Meeting with Valerie, also known on social media as @biggalyoga, on my last day in California before traveling back home for the summer, was a truly beautiful and resonate way to complete a full-circle moment created when I was first introduced to her body positive yoga on Instagram. When I first came across Valerie’s yoga practice, I was in complete and utter awe of how freely and fluidly she moved her body strongly in poses I never thought possible for larger bodies like mine (perhaps due to the fact that I had never really even seen/been exposed to bigger bodies practicing before this year). When we met on this quintessentially gorgeous Oakland day at Lake Merritt, I felt grateful to be in the presence of someone who had inspired me immensely and helped to re-ignite my own affinity for yoga…both on and off the mat!
Originally, I had thought I would conduct an interview of sorts with Valerie, but I quickly realized that there was no better way for us to communicate than through resonate movement. For someone like myself who is extremely verbal and cerebrally-driven, tapping back into my whole body has become a daily practice of self-love, and I appreciate Valerie’s way of wearing her voice so eloquently through yoga in this way. In fact, Valarie created the hashtag campaign #selflovingyogis, which is a powerful statement that I choose to take part in. I would be remiss in not mentioning the fashion fact that we were both hardcore representing in our Wear Your Voice tees and matching Rainbeau Curves pants. So, although we did have time to talk, I found the deepest connection through moving and breathing together – sharing space on the mat while daring to take up space in the world. The following photographs are a result of that resonance, taken by Sada Reed, and range from powerful partner yoga, to Valerie’s solo skills, to declaring #FuckFatPhobia.
Being able to do yoga alongside this warrior womyn felt both fun and freeing, as well as healing. As part of my own self-loving yogi practice, I have allowed myself to release the fixation on “pose perfection,” as well as thoughts of skill level comparison, which may in the past have also blocked me from feeling free on the mat with Valerie, despite the resonance another big gal body provided! I loved the feeling of allowing myself to flow alongside a supportive body positive being who defies the pervading capitalistic features that American yogis represent: petite, white, privileged, and lulu-lemoned out!
After our little yoga session, I was happy to step aside and watch this goddess yogi in action. I felt honored to witness firsthand what thousands of followers only get to see behind the tiny squares of their screens – what all of my mirror neurons and synapses have been waiting to fully fire on – big gal yoga in action! With her stellar sequences, Valerie helps to wash away years of internalized fat phobic stereotypes that had built up so strongly in my brain, they created an invisible mental and physical block on such movements. You don’t have to take my word for it, though, check out some of Valerie’s moves below:
I'm human. I break. I try to keep positive and keep to myself, but the honest truth is that I'm pretty depressed right now about some things. On and off crying for the past couple days, and having anxiety attacks that I can't stop. All I wanted to do today was put on cute lingerie, a cute dress, and binge watch The Walking Dead, as I cried. (Yes, dramic, I know.) Things will pass, I know it always does. I'm just consumed right now by my feelings that I can't stop. I know there's always a light even in the darkest places of my mind. Just have to wait it out.
BIRTHDAY YOGA! 🎉 Day 19 Sirsasana / Headstand for the #CrazyBigInversions July Yoga Challenge with @crazycurvy_yoga and @biggalyoga Sponsors : @fractal.9 @stardancerdesigns @lineagewear @haeskit How to participate: ● Follow hosts @crazycurvy_yoga and @biggalyoga and sponsors @stardancerdesigns @lineagewear @haeskit and @fractal.9 ! ● Check in with us for the daily pose. We will have detailed instructions to get into the pose! ● Post a photo or video of yourself in the daily pose! Make sure you tag #CrazyBigInversions in your post! (Make sure your profile is public) All levels welcomed, please take any variation or modification you are comfortable with! Shorts by @abombapparel 🐟
Day 6 of the #SelfLovingYogis June yoga challenge with @biggalyoga and sponsored by @fractal.9 and @stardancerdesigns ❔What is your favorite food? 🅰Pho is my favorite comfort food. Especially on a cold rainy day, it's a perfect combination 🍲! —————————————————————————- 🌻There will be 2 options for the daily pose. OPTION 1 You can either do the daily backbend/heart opener pose that I am doing that day or OPTION 2 You can choose to do your own backbend/heart opener pose of the day. 🌻 How to participate: 1. Take a photo of yourself in option 1 or 2 of the daily yoga pose, and answer the daily question. 2. Tag #SelfLovingYogis so I can see all you lovely people. (Profile should be public so I can see.) 3. Tag myself @biggalyoga and the Sponsors @stardancerdesigns and @fractal.9 Leggings by @rainbeaucurves ❤ #yogachallenge #yogalove #yogatherapy #yogaforeverybody #yogaforeveryone #yogaateverysize #yogaatanysize #yogaforall #yoga #yogi #yogini #curvyyoga #curvyyogi #plussizeyoga #fatyoga #biggalyoga #yogapractice #heartopeners #backbends #selflove #bodylove #bodypositive #bodypositivity #namaste #motivated #motivation #lovethebodyyouarein
