"... seeing a healthy body as one that is vital, sensual, at ease, regardless of its size and shape."
This blog continues the discussion regarding our Plus Size Yoga class. This time we look at what happens in the class, why it's women only, and how students have responded.
So What Actually Happens in Plus Size Yoga?
The Plus Size Yoga class follows much the same pattern as other Foundations classes. There are some slight variations according to need, but really only in the same way that needs are accommodated in all classes. For example, we have a stage (at the back, not the front of the class) that can be used for sitting and lying if getting up and down from the floor is difficult.
Why Women Only?
We live in a “sexualised” society. All around us we see women’s bodies used in advertising for their sexual pull. Always those bodies are beautiful, and often unnaturally so. It’s easy as women to develop a sense of insecurity about our bodies. This might manifest as simply feeling a bit self-conscious in a pair of tights. But it could be much deeper and greatly limit the activities we feel comfortable to try.
Yoga is undeniably, unavoidably and unashamedly about bodies. But not about sexualisation, and not about an external image of the body. We use the body to access the mind. We use the body to look inward. If we get stuck in the sexuality of our bodies, we tend to be stuck on the external.
So a single gendered class is a way of saying let’s put aside any discomfort that we have with our bodies as external shapes to look at. It’s a way of saying let’s effectively close our eyes and feel our bodies. But more than that, let’s open our eyes and look at our bodies, without the judgement that sometimes entails. Let’s look at our bodies in order to genuinely aim for a healthy body in the most complete sense of the term healthy – not limiting healthy to meaning slim and trim; rather, seeing a healthy body as one that is vital, sensual, at ease, regardless of its size and shape.
How Have Students Benefited From the Plus Size Yoga Class?
It’s not uncommon when women first come to yoga to start with the Plus Size class. Many women begin with the thought that the Plus Size class is the one for them, and that will be that. Some women do stay in this class and it is a class in which they can make significant changes. For some women, it’s only a matter of building confidence, and we now have many students who have moved from the Plus Size class to Foundations classes and General classes. It is a joy to teach a class where such progress can be witnessed.