Books we like: Fat Yoga (because any body is a yoga body)

Fat Yoga

We were offered the chance to read Fat Yoga by Sarah Harry and immediately said yes. What a fabulously intriguing title, and we love the guiding principles of Fat Yoga:

  • All bodies can practice yoga
  • All bodies deserve care
  • All bodies deserve respect
  • All bodies have value
  • Fat Yoga will meet your body where you are physically comfortable
  • Fat Yoga is a Fat Positive practice
  • Fat Yoga is a body positive practice (no one body is better than another)

Yoga is not just for the super slim. Just like any body is a bikini body… You just have to put a bikini on. Or get your yoga on as the case may be.

Fat YogaSarah bares all in her opening pages. She shares her story of having a destructive body image and a destructive marriage. She writes about how she pulled the threads of her life together and found peace. Not just with her body, but with her life.

Much of the book is dedicated to step-by-step instructions and photographs to allow you to practice yoga in the comfort of your own home. However I was really taken by the book’s introduction and Sarah’s journey to finding body peace.

Here is an excerpt from Sarah’s new book, explaining why she calls her practice ‘Fat Yoga’:

So once upon a time, the word ‘fat’ was not one I was friendly with. In fact, it was the worst and most hurtful (devastating really) word you could call me. It had greater power than any other word and I spent vast sums of money and equally silly amounts of time trying to outrun it. If it was even whispered near me my eyes would fill up and I would retreat to carrot sticks and steamed chicken, completely crushed.

My world was a complex prison of numbers for more than 20 years. I counted grams, calories, kilograms and minutes till I could eat again. I was obsessed with being lighter and the concept that it would be my golden ticket. When I took up less space I would have more: more love, more beauty, more fun, and more success.

As I found yoga I moved out of my prison of numbers to see my body for what it was. Bigger, taller and stronger than most, I wasn’t going to take up less space, not ever. All that meant that somewhere along the way I had to stop running from the word ‘fat’ and just see it for a descriptor of my body. I had to strip it of its power over me and not allow it to hurt me. Yoga taught me to come home to my body.

Yoga is an inclusive and beautiful practice, bringing together many elements which have nothing to do with the size of your thighs or the brand of your pants. It doesn’t matter if you can touch your toes or you haven’t seen them for years; yoga has something to offer you.

Fat YogaIn Fat Yoga we don’t see the postures as something we need to squeeze our bodies into, in fact the postures need to ft us. In this practice we honor and respect the body, meeting it where it is. In this version of yoga size doesn’t matter.

Fat Yoga completely rejects the idea that the modern ‘yoga body’ is the only body able to practice yoga (slender, youthful, bendy, white and able bodied) — a dangerous and unhelpful construct that adds to the pressure people currently feel to adhere to a narrow, idealized form of beauty. There is an abundance of diversity in our society, and I would like to embrace and respect those differences, not try and squeeze myself into someone else’s idea of beauty.

And if you don’t like my fat legs in lycra, it’s very simple — just look away. I no longer care. It’s my body and my business.

Why we need Fat Yoga

Those of us in bigger bodies are often made to feel uncomfortable, visible or incompetent in traditional yoga studios and I wanted to offer a space where people could feel comfortable. It would be really great if people didn’t call fat people exercising names or come up and congratulate us (both really horrible experiences), but they do.

I have been publicly humiliated, shamed, told to ‘come back tomorrow when the beginners’ class is on’ and just not made to feel welcome in some studios. The assumptions made about me, my experience and my ftness have been breathtaking. I knew other people were struggling with this too and I wanted to bring this beautiful practice into spaces where that would never happen.

There are very few places where bigger people can exercise with ease and comfort in a class and with a teacher who understands their body and can cater to their needs, so that is why I started this movement. We need the tools to understand our bodies and how they are different but just as capable, and teachers who are welcoming and skilled to help us.

Who is this book for?

  • Anyone who would like to understand how to adapt classic postures for their body.
  • Yoga teachers whose training didn’t include teaching yoga for bigger bodies and who would like to learn how to be more inclusive in their teaching.

About Sarah Harry

Fat YogaPsychotherapist, yoga teacher, researcher and university lecturer, Sarah Harry is considered an expert in body image. She is regularly in the news, on TV and in print as both an expert and a fat yogi! Sarah is one of the first western yogis to offer yoga exclusively to bigger bodies and has practiced yoga for more than 20 years.

Fat Yoga, New Holland Publishers RRP $29.99 is available from all good bookstores or online at www.newhollandpublishers.com

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