Big Girl Yoga
I’m not a stranger to stress and lack of sleep. My life has always been on an accelerated pace, whether it was in school or in my current career. However, I will say that last year was one of the shittiest years in my entire life. It even trumps the year that I fell and destroyed half of my face on the concrete so that is saying something.
Not only was the world plagued by a few deeply felt celebrity deaths (RIP Prince), but the U.S. decided to elect an [REDACTEDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD] for a president. To top it all off, I was working three jobs to make ends meet and my social and sexual libido eventually ended in the trash. The day that I looked into the mirror and noticed that I was starting to lose some of my precious edges was when I finally decided that enough was enough.
Some of my friends told me that I should meditate, but honestly, I didn’t know how and I didn’t have the patience required to learn how. Exercising at a gym is always an option, but gyms in my area are beyond expensive (screw you gentrification). I initially started taking long walks and light jogs around my neighborhood and the city, but I needed something more. Yes, it helped, but it wasn’t enough. Finally, one of my friends invited me to her first yoga class after she passed her certification. I wish you could have seen my face when she asked me to come.
Listen, I always strive to keep it real with myself and others. I’m a big girl. Point blank period. I carry my weight well, but I knew that my size 16 ass in a yoga class was a recipe for disaster. I’ve seen the Instagram pictures of the cute white girls in contortionist-like poses on a mountain cliff. I knew that was never going to be me. Me, balance on my arms with my legs floating in the air? Hell no!! First of all, I could barely do a push up. How do you expect me to pull that shit off? Second of all, do you realize that my breasts would probably be so pissed off at me for trying that stunt that they would escape the confines of their leash to slap me in the face? Seriously, not me. But I believe in supporting my friends so I agreed to go, and it changed my life.
I had never known that peace could be found on a PVC mat. (Not including the mats that we used for nap time in Kindergarten. You know the blue ones that smelled like pure plastic and were barely long enough for your body?) The soothing voice of the teacher encouraging me to move into a pose but not force myself into positions that I wasn’t ready for or didn’t have the energy for was just what I needed.
My entire life was forcing me to do just the opposite of that! Working even when I was beyond exhausted and pushing myself to get further in my career faster than I was even prepared for. You mean, I don’t have to do that here? I don’t have to always be the smartest person in the room with my guard up and my verbal pimp hand strong? I can just be?!
Even though I spent a good portion of the class in child’s pose because my body was like “bitch, you tried it, but I see what you’re trying to do here,” I still felt lighter than I had in months when I left the class. Muscles that I never knew I had hurt like hell the next day, but mentally and emotionally, I felt great. I felt balanced. And since then, I have fully been on board the yoga train.
I invested in a good yoga mat and a support block. I purchased a few pairs of affordable capris and tops that wouldn’t stick to my body or roll down while I moved through my Vinyasa flow. I created a Yoga playlist on Spotify that gets me into the headspace necessary for a successful practice. Although, I’m still not at a point in my life where I can afford to pay for a monthly yoga membership, I have found a few yoga videos on YouTube academy that get the job done. A friend recently started a Vinyl and Vinyasa class in which she has a live DJ accompany the yoga flow and gives out a complimentary Mimosas at the end, and I thoroughly enjoy it. I have attempted to carve out time each day to come to my mat because I notice a profound difference in my day when I do and when I don’t.
And although I struggle to make it every day, I make sure to acknowledge why I don’t make it on certain days and try not to punish myself for it. Hell, there are days where I make it to the mat and then abandon my flow halfway through because I’m not centered enough to give it my full attention. Those days are harder than others, but I acknowledge them for what they are and try not to bring that with me when I try again the next day.
Thanks to yoga, I’ve become more introspective, and I’ve fallen in love with myself and my body all over again. My appreciation for myself and my commitment as a bigger girl is always boosted when I see another big girl, especially a black woman, expressing her love for yoga. God, the day that someone introduced me to Jessamyn Stanley felt like Christmas. Her energy practically leaped through my computer screen and grabbed hold deep inside of me. I inspire to reach her levels in my practice, and I hope to someday take one of her classes.
For those bigger women who are skeptical of yoga, I understand it. Trust me, I was there. I walked into that first class and told my friend, “Listen, I’m going to go to the back so folks won’t see me struggling like a whale on a surfboard over here. Also, give me all the support blocks possible. You know, and I know that I ain’t flexible so there’s no use in fronting.” But, I do think you should give it a try. The inner peace and focus that I have found in my practice is second to none. Yes, there are still days where I’m stressed beyond belief and I would love nothing more than to jump out of window like Tommen in “Game of Thrones” than answer another email, but I know at the end of those days that I have 20 minutes to an hour where nothing else matters besides breathing, moving through my poses, and re-centering myself.
And that’s all I need to get through the day.