seven with the delightful Lisa Papez! Enjoy her inspirational story! To read more Curvy Sevens, please click here.
1. What’s your yoga origin story?
I discovered Yoga when I was desparately seeking some way to move my body that didn’t also hurt my body. I’d been diagnosed with Plantar Fascitis and between that and sensitive joints, had been advised to avoid all impact activity. I was on a diet at the time, and needed some form of body movment or exercise that didn’t require me to be bouncing all over the place. What I was seeking, initially, was gentle caloric burn. What I found, instead, was a complete and total transformation of my Self, my relationship with my body, and my spirituality. Yoga brought me to myself. Yoga showed me that I am strong, capable, beautiful, and worthy – just as I am. It became a great passion and it is that passion that gave me the courage to become a fat yoga teacher!
2. What pose do you love? And loathe?
Is it cliche to say that I love Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)? Well, maybe it is. But it’s the truth! I love how this pose manages to pack so much body wellness into a single posture: spine lengthening, core strength, back of the legs (calves and hamstrings) stretch, upper body strength, neck and shoulder relaxation/tension-release, and body awareness. How could I not love a pose packed so full of awesomeness?
I also really love Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon), standing free or against a wall. This pose has always made me feel weightless, like I am flying.
There’s not really any poses that I loathe. There are some that I can not perform safely (arm balances and most full inversions), and some that I find especially challenging, but I haven’t yet met a pose that I just simply couldn’t stand the sensation of when I practice. Sometimes, deep hip and shoulder openers make me feel very raw and vulnerable, but I don’t loathe them.
3. What advice would you share with other curvy yogis?
Come as you are. This alone is the one most important piece of advice I can give you. Don’t think that you have to meet some standard of flexibility, strength, size, or any other metric before you can step onto your mat. Remember that Yoga meets you exactly where you are on your personal path. It does not expect you to come to it, perfect, and in fact – what could it offer you if you did? Yoga, unlike so many other things we do and feel and be in life, does not have unrealistic expectations of you – only that you come, breathe, and be. So come as you are, be open to hearing what your body tells you, and most importantly – don’t be afraid to discover yourself in the process.
4. Who’s your favorite curvy icon?
I don’t know if there is any single curvy icon for me. I swell with admiration anytime I see a curvy man or woman out there in the world, unabashedly following their dreams and sharing their passion with the world without letting society’s idea of what they should be doing stop them. I regularly meet people or hear about people who have beautiful and inspiring stores to share about their journey to self-acceptance. They are all my body positive role models.
5. What’s your favorite yoga resource?
One of my current favourites is Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison. There is an easily digestible piece of Yoga Philosophy to be read for every day of the year, devotional-style. It keeps me mindful of the depth of wisdom and reflection my Yoga Practice has to offer me. I also own and adore Meera Kerr’s Big Yoga and Megan Garcia’s Mega Yoga. Both are excellent resources for curvy yogis. But I have to say, my all time favourite resource for asanas is B.K.S. Iyengar’s Yoga The Path to Holistic Health. It is packed with highly detailed information about a huge variety of asanas, and is beautifully put together.
6. What quote inspires you?
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire Universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing” ~George Bernard Shaw
7. Wild card: anything else you would like to share?
In my opinion, Yoga is one of those amazing things where you get out of it what you put into it. It isn’t about meeting some physical metric, like how long you can hold your Plank pose or whether or not your heels touch the mat in Downward Facing Dog. It is about commiting to meet your Self on the mat (and off) regularly. It is about practice. It is about walking the path. And the more you sink your heart and soul into your Yoga practice, the more you will get out of it, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Dive into your practice with curiousity, playfulness, and joy and you will find that it is quite the marvelous adventure.
Lisa Papez, also proudly known as Fat Yogini, has been practicing yoga for over a decade, both on and off the mat. Lisa is a Certified Yoga Teacher (200 hour level). She is also pursuing additional certifications, including one in Chair Yoga, and is constantly seeking continuing education and development.
Based in Vancouver, BC – Lisa teaches a gentle and accepting form of yoga designed to be accessible to all levels (especially the absolute beginner!), regardless of body shape or size, gender, or level of ability. As an out and proud queer femme, Lisa’s classes are very welcoming and accepting of all genders, sexual orientations, and identities.