In her new book, Yoga XXL: A Journey to Health for Bigger People, author Ingrid Kollak asserts “Yoga is for everybody.” In this thoughtful illustrated guide for beginners and beyond, Ingrid, a registered nurse and yoga teacher, focuses on the benefits of yoga for the mind and body, regardless of the body’s size.
At the DietsInReview compound, we’re routinely bombarded with books and DVDs about weight loss and exercise. Many titles in our library contain the same healthy buzz words over and over including, “Diet this” and “Walk off that,” so we were intrigued when “Yoga XXL” arrived in the mail.
The in-your-face title not only got our attention, it left us a bit stunned. Was it politically correct? Was it unkind? After interviewing the German-born author, I’m convinced that regardless of the title, her motivation was completely sincere.
Before she became a teacher, Ingrid remembers attending yoga classes where students with larger bodies were treated with either indifference or outright cruelty. “In classes I saw yoga teachers who plagued their students physically and mentally,” she recalls. “Many yoga teachers had an outdated view that all yoga students should look a certain way: lean and limber. I noticed that these teachers did not encourage or help students who did not fit that strict model.”
When Ingrid became a licensed yoga teacher she vowed to find ways to make the practice more inclusive. “I was determined to be a different kind of yoga teacher and help everyone enjoy yoga,” she explained. “As more big people joined my classes, I made it a priority to find variations and props to help them experience the benefits of yoga comfortably and safely.” In the guide, real women who are comfortable with their curvy bodies are photographed doing each pose. Instead of using random models, Ingrid interviewed a group of women who regularly attend the class, Yoga For Big People, and asked them to be part of the project.
Although her intentions are noble, to empower women and men to be comfortable in their own skin and not let society’s view of what a fit body should look like dissuade them from taking up the beneficial practice, we were still curious about that title. When we asked Ingrid if she thought people might be offended, she said, “Well, you never know what to expect. I talked to people who I wanted to address in my book and they liked the title, the photos, and the approach. I even managed to win with my editor!”.
I’ll let Ingrid leave you with today’s healthy mantra – “Take care of yourself – your body and mind. Find out what is good for you. If you love your curves – fine. If you love your tiny body – fine as well. Make sure you do what you want to do and defend the freedom to be as you are.”
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December 5th, 2013