I decided recently that I want to get my 200 hour yoga teacher certification. This is a huge undertaking, with a lot of invested time and money, so you might wonder WHY on earth I would want to put myself through that? What makes me want to teach yoga?
There are several reasons, but it mainly boils down to this: I want there to be more people who look like me teaching yoga.
The studio I attend is great, and I’ve never felt unwelcome for being fat — I know this isn’t the case everywhere, though — but the teachers and staff are all relatively small. Other students are more diverse in terms of size, so why shouldn’t we be learning from people who represent us?
I used to take classes at a plus-size focused space here in New York, and it was wonderful. I had to stop because of the cost, but I loved being in a class full of fat students with a fat instructor. But something annoys me — why should I (or anyone) have to seek out a specialty place that’s more expensive and in a less convenient location just to have a teacher that better understands my body type?
There are things about exercising while fat that you can’t teach to someone who hasn’t experienced it. So, no matter how accepting and understanding a thin instructor is, they will never fully grasp what doing yoga in my body is like.
Poses that might seem simple can become complicated in ways you won’t even think of unless you’ve been there. For example, I hate regular child’s pose. My belly gets in the way. This means I can’t lean as far forward and I won’t be comfortable and relaxed. Kind of defeats the purpose of child’s pose.
Fortunately, that one has a fairly easy modification. I widen my legs to let my stomach hang through and I can go deeper and let go more. But I had to figure that one out myself. An instructor who has a belly like my own might think to mention mods like that to a class. Or to suggest mods for other poses.
I firmly believe that every body is a yoga body. There are modifications to work with different sizes, physical disabilities, and so forth. I want to teach because I want to make more people feel comfortable in classes who otherwise might not.
Unfortunately it’s going to be a little while before I can achieve this goal. Training classes can be thousands of dollars, which I simply don’t have, for example. But I can still work toward it. I’m trying a wider variety of classes so I’m in the physical shape (stamina/strength) to handle a rigorous YTT schedule. I’m tucking money away when I can. And I’m pushing my yoga-for-everyone message wherever possible — including starting a separate Instagram for this stuff.