Our #ThisIsActive Q+As are part of an ongoing series to show how plus size women live their active lives. Share your active life with us on social media by using #ThisIsActive on Instagram or send your story to social @ junoactive.com for a chance to be featured.
Ani is a self-described fat activist, registered Dietitian-to-be, and proud YogaQuest teacher. She is currently working on her Master’s in Public Health Nutrition and has found a passion in helping people of all sizes find compassionate and research-based care. After getting hooked by the open and accessible nature of yoga at YogaQuest, Ani discovered yet another way to bring health to people of larger sizes though teaching yoga. Yoga has been a key part of Ani’s self-care to manage anxiety and depression, improve body image and body confidence, and find joyful movement.
1. How did you get started teaching yoga?
I really ended up in training kind of unexpectedly. I’ve always enjoyed practicing yoga, but never saw myself as a teacher. But after discovering YogaQuest, I saw how powerful it was to have teachers that represented me. Both in body size/shape, but also just in similar ways of approaching yoga overall. So, when YogaQuest started recruiting for their body positive, trauma-informed, narrative yoga teacher training, I got really excited about the prospect of teaching yoga to my community.
2. Why is it important to guide an exercise class with body positive principles?
To me, body positive principles in a yoga class are important for so many reasons. First of all, safety. In traditional yoga spaces, there can be pressure to perform yoga poses in very specific ways, even though our bodies come in so many different shapes, sizes, and configurations. Even some as simple as how the leg bone articulates with the hip bone means that the angles it can make will be different from person to person. So, emphasizing that we all have different bodies – which means poses will look different – is critical for avoiding injury. In addition, and no less important, yoga is truly for every body type and not just for the slender/white/female among us. When we only show that one body type, it drives away 90% of people from the practice of yoga, even though we can all benefit from the practice no matter what our body looks like, today or ever.