If you’re considering a yoga class, but are feeling hesitant, take a breath. Trying yoga shouldn’t be scary. In fact, the practice of yoga is for every body. Keep reading to learn more.
Yoga: It’s for Every Body
Yes. You read that correctly. Every. Body. (My autocorrect and spell check tools are screaming at me, LOL.)
Yet, I meant to write out the words individually. Yoga, the healing practice of stretching and breathing, is for every body type. You don’t have to be skinny, flexible, or wear tight clothing to practice yoga (even though that’s what all the images might show you).
Yoga is meant to be accessible. It’s a basic form of exercise that can be quite healing for the body, mind, and spirit. People who’ve never done yoga before can practice in the very same class as people who are experts (even teachers!).
A Yoga Story from Our Studio
We’ve been teaching yoga for just over 18 months now. First, we owned a small studio location of our own on our property. At this point, we’re out and about in the community, teaching yoga at various locations.
No matter where we’ve held our yoga classes, we’ve kept true to one yoga principle: yoga is for every body type. Let me share a story from class to explain what we mean.
We recently held our first set of classes at a local church hall. The room was larger than we’re used to teaching in, which has its pros and cons. While we like to keep our class sizes on the smaller side, we felt we could open it up to more people, so we didn’t feel like we were getting swallowed up by the large space.
Now that our classes had around eight people in them, we noticed that our students’ levels were all over the place. Meaning, we had people coming to class who’d NEVER touched a yoga mat all the way up to another yoga teacher! You could say the range of body types and practice comfort levels was wide.
Go at the Pace of Your Comfort
During the first class, we took it slow. As we prepared to flow through a few rounds of sun salutations, we realized this could be the first time our newbies were following along. So, we took the first few rounds extremely slow. Probably, slower than people were actually breathing.
Then, later in class, as we were preparing for a spinal twist, we thought about how people could get lost, lying on their backs, unable to see very well, and wondering which leg went what way. So, just as with the sun salutations, we spoke clearly, slowly, and were very specific with our directions.
After class, while reflecting on how the sequences felt and were received by our students, we realized that, perhaps, our more advanced yoginis might become bored or impatient with the slower cues. This led us to an a-ha moment… and the point of this entire post!
Yoga is meant to be practiced at the pace of your comfort level. If you are a new student, you are working hard to pay attention and get the specifics of each posture correct. A newer yoga student may not be able to flow as fluidly with their breath, but that comes with time and practice.
For the more advanced yogi, they may actually be able to breathe and stretch at a pace that is seen as fast by some.
Every Body Can Do Yoga
As we prepared for the next class the following week, we decided to bring these notes to our students. We wanted to remind them that yoga is meant for every body. No matter the size, shape, or body type… yoga is meant to be an enjoyable and accessible experience.
We touched on these concepts at the start of our practice. First, we thanked all the students for holding the space for the brand new student. We explained how we would go slowly for the first time through some postures and speed it up as people become comfortable and familiar with the poses. Additionally, we gave the students specific examples.
The first example was about how we transition from kneeling to standing. For beginner yoga students, we may rock back from our knees, shifting the weight into our feet. We would then roll onto our feet and slowly rise, walking our hands up the fronts of the legs until we were standing up. For more advanced students, we reminded them if they’re used to transitioning from kneeling to standing through the downward-facing dog pose; they can certainly go for it!
Another example is related to cueing and timing. As we set up for the first spinal twist of the class, we spoke slowly and gave exact directions. Some students may have felt this process to be dragged out. So, we shared that if an advanced student already knew the type and style of spinal twist they preferred (and knew how to get into one), they could move more quickly than our cues, since we’d all end up there at some point.
Yoga is for Every Body
In the beginning, yoga can seem scary. There are a lot of unfamiliar words and you’re putting your body into positions it may have not done before. However, this isn’t something to be afraid of. At least, if you join us for one of our classes.
We take things slowly. We teach to the beginner level. And we allow those who’ve practiced before to push further into their practice.
After time, the new people aren’t quite as “new” as they used to be. Actually, we’ve been teaching one group of ladies who work together. They were all brand new to yoga during their first class. Now, some 15 months later, they know the pose names, can refer to them in conversation, and are even making jokes about some of the stretches!
With time and practice, the body learns the mechanics. The mind begins to remember the moves. Muscle memory kicks in… and every body can enjoy a yoga flow!
Yoga is a personal journey. It’s a process of self-exploration and healing. You definitely don’t have to look a certain way to practice yoga. That’s why we truly believe yoga is for every body.
Feel free to visit me here. I’m more than happy to partner with you on your healing journey.
About the Author: Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, HNB-BC, RYT (200) is a board-certified holistic nurse, registered yoga instructor, and reiki master.
Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is a certified coach, nature lover, and avid meditator.
Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bulls. She enjoys gardening, jigsaw puzzles, farming, music, and hiking.