Day 24 Vrschikasana / Scorpion Pose for the #CrazyBigInversions July Yoga Challenge with @crazycurvy_yoga and @biggalyoga Sponsors : @fractal.9 @stardancerdesigns @lineagewear @haeskit From Feathered Peacock – Coming into a neutral downward dog, and drop to the forearms to a Dolphin Pose. Widen the fingers onto the mat, or you can use a block between the hands, or clasp the hands together. Make sure the shoulders are up and not sinking into the arms keeping the head up. Lengthen the back as you lift up one leg, and use the momentum to kick up to bring both the legs up over the hips. Making sure to not compress the spine by lengthening, lift the head up, arch the back by dropping the hips forward. Once your back will go as far as it can, point and drop the feet towards the head. (Always stay safe!) How to participate: ● Follow hosts @crazycurvy_yoga and @biggalyoga and sponsors @stardancerdesigns @lineagewear @haeskit and @fractal.9 ! ● Check in with us for the daily pose. We will have detailed instructions to get into the pose! ● Post a photo or video of yourself in the daily pose! Make sure you tag #CrazyBigInversions in your post! (Make sure your profile is public) All levels welcomed, please take any variation or modification you are comfortable with! Bralette by @torrid Shorts by @fractal.9 💜 Use the code FRACTAL9PLUS to receive 15% off your order!
Here we are pausing to represent my ongoing #FuckFatPhobia campaign, acknowledging that yogis are activists who can swear for a good cause!
Had fun meeting Rachel of #wearyourvoice magazine and Sada! As well as running into Xela of @rainbeaucurves ! ❤ Had a little photo shoot for some stuff Rachel has in mind for an article for @wearyourvoicemag ! We were twinning in Rainbeau Curves leggings and Wear Your Voice tops! Also did a cute bikini photoshoot 😀👙#fuckfatphobia #wearyourvoicemag #selflovingyogis #effyourbodystandards #biggalyoga #bodypositive #rainbeaucurves
As Valerie and I were shooting, who should come walking down the lake path? None other than Rainbeau Curves coordinator extraordinaire: Xela Gaerlan! (I first met Xela when doing an article on favorite First Friday fashions and she asked me to model for the amazing new “plus size” activewear line). Our original serendipitous meeting has resulted in so many more planned ones – and a couple unplanned such as on this day! I truly appreciate the comprehensive, diverse, and inclusive work Xela is doing while existing in a body that looks nothing like mine.
This article would not be complete without adding the powerful words of Feminist Audre Lourde that sums up how I feel about honoring self-love and further visibilising body positive yoga: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Always remember to engage in this most righteous form of political warfare through whichever form you choose! In the meantime, don’t forget to follow along with our ongoing body positive campaign: #DropTheTowel this summer and all year round – another form of yoga in action reminding us to take our practice off the ‘mat and into the world’! What do you think? Comment below!
Hey everyone don't forget the #GlowYourHips July yoga challenge starts tomorrow July 6th! Come join @yogipeach and myself @ biggalyoga for some hips openers! Let's glow those hips! How to participate: ● Follow @yogipeach and myself @biggalyoga as well as our sponsors @samastah @rainbeaucurves @wearyourvoicemag @samudrakala ● Share our flyer and tag a couple friends to join in! ● Take a photo or video of yourself in the daily pose and tag #GlowYourHips (Make sure your profile in public so we can see all of you lovely yogis!) Everyone is welcome to join. You can use any variation or modification, and we will have details on how to get into each pose of the day! #yogachallenge #julyyogachallenge #yogaforeverybody #yogaforeveryone #yogaateverysize #yogaatanysize #yogaforall #yogapractice #yoga #yogi #yogini #namaste #motivated #motivation
Thank you all who joined @yogipeach and I for the #GlowYourHips challenge! You all are such beautiful and lovely yogis! Congrats to: [email protected] for being gifted a beautiful Meditation Mala from @samastah ! [email protected] for being gifted a beautiful Ocean and Yoga inspired piece of jewelry by @samudrakala ! [email protected] for being gifted a piece of curvy active wear by @rainbeaucurves ! [email protected] for being gifted a swag bag of goodies from the awesome online magazine representing "issues such as LGBTQI rights, race, gender and body politics, and lifestyle & entertainment, where everyone’s voice is represented and heard" @wearyourvoicemag! So much love to everyone! 😙 ❤ #yogachallenge #yogaswag #yogacommunity