A Fat Femme’s Experience with clothing Optional Yoga

Written by Angel (they/she)

Content Warning: I am going to talk about my own experience with body shaming, fitness based yoga and compare it to this experience.

I wasn’t going to go. I arranged for one of the board members to be the co-host (thank you for stepping up, you know who you are), just so that I didn’t have to go.

I used to love yoga. I discovered a very colonialized version of yoga when I was younger, and I love the way that sun salutations feel, the strength in my body was showcased by this very fitness based style of yoga. As I began to learn cultural appropriation, and the origin of yoga I was also learning to renavigate my own body, due to age, health conditions and such. My body had changed, and my compassion for myself was being impacted by internalized body shaming. I tried to get back into yoga, searching for a more mindful practice… My luck with this has not been great.

As I have aged (and as the ongoing pandemic related sedentary lifestyle impacted my body), I have found that many yoga instructors are just not aware of how to support bodies that are not at their physical peak. Yoga was HURTING me. And not just during, but for days after I would struggle to move without pain. The instructors said all the right things (listen to your body), while also making it clear that a GOOD BODY is one that can hold these poses, do these movements, and that the goal should be to strengthen and slim one’s body to meet these goals. The instructors were young, white, fit. They meant well, I am sure, but I could not find a class that worked for my body, or for my view that all bodies are good bodies and that we need to focus on feeling good, not size.

And there I was, Doing yoga with the air on my skin, with a class full of people. And it was amazing. Freeing. Rather than being distracted by what my body looks like, I was focused on how it felt. Every movement was alive, every breath centred me. THIS was yoga. THIS was mindfulness. It was beautiful. Five out Five Stars. Highly Reccomend

Photo used with permission, we posed with undies for your comfort ♥

Plus, clothing optional? I do my best to have a supportive relationship with my body. I am comfortable being nude-but while doing yoga? All those poses? At least with clothing I can hide the jiggle from myself, and just concentrate on the sensation of the activity, right?

Having heard great things about Nav’s connection with yoga, I reallly wanted to try… so I went.

I wasn’t thinking about anything but the feel of the movements, the messages from my body. I was.. happy.

Nav hosted this session, and he brought with him an aura of acceptance. He talked us softly through each movement, supported our breathing. We flowed. We laughed. We sighed. Our bodies lengthened, softened and provided us support. As we held on to our toes, enjoying the freedom of infants in exploring our motions and emotions, we were free, content, peaceful. Even laying there, letting our bodies relax, my mind stayed with my body. Amazing.

So if you were curious, and wanted to check it out, I welcome you. Wear some clothes, or no clothes-whatever works for you. We have a few extra mats.

Thank you Nav. See you next class!

4 thoughts on “A Fat Femme’s Experience with clothing Optional Yoga”

  1. Thank you Angel for such a wonderful post. I can certainly relate to the experience of internalized body shaming as well as negative judgement and rejection in a yoga studio environment. Long story short, this is SatinMatt (he/him) 🙂 and back in 2018 I was enjoying attending yoga classes with a close friend at a local yoga studio here in St Albert called “Lahari Yoga”. So naturally being the satin enthusiast that I am I would wear a satin robe to the studio as well as a pair of my satin harem yoga pants. So during the class my satin robe would come off and I would enjoy practicing yoga while only wearing my pair of satin harem yoga pants (with layered satin undies, of course). So I wasn’t nude at all, I only wasn’t wearing a shirt. Over time this made multiple people at the studio feel uncomfortable and negative towards me to the point where it was unanimously decided to permanently ban me from the studio via an email; not even signed by any one person and without actually, fully and in detail explaining exactly how I made others feel uncomfortable and if there was anything else I may have said or done that could have contributed to the discomfort and dislike felt towards me.

    This was very soul crushing and traumatizing for me as yoga was and always will be a very important part of my life; I remember the feeling of how time stopped as I was reading the email, that sense and feeling of judgement, rejection and dismissal was heart-wrenching.

    Since then I have not practiced yoga with anyone else at any yoga studio. I’ve only practiced and enjoyed yoga on my own, at my local swimming pool, in its steam room in the form of hot yoga. During the pandemic this has been both very challenging and very limited for me with having hardly any access to the pool/steam room.

    I would love to check out this yoga class with Nav at some point in the future in an attempt to get back into studio based yoga! Which studio is it and where is it located in Edmonton? Thank you again for the great post Angel and thank you to whomever took the time to read this novel to the end ☺️.

    SatinMatt (he/him)

    1. It is amazing to see that you have so much deep love for yoga practice. You have explained the feelings and thoughts so nicely, which is going to encourage many more people towards making their body and mind better through yoga movements. This practice is definitely for all bodies all persons. Thanks for joining!

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