I’m so thrilled to be bringing this series into another year! For other interviews with fabulous curvy yogis, please click here.
1. What’s your yoga origin story?
The moment I saw yoga I thought “wow, that looks beautiful!” but quickly dismissed it with “…but I’m way too big for that…” In my early 20’s I finally got the courage to try it out, despite feeling very self-conscious that I was the biggest girl there. In that first (heated, btw) class, I pushed myself too much and ended up nearly passing out! As I ran out of the studio in shame, I thought “Ok..clearly not for me..” But something inside kept calling me back to the practice and nearly two years later and with more self confidence,I gave it another try, pledging to approach yoga and my body with a new attitude of kindness & acceptance.
I no longer care about being “the big girl” – I made the connection that yoga is about honoring and appreciating my body just as it is. And WOW – I am stronger, more flexible and coordinated than I ever gave myself credit for! I’ve been practicing yoga for over three years in various forms and despite still being larger than most in my class, I don’t let my ego get in the way of an enjoyable practice.
2. What pose do you love? Loathe?
The answer to both is pigeon! I love it because it pushes me; I loathe it because it pushes me. During pigeon, all I want to do is squirm, move out of it, find relief – but every time I catch myself latching onto the pain, I say “just breathe into this sensation – it’s OK.”
Pigeon is a key pose for me because it so intensely draws my full awareness to the present moment. It reminds me that in life there will be periods of discomfort, but paradoxically, those same moments are the pathways to experiencing release & relief. Pigeon for me is all about surrender & strength and that grounds me.
3. What advice would you share with other curvy yogis?
I’m learning a really valuable lesson about being a plus-sized woman doing yoga: size only matters if you let it. Trust me, I know how intimidating it can feel to walk into a studio and not see anyone your size, but if you allow yourself to experience what yoga can be for YOUR unique body, you stop caring about other people’s yoga bodies. Nearly every pose can be adjusted to suit what feels good for you and there is no shame in modifying.
4. Who’s your favorite curvy icon?
Oprah because is she a remarkable innovator, modern day Renaissance woman, and has been very open and honest with her body-image journey. Since I was a child, I’ve identified a lot with her story & also believe in her vision of creating communities and spaces dedicated to helping others explore who they authentically are.
5. What’s your favorite yoga resource?
My own practice, actually! Every time I step onto my mat, I learn something new about myself and my abilities physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
6. What quote inspires you?
I repeat this Rumi quote whenever self-doubt creeps into my life: “Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to. Don’t try to see past the distances; that’s not for human beings. Move within, but don’t move the way fear make you move.”
7. Wild card: anything else you’d like to share?
Just before the 2012 holiday, I got engaged to my soul-mate and best friend 2012 was an awesome year both personally & professionally. My fiancé (trying to get used to saying that!) and I are so excited to be planning an outrageously FUN wedding in October 2013!
Rachel O’h-Uiginn is CEO of Undercurrent Coaching for Curvy Gals, a life-coaching practice that works with plus-sized women who are fed up with hating themselves & their bodies, and are ready to do something totally radical: try self-love on for size. For more information, check out her site www.undercurrentcoaching.com and follow her on Twitter @RachelTheCoach