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Yoga isn’t just for skinny bitches.
Yoga is not for the faint of heart — nor is it exclusively for the slender of body. While traditional yoga classes certainly don’t bar overweight people from joining, it can be difficult to perfect a pose (or feel comfortable trying) when your body is not as slim or flexible as some of those enrolled in the class.
To combat this, women and men across the United States are making waves by starting “body-positive” yoga classes that are inclusive of all shapes, sizes, and ranges of motion.
With celebrities like Amy Schumer bringing media attention to the intense pressure women feel to be thin and beautiful and major brands signing “plus-sized” models, body positivity is, thankfully, on the rise. But it’s not just those in the spotlight who have made it their mission to teach women to cherish and accept their bodies as they are.
Here are five inspiring body-positive yogis to follow on Instagram who prove that no matter your shape or size, you can still be healthy, strong, beautiful, and amazingly talented at yoga.
Jessamyn Stanley (@mynameisjessamyn)
Today I finally tried @cbquality’s #splits program on @trainersvault and, as one would expect from the high priestess of thick fit #yoga girls, it left my hips and hamstrings VERY happy. I’m really excited to keep practicing her sequence and feeling my body open even more- it’s very simple but extremely deep delicious stretches. I’ve had a lot of new developments in my life and my hips are holding all of the associated stress- It was a gift to open into them and release some unnecessary tension. Also, @thechalkboardmag mentioned me in a yoga roundup along with the likes of @gigiyogini, @tarastiles, @mackenzieyoga, and my boo @nolatrees- click the link in the @thechalkboardmag instagram header to check it out! Leggings- @mymanifesta
A photo posted by Jessamyn (@mynameisjessamyn) on
A yoga enthusiast and teacher who self-describes as a “fat femme,” Stanley has more than 67,000 followers on Instagram. She recently spoke to the Huffington Post about helping women get out of their comfort zones during yoga.
“Our society throws crazy shade at anyone whose body differs from the models featured in Western media. I always tell people (especially women) to stop sending negative energy into their bodies and thoughts,” she said. “That negative energy is responsible for all body unhappiness. The only person in control of your life experience is you.”
Valerie Sagun (@biggalyoga)
A photo posted by Valerie Sagun (@biggalyoga) on
Though not an official yoga instructor, Valerie has given private lessons to friends and local Instagram followers. She says it’s important not to feel ashamed if you have to modify poses to work better with your body. “I would hope that all teachers should understand that whether you are big or small, we all could use modifications on some poses [until] we feel comfortable in the full expression of a pose,” she told the Daily Dot via email.
Annie Carlin (@supportiveyoga)
Might be my favorite #yoga #asana of all time…the #ashtanga version of #gatepose #parighasana!!! #bestleggingsever by @lineagewear #sidebend extravaganza by me! #supportiveyoga #strongereveryday #yogini #stretch #twist #plussizeyoga #curvyyoga #fatyoga #strongisnotasize #yogagram #instayoga #igyoga #yogaeverydamnday
A photo posted by Annie Carlin (@supportiveyoga) on
Annie, who offers classes in the DC and Maryland area, specializes in “making yoga work for you.”
Dana Falsetti (@nolatrees)
I am more than my body, but my body is mine to love. Mine to respect, appreciate, nourish, and heal. I am grateful to be at a point in my life where I can. I know and I want you to know that there is nothing to be ashamed of or hide. We are meant to surrender to love, self-love, so that we can be free. Embrace who you are. Literally, give yourself a hug right now. Do a naked happy dance. Know that *it’s ok* to love yourself. Say it out loud. Say it to a friend or even a stranger. Believe in that truth, for it is perfect and always available to you. There is more than a body here. Through it I give you everything I’ve got – my light, my energy, my love. Thank you @fathertokyo for capturing my light.
A photo posted by Dana Falsetti (@nolatrees) on
Dana promotes “self-love and yoga for all,” according to her bio. She frequently posts almost-nude Instagrams of herself in various yoga poses — that’s some serious body-positivity.
Omega Jefferson (@phatgirlyoga)
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.” – Albert Einstein I was tagged by the lovely @_mrs_s_biggers to #stopdropandyoga. Thanks my friend. I would like to tag @zenodash and @holly_rose13 to play if you want to.
A photo posted by @phatgirlyoga on
Omega is an East-coast based yogi who has been practicing for over a decade, and says on her website that she is “an every woman, a real person who will no longer be held back by some narrow view of what it is to be beautiful, healthy and whole.”
Photo via Jessamyn Stanley/Instagram
Laken Howard writes about sex and dating. Based in Brooklyn, she's contributed to Bustle and Business Insider.