woman practicing yoga

How to welcome women of all sizes to your yoga class

This post is authored by author of Big & Bold: Yoga for the Plus-Size Woman, Laura Burns.

When you picture a fat person practicing yoga, what do you see?

I recognize ‘fat’ is subjective, that some of you might feel uncomfortable with my using the word. It’s what I choose to define the size of my body, instead of overweight, obese, or morbidly obese. Those medical terms pathologize my body and encourage people to see my size as a direct correlation of my health and worth. But back to my question – how do you imagine a fat person engaged in yoga? I’ve seen answers centered around the image of a fat person struggling, sweating, inelegantly positioning themselves, and ultimately laying on the floor, defeated. You may or may not have had the same image in your mind, but the prevalence of this response is indicative of the problem plaguing yoga studios. The first step in creating a more welcoming, supportive environment for fat folks is examining your own internalized fatphobia. How does it manifest in your heart, mind, and behavior?