I have just returned from my yoga retreat in Mexico with the lovely Sadie Nardini and some other great yogis (pics will follow). While I really enjoyed myself both during yoga class and on the beach I found that there were times during the retreat when I was embarrassed to admit I am a yoga teacher because I felt that I was not slim enough or bendy enough or handstandy enough to be so. Then I came home, took one yoga class and remembered that, in spite of my physical inadequacies (or perhaps because of them) I am a GREAT yoga teacher! I just read this blog post by NYTimes bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson and felt that it went some way to describing how I felt during the retreat. Read it yourself and let me know what you think…
An Open Letter to the Fat Girl I Saw at Hot Yoga in New York City
Dear Fat Girl I Saw at Hot Yoga in New York City,
Perhaps I should call you OTHER fat girl at Hot Yoga, as I was there too, easing back into my Fat Down Dog, forward to Fat Plank, then melting and pushing up to Fat Cobra, etc etc, all the way through my big fat hot Vinyasa flow. (This should be a movie—My Big Fat Hot Vinyasa Flow—I would SO go to see that.)
Is it wrong that I am half in love with you? For being fat and at Hot Yoga? For shaving your legs and getting a GOOD pedicure and putting your big ol’ ass into yoga pants ? For unrolling your mat and claiming your space, a rounded duck standing defiantly on one squatty leg among flamingos.
Were you as happy to see me as I was to see you? I think you were. You kept PEEKING at me, under your armpit and between your thighs, when you should have had been looking at your Drishti, only to find I had abandoned MY Drishti and was misaligning my spine to peek at you.
We both tipped over out of tree because of it. But it was okay. We were a secret club of Fat Girls at Hot Yoga. We understood each other.
I miss you, now that I am back home in Georgia. I am ALWAYS the only fat girl at Hot Yoga. I am sure it is exactly the same for you—-You might think there would be more of us fat girls here in Quasi-Rural Georgia than in New York City.
Well, okay. There are, actually, but I am the only one in CLASS. We sometimes have one girl who THINKS she is another Fat Girl at Hot Yoga. She is not, God bless her. She is only mentally ill. At my Hot Yoga here, all the regulars are very beautiful and sleek, like otter puppies.
They seem so at peace with their physicalness, living inside bodies that look like loops of strong ribbon. Meanwhile, I am at war. I am at war with my body.
Oh Fat Girl at Hot Yoga in New York City, are you at war with yours, too? Has it let you down? Are you angry with it? I am. Righteously furious, actually.
This stupid body has failed me in so many ways these last two years. It has been endlessly sick. It has required surgery and bed rest and vicious medication that got me well, but made me feel sicker.
I AM VERY ANGRY WITH IT for being sick, for getting fat, for not doing what I SAY.
But I am nice to it anyway, three times a week, at Hot Yoga.
Fat Girl, I saw you in New York, and I thought, GOOD FOR YOU. You are trying to find a way to be stronger, to live in yourself, to like your body enough to give it that seventy-five minutes of movement and acceptance. To just take care of the damn thing, even if you ARE mad at it. To treat it like an exasperating, ugly, ill-tempered little child—one you secretly adore.
At the start? Every time? I set my intention and it is this: For the next 75 minutes, don’t look around, don’t compare, don’t list all the ways you are not good enough to be here, and don’t hate yourself. Just Breathe. Just Breathe. Just Breathe. Just be in your body and remember how good a place it is to be, really.
For the first half of class, I remind myself that this body is not some shabby rental. It is home. No matter how mad I am, it is home.
By the second half, I always come to understand that it is more than home. It is more than where I live.
It is me.
I am it.
I remember my husband likes it. A lot. I remember it twice performed a function that was nothing short of miraculous, growing two exceptional babies entirely from scratch. My brain is a piece of it, and my brain is where the stories come from.
This is what I get from Hot Yoga, Fat Girl. I am not sure what you get. I hope the same thing. I wish ALL the Fat Girls would come to Hot Yoga and get this, get these minutes where we forget —if only for a little while— that our value as people doesn’t go down when our pants sizes go up.
And also? Selfishly? I DO wish at least one more would come, so I would have someone to peek at under my armpit, to give that little tip of the chin, that little nod.
Fat Girl at Hot Yoga Solidarity, baby. We aren’t perfect, but we are HERE, busting out of our yoga pants, ducks among flamingos, trying to take care of ourselves.
Namaste fricken DAY,
The Fat Girl You Saw at Hot Yoga in New York City
And Victoria (your overweight yoga teacher!) X