January 11, 2013

Why Am I Still the Only Fat Girl in Yoga Class?

Moving from Tolerance of Differences to Celebration of Differences.

It’s 2013 and I am amazed at how the world continues to grow and evolve. We are so blessed to be living at this most incredible time in history.

I was recently watching a TV show from the mid-1990s on Netflix and was appalled at the content of the show. The language, theme and plot was exclusive and hateful. It was degrading to women, people of color and society in general.

This was a popular show in the mid-’90s called the “Gary Shandling Show.” It debuted an episode where the main character Gary Shandling was asked by his female producer to add an element to increase the ratings and make the sponsors happy. It was evident that he didn’t want to do this, and instead of seeking a compromise, he berated his boss based on her sex. His entire staff became hostile and derogatory to female producer. The show goes on to poke fun people who are different in the name of comedy.

How are we supposed to have greater community and understanding if our differences are challenged?

Wow—we have come a long way.

I feel the spirit of cooperation and inclusion is the new way of doing business and building community in 2013.

Now, how do we continue to move forward and make the world an even better place?

Women, people of color and people of all sexual orientations have come a long was from being on the periphery of society to the mainstream. The culture is shifting. More and more we are embracing that which is different from ourselves. We are moving away from the idea of tolerance of differences to the concept of celebration of that which makes us unique.

Look around you and embrace the entire world. It’s vast and incredible.

One place in which I still see diversity lacking is the yoga studio and yoga publications. The images I regularly see in these places are not what I see in the world. How do we encourage diversity within the yoga community?

As teachers, we use inspiring language and ideas that are universal and we stay away from words that are stereotypical and exclusionary. We embrace new students are are different with love and compassion. We take yoga to places it has never been.

We need to celebrate the people who are bringing diversity to yoga. People like Anna Guest Jelley of Curvy Yoga, bringing yoga to people with bigger bodies, Dr. Gail Parker of Taking Yoga Off the Mat—the Yoga of Inclusion, and Universal Empress Nadine McNeil.

These are some of the exceptional beings raising the vibration of the world through their celebration of diversity. Yoga is for everyone. We are learning how to expand our vision. We do this by encouraging, inspiring and relating to all human cultural experiences with sensitivity and awareness. We learn to open our hearts and minds to all the great possibilities of growth by embracing someone or something that is different from us.

If yoga is the way we raise the vibration of the world, and is one of the steps on the path to true happiness and enlightenment, then it must be inclusive. It must be there for everyone to enjoy. We must see different people doing yoga.

I invite and encourage you to stand up and be seen. Share your unique gifts with world. Make it your intention in 2013 to be a part of creating a space where everyone is welcome and included.

It starts with us. Together we inspire change and lift the vibration of the world.


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Ed: Brianna Bemel

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