Donna’s love affair with yoga began in 1999, but due to the usual pressures of life she never managed to keep it up. When she became ill with Bells Palsy in 2015, yoga helped her to come to terms with her illness and paved the way for a massive transformation in her life.
I believe that every body is a yoga body. However I cannot say that I have seen much diversity in the media or yoga classes in the UK. Sadly, I’m seeing individuals being put off yoga before they’ve even ventured onto the mat.
While I was taking part in an Instagram challenge, it was refreshing to come across Jessica Rihal’s inspiring yoga pictures. I admired the beauty of her postures and to me she exuded sheer strength and pride, which was to be expected of an awesome Yogi.
I was subsequently struck by our similarities, despite the differences in our bodies. We were both engaging in the same yoga challenge and just enjoyed our yoga practice. I contacted Jessica via Instagram and asked if I could use her picture to show that every body is a yoga body, after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
I compiled a collage of our pictures which show us both, simply enjoying yoga and the fact that it reached over 14,000 people on Facebook alone proved to me that there was an appetite to see more diversity in the yoga industry.
The image was simple but yet so powerful. Beyond words, all you see are two yogis with different bodies executing the same poses. By joining forces with Jessica, I wanted to illustrate that every body is suitable for yoga, which I believe we achieved by exhibiting our diversity in the best possible way.
Our bodies are unique in many respects but we are both receiving the same benefits of yoga. We are able to take away whatever it is we need from the practice, showing how accessible it can be.
By combining our pictures I wanted to normalize all body types and show how diverse the yoga landscape can be as we don’t see enough of it in the mainstream media.
To get more individuals on the mat, it’s important to make the image of yoga more representative of our society. This should go some way to presenting a mixture of body types, helping to move away from the stereotypical images we see depicted in the numerous mainstream media, including the yoga industry.
It’s about making yoga work for our bodies and not making our bodies work for yoga. As teachers we have the ability to modify the poses for the individuals who venture into our classes, truly making yoga accessible for all.
The truth is yoga does not discriminate against size, gender, ethnicity or shape. Yoga accepts you, as you are right here and right now.
As a teacher, I struggle to understand why we don’t see more diversity when it comes to promoting yoga and why the industry is not reaching out to a wider audience. Is it because these images do not conform to the stereotypical yoga image of someone, tall and slim with the ability to get their legs behind their heads?
People always say ‘never judge a book by its cover’. I have learnt never to tell a yogi by their appearance and make assumptions about their abilities. I have seen curvy yogis in class who do not realise how flexible they are, or that they have an amazing back bend.
Instagram has provided a platform for yogis who are considered ‘not the norm’, to share their practice and inspire others to get involved. Individuals like Dianne Bondy, Jessamyn Stanley and Dana Falscetti are just a few names who are changing the yoga landscape for the better.
We still have a long way to go to change perceptions of what a ‘yoga body’ looks like. For me it’s as simple as: Have a body; go to yoga. That’s what we are all about at CurveSomeYoga.
Donna Noble is the creator of CurveSomeYoga, a body positive yoga and self acceptance class for all genders and fitness levels done in a relaxed and supportive environment. Follow Donna on Instagram @ donnanobleyoga