Sangha Session 6: "Does it feel ok to have separate classes called Plus Size Yoga?"


#1

Today’s topic is in response to a discussion that started on Instagram a couple of weeks ago that was below a post announcing our newest yoga instructor, Helen Camisa. In the post, I said that she will be teaching Plus Size Yoga.

Along with responses of gratitude and excitement, a few people expressed their discomfort with the way the post was written and specifically with the term ‘Plus Size Yoga’. With the intention to understand the issue better, we are now opening up the conversation here, in our forum.

As a starting point, I feel it’s important to say that we feel very positive about providing online classes for people working in bigger bodies, who may not go to a yoga class otherwise. Helen’s approach is to empower people to feel good in their bodies. If you would like to learn more about her, check out her blog article My Journey to Plus Size (Full Bodied) Yoga.

If you would like to participate in the conversation below, you can comment openly on the topic or you can answer the question “Does it feel ok to have separate classes called Plus Size Yoga?”

All the best,

David


#2

I responded on IG- I am totally OK with the term. You discussed how the classes would discuss modifications if you have a belly or boobs. I have worked out a lot of mods on my own but this took time.


#3

I think that it is a great idea, however I can see that the title can be of concern to some people. I actually like what you have said in the article Yoga for Bigger Bodies. I do feel that it will be difficult to name without upsetting some people however I think we should keep in mind the aim of the classes which is awesome.


#4

Speaking from my own personal experience, as someone who has lost well over 160 pounds, I can still relate to & empathize with the feelings of someone with a curivier body. I personally don’t feel offended or uncomfortable with using “plus sized” to describe a class, clothing etc… and to emphasize what someone else mentioned - my body was quite different several years ago. If I thought I was going into a typical yoga class, I wouldn’t. I avoided exercise classes all together because of my own discomfort with my body and unease with instructors’ potential lack of understanding of my body/endurance. If I knew a class had been modified for my shape and the instructor had insight and knowledge on a personal level (because with that also comes empathy & compassion) that most likely would have increased my participation.

This really is a touchy topic & no matter how sensitive & mindful we are with wording etc. it’s always going to be difficult to please everyone. It’s so nice to see this open dialogue and this community’s inclusive nature. =)


#5

As someone who is plus size, I think this is fantastic. It can often be difficult to know how to modify a pose to accommodate my larger body, and being able to search for plus size classes that will help me do just that is great! I have no issues with the term plus size and think this is a massive step forward in helping people with larger bodies feel more included.


#6

As a plus size person, I think it’s great - it’s an accepted term used to identify goods & services that are accessible to and/or wearable by someone my size. To me, it’s simply descriptive, and not at all derogatory.


#8

I’d love to join this class. Size and weight is a reality. I very much like that this issue is being discussed. When will the class begin?


#9

Good idea! I will participate with great enthousiam. I often have a difficult time with some poses that are not well adapted to my body shape and weight. I was even considering trying Yoga for pragnant women…:wink:


#10

I understand how some might consider plus-size offensive, but I don’t interpret it that way. I find myself trying to figure how to modify classes/poses to accommodate my muscular body, which I describe as plus-sized or stocky or Clydesdale-like. I could loose 20 pounds, which would put me at my personal goal weight, but I would still be much bigger than your average, male yoga instructor.

When you’re taking classes, regardless of the level, and the teacher has not planned as least one alternative, it reinforces the message that Yoga is for certain bodies. I think those of us who have bigger bodies whether chubby or fat or muscular or inflexible want to know we are considered and respected. Demonstration of this consideration and respect has to be expressed by ALL instructors, not just those specializing in bigger bodies.

There’s a concept in teaching and learning called Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The idea behind this concept is that you design a course in consideration of the fact that we all learn differently. In Yoga this could be to plan the movements in full consideration of the fact that we all move differently for whatever reasons.


