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The Surprising Truth About Body Positive Yoga

The Surprising Truth About Body Positive Yoga

Traditional yoga has been around for thousands of years and has a set of poses and sequences that are meant to promote physical and mental health. But in more recent years, many have highlighted the disparities in the body type historically associated with traditional yoga: very thin, with little to no body fat. Many yogis have made strides to develop a different conceptualization of yoga that is more inclusive and welcoming of diversity. Thus, the concept of body-positive yoga was born. Body-positive yoga is a newer practice that emphasizes acceptance of all body types and abilities, and focuses on creating a safe and inclusive space for students to practice yoga. Read on to learn more about body-positive yoga, how it differs from the traditional practice, and just how meaningful emphasizing “yoga for all” can be to the wellness community at large. 

Jessamyn Stanley, Joint, Arm, Muscle, Knee, Waist, Thigh, Swimwear

The term “body positive” itself is somewhat new and continues to evolve. While it may mean different things depending on the person, body positivity is generally thought to advocate for the acceptance and celebration of all body types, including those that do not conform to traditional beauty standards. It encourages people to focus on self-care and self-love rather than striving for an unattainable ideal of physical perfection.

Woman, Plant, Sky, Cloud, Shoulder, Leg, Nature, People in nature, Flash photography, Knee, Happy

Jessamyn Stanley, Dana Falsetti, and Valerie Sagun are examples of inspiring Instagram yogis who have started body-positive yoga. They share their experiences and messages of self-love to create a more welcoming and accepting space for all yogis.

Woman, Hair, Shoulder, Purple, Neck, yoga pant, Sleeve, Flash photography, Waist, Knee, Thigh

Anna Guest-Jelley, founder of Curvy Yoga, likes to use the term “body-affirming” instead, as it is not realistic to expect everyone to be positive about their bodies all the time. “Whatever you call it, it’s about being with the truth of your body at the moment and showing yourself as much kindness as you can muster, grace for when that doesn’t feel like much, and space for your relationship with yourself to ebb and flow,” she says.  

Barechested, Window, Knee

How has the industry reacted? 

Overall, the yoga industry’s reaction to the body positivity movement has been largely positive. The focus on inclusivity and acceptance has helped to make yoga a more welcoming and accessible practice for people of all sizes and abilities.

“When I first started practicing, I’d go into a class, and the teacher and most of the people in the class were average-bodied,” says Dana Falsetti, a yoga teacher who is now iconic for her body-positive content on Instagram. “You can feel defeated just being in that situation. So seeing photos of someone who looks like you doing something you think you can’t do… that, in itself, can really be the spark that a lot of people need to give yoga a chance.”

Dana Falsetti, Joint, Plant, Shoulder, yoga pant, Active pants, Flowerpot, Flash photography, Houseplant, Knee

But the landscape of yoga is changing, both in concept and in physical spaces. Traditional yoga classes are becoming much more inclusive and welcoming to all body types. And even further, body-positive yogis have made it their mission to create spaces totally dedicated to diverse body types.  

And the fashion and clothing industry is starting to catch on as well. Big brands in yoga apparel have all started to cater to the plus-size market, and offer more stylish options for diverse body types. 

“Finding comfortable, well-fitting, cute yoga clothes for larger-bodied people had really been impossible until about a year ago,” says Falsetti. “It’s amazing to see clothes that are inclusive for all people.”

Plus Size Women Yoga, Face, Joint, Arm, yoga pant, Shoulder, Stomach, Leg, Active pants, Comfort, Sleeve

So what’s next for the body-positive yoga movement?

While many yogis are excited about the future of body-positive yoga, others have scoped out the possibility of inauthenticity in some pockets of the industry. Some yogis are fearful that brands will only promote body positivity as a marketing tactic without fully believing in the mission and values of the movement.  

There are some aspects that could become inauthentic, but overall, the benefits of the movement vastly outweigh any negative outcomes. 

Tags: health, yoga