To hear it, it sounds like a typical Sunday morning scene: women chatter as they mill about, waiting for their yoga class to start. They stand by their mats stretched out in rows, dressed in stylish activewear as the teacher welcomes students. When everyone has arrived, she summons the group to their mats and invites them to practice. However, this particular class – and the 27 others happening simultaneously accross Canada – was a little different. The class consisted solely of women who live in ’round bodies’ as part of Addition Elle’s #AdditionElleMoves event, Moving Together – yoga classes lead by Yoga for Round Bodies instructors. In part to celebrate thier new activewear line, Nola, and in part to make an act of self-care accessible for their clients. The class was totally free, mats and props were provided, and the atmosphere was full of both excitement and gratitude as we took to our mats.
As someone who regularly practices yoga, I’m happy and extremely lucky to find a home studio where I feel comfortable practicing. The changerooms are filled with people of diverse body size, the mats are packed with yogis of all abilities, and I get down real hard during Kyma with folks of all ages. There’s even a teacher who has offered modifications to move ample breasts or bellies on occasion. However, I know so many people who don’t have the same experiences and who aren’t welcomed by yoga but find the classes aren’t made with them in mind.
This class was different. Our newly-certified teacher, Sara Hamel, guided us through some warmup excersises to help us enter into awareness into our bodies and be present. Giving tons of instruction and guidance, she led us through several sequences – modeling each one first. For each pose, there were several modifications offered for all levels making the class engaging and challenging for people from all levels of skill and experience. Even the little things, like adjustments of said round bodies or the names of poses that may trigger women of size(switching the name of the cat/cow sequence to cat/dog, for example) was huge – it was so obvious that we weren’t just able to do this class, but that it was created with bodies like ours in mind.
The Yoga for Round bodies movement is lead by yoga teacher and ‘owner and operator of a round body’ Tiina Veer. She created and started teaching the YFRB classes after her own unsatisfactory experiences with yoga classes, seeking relief and self-care during her career as a massage therapist. The response was incredible and since, she’s been teaching other yoga teachers to increase the availability of the classes nation-wide and offer more people with round bodies the chance to participate in yoga classes.
Hopefully, Tiina and other folks who prove that fat and active aren’t mutually exclusive things can continue to work with Additon Elle to make inclusive atmospheres and tailored fitness available and accessible.Tags: #AdditionElleMoves, Addition Elle Moves, addition-elle, body pos, body positive, fat activism, fat and active, fit and fat, fitness for big bodies, jodie layne, kyma, nola, tiina veer, Winnipeg, YFRB, YOga, yoga for round bodies