#11

I’m a plus size too. Long before discovering your site, I’ve tried yoga and the simple child pose was uncomfortable because of my big belly, my big thighs … Fortunately, your beginner classes gave me some clues (like opening my knees for example) on how to modify some poses to feel more comfortable and really benefiting from them. It will be great to have more tips on that, and the term “plus size yoga” will help me finding them so easily that I will have more time to do yoga or to just have a longer shavasana…great!!!


#12

Thanks, @marykendall2. We have no specific launch date yet. Helen filmed a series of classes with us. The first class should appear on the site within the next three weeks.


#13

This is great. It’s really kind of everyone to share.

I’d also like to point out that Helen has posted an article in our blog on her own experience with yoga, called My Journey to Plus Size (Full Bodied) Yoga. This will give you some perspective on her approach to her classes and why she decided to go this route.


#14

I’m an instructor who has taught plus-sized classes. Since I am not a plus-sized person, I can only speak from the feedback I’ve had from my clients and my experience in teaching them. But from what I’ve learned, my clients seem comfortable with the term “plus-size” and were thrilled to learn I was offering a class just for their body type.

They have told me that attending a plus-size class has taught them how to move according to their “abundant” bodies and has helped them realize that they CAN do yoga. Many of them were surprised that yoga could even be for them, so the class title was welcoming, not off-putting.

In our class, participants seemed relieved to know that they weren’t alone in their movement challenges. Many seemed open about the realities of being a bigger-bodied person. We talked about bellies, thighs, “the girls” (lol - all women in these classes so far) and how to find variations to make each pose fit them, and not the other way around.

Now on the other hand, I’ve also had bigger-bodied people join my other classes as well. Just because I offer a plus-size class doesn’t mean they can’t join other classes. I think it all depends on each person’s comfort level and what they want out of a class.

So back to the question: I believe that having a separate class to explore these options could remove the barriers a plus-sized person may have regarding yoga. When bigger-bodied people who are intimidated by yoga see a plus-sized class advertised, they’ll discover there IS a class for them. From what I’ve learned, I feel it is very much okay to have separate plus-sized classes!


#15

Great news about the new “Plus Size” classes! It is a term used by many, especially in clothing and modeling, so I am a bit surprised by those who feel it is derogatory. Those of us who are indeed larger than the normal/average (whatever and whoever decides those things!) are grateful for the time and attention devoted to having these classes. Can’t wait to begin!


#16

Thanks so much to everyone for your thoughts. I’m so excited to share these classes, and I can’t wait to hear what you think!


#17

David, I applaud you and the DYWM team for all that you do. The titles of classes help people do what is right for them. I’m almost 60 and have a few (we’ll, more than that!) pounds to lose. Some days I do classes with Melissa, some days 55 plus classes, and yes I will enjoy plus classes as well. What I receive is far beyond anything that I could suggest for a name. I applaud all of the people that have offered positive comments, and wish them all the best with their yoga journey. :slightly_smiling_face:


#18

I would love to have classes for plus size !!! I am very plus size and as a not native speaker I also don’t mind the term. But the carefulness that you practise on you site already brought me a huge step closer to a better feeling for my body. I am still hoping to switch from eating too much to doing yoga too much! :wink:
Thank you for caring! I am looking forward to the plus size yoga classes!
Very kind regards
Sus


#19

Nicely said, @matthea.schumpelt.


#20

As a plus sized person practicing with Do Yoga With Me for 2+ years, I feel the classes already offered on the site are welcoming to all. However, it would be nice to have a class where plus sized persons are the target audience, so the flow is designed for our bodies instead of being modified to meet them. Calling the class “plus size yoga” is an accurate description & feels
ok to me. I’m excited to see the new classes! Good luck with the launch!


#21

Although I am not plus sized, I am not thin either. I feel that anything that helps people to feel welcome doing yoga, and to know they are not being judged is great.

I’ll definitely being checking out that classes because I know without a doubt that yoga doesn’t discriminate and that “plus sized” people can do yoga as well as anyone else.

Were all here to learn and evolve! Namaste.