I didn’t start practicing yoga because I wanted to love my body. I started practicing yoga because I hated my body. And I wanted it to change.
When my yoga practice began, I felt betrayed by my body – not only had I never magically (or at all) lost all the weight I’d been hoping to for over almost eight years of near constant dieting at that point (I was 18), but I was also in chronic pain from migraines.
Yoga was a last-ditch effort. Frankly, I really didn’t think it would work, but I was desperate and willing to try anything.
Turns out, yoga didn’t work.
At least not in the way I’d expected.
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
What I’d expected (or, at least, hoped for) from my practice was the svelte body of my dreams and a pain-free existence.
What I got was neither of those.
What I got instead was slowly building awareness (often very slowly). I developed the ability to identify what my body felt like when a migraine was coming on, thus upping my chances of stopping it or at least lessening its severity. I also started to feel my feelings – or, really, notice that I had them in the first place. In addition, I began to start questioning whether or not a number on the scale was what I needed to be working toward.
What Grows From Awareness
I was able to do these things because yoga’s poses and strategies got me into my body. Every time I connected my breath and my movement, I reinforced a new pathway in my mind that let me know this was possible. The same was true for every time I trusted my hunger/fullness cues. Or took the nap I needed when a migraine came on instead of continuing to plug away as though nothing was wrong.
Over time, this awareness built an awakened life.
From that consciousness, I became more and more interested in living life on my own terms, especially figuring out how on earth to have a more loving relationship with my body.
Yoga + Community
The other thing I bring to yoga is a considerable amount of work doing community building and organizing. I also come to it through a background in popular education, which values each individual’s unique contribution to the conversation — whether what is being learned/discussed is literacy, sustainability or, really, pretty much anything.
Although we may not often think of yoga this way, I believe that its underlying principles are well suited to considering how we develop our practice both inwardly and outwardly. In our own bodies as well as in the body of a community (or multiple communities).
It’s this idea of community that is the driving force behind Curvy Voices. For a good five years or so, I practiced in what often felt like isolation. Sure, I sometimes went to class, and I did meet some wonderful people there.
But I still felt like an outsider.
My Yoga Community
My body didn’t look like most of the bodies in the room. I couldn’t always do the poses – at least not in the same way that seemed effortless for everyone else. Over time, I worked up enough nerve to go to class and fake confidence. But I never felt like I’d found my tribe.
That is, until I started Curvy Yoga. Even in its infancy, when it was just me and a couple friends, I started to feel a sense of coming home. A recognition that, in seeing the beautiful way that other bodies like mine could take joy in movement, I could come home to myself.
As I navigated my way through building Curvy Yoga, I kept this vision at the forefront — that Curvy Yoga is something that both expands and contracts. It can give people a rootedness in both themselves and others. And I believe that many of us, if not all of us, are looking for these feelings and experiences on some level.
All of us. That’s what led me into growing Curvy Yoga to being a welcoming, body positive space for people of all shapes and sizes. Because I realized that this sense of disconnection with our bodies doesn’t only happen for folks with curvy bodies that look more like mine. It happens for lots of us, regardless of what we might look like on the outside.
And then I realized something even more dramatic. That those of us who are looking for this — who want to lend our voice, practice and experience to developing an inclusive yoga practice — can stop looking and create it ourselves.
There’s room for all of us.
Why This Book Was Born
And that’s what I hope Curvy Voices will foster — some spaciousness around the idea of who yoga is for and what effect it can have in our lives.
The thoughtful pieces in this book cover a range of embodied experiences — birth, body image, illness, friendship, death, movement, recovery and more. Each piece taken individually is a microcosm of yoga itself — union with the writer’s life.
While each piece stands alone in its own wisdom, some lovely themes do emerge throughout the book: the journey that is coming to love your body, the importance of good teachers and that, although our experiences may differ, yoga is often a path within.
Collectively, the pieces yoke together to shatter myths, bust stereotypes, inspire and, perhaps most importantly, hold up a mirror.
Because as you read, I hope you’ll find a thread of yourself somewhere — where you’ve been, where you are, where you’re going.
I hope that you’ll connect with the writers and develop curvy community around you — locally, online, in your own heart.
Thank you for reading and being an integral part of this community. I hope you’ll share this with anyone and everyone who it might benefit; let’s keep growing this curvy community!