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Why Body-Positive Yoga Instructors Are So Important

by Boris Dzhingarov

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Finding a body-positive yoga instructor is important to truly get everything you want from a yoga class. Body-positive yoga instructors can be hard to find, but they are the foundation of a body-positive yoga class and making their fellow yoga students feel at ease. 

You may have never thought about your yoga instructor being body-positive, but here is why you should be looking for a body-positive yoga instructor, or aiming to be one yourself.

Making Their Students Feel Comfortable

diverse group of women in yoga class

Having a body-positive instructor can make anyone feel at ease, no matter what their size, shape, or ability. Larger-bodied people may feel more comfortable with a larger-bodied yoga instructor, or those who welcome students of all sizes. Being surrounded by people a lot smaller than you can make you feel out of your comfort zone, and yoga is not about feeling uncomfortable. Many health and yoga magazines and social media pages show women who do yoga as thin, young women, but this is not always the case. Body-positive yoga instructors should invite women of all ages and sizes to enjoy yoga and feel comfortable doing so.

All you have to do is take a look at the average woman's size here in the UK, which is now 5ft 5in, weighing in at 11st, and wears a size 16 in dresses and it's clear that the tall, thin, lanky, model-like yoga instructor doesn't represent the masses. It can be hard to look at these ultra-thin instructors and then feel confident in yourself that you too will look like them thanks to yoga. Women can be incredibly hard on themselves and are often their harshest critic, so going into a class already feeling uncomfortable is never a good start.

No Pressure to Perform at a Specific Level

yogi preparing for yoga class

Body-positive yoga instructors understand that not every student can do every move or they may find it harder than others. Yoga is not about pushing yourself to the limits; it’s about getting something positive from working out. Body-positive yoga instructors may not be able to do every move themselves, and they are happy to say this to their class.

Yoga should be relaxing for the mind, body, and soul. You should not feel as though you are under pressure to perform all kinds of fancy moves that are at a high skill level. If you cannot stretch into a position, it may not be right for you, or you need more practice in yoga. Good instructors will help those who are struggling.

It can also be helpful to look for an instructor who offers alternatives to the move they are doing. For example, maybe they are asking the class to perform a specific stretch that you aren’t capable of, then they should also offer an alternative that you can do that will still work your body and lengthen the muscles but without causing pain. This also relates back to making you feel comfortable in the class. Rather than being singled out for not being able to do the move, you’ll feel like you are getting just as much from the class and just pick the moves that work best for you.

Including Everyone

senior yoga class

Body-positive yoga is about including everyone, no matter what. Yoga was made for everyone and should not be inclusively for young, slim women. There are poses out there for people of all ages and abilities, and not everyone has full flexibility. Nobody should be turned away from yoga classes but unfortunately, it can happen.

Body-positive yoga instructors ensure that nobody is left out and that nobody is missing out on their chance to practice yoga just because of people’s predispositions about their age, size, or ability. Finding a body-positive yoga instructor is incredibly important for feeling included in a class. Yoga is supposed to promote a healthy mind and soul and, therefore, should not be about what is on the outside; this is not what yoga represents. Exercise should be available for everyone, regardless of the exercise.

In your search for a body-positive yoga instructor, you may even want to ask about the “typical student” in the class. You may come across classes that are better suited to your own personal needs and ones that you feel more comfortable in. For example, maybe you are a senior who is looking for a way to stay active in a way that is safe and gentle. Yoga can be that perfect solution. With that said you may also be more comfortable in a class that caters to your age group. That’s not to say you can’t do the moves that a 20-year-old can do, it just means you may feel more comfortable surrounded by others in the same age category.

Yoga is Becoming More Mainstream

legs and feet of yoga class participants

Where it used to be that yoga was practiced by “hippies” and “earth lovers”, today yoga has become very mainstream. It’s a wonderful way to stay active, gently recover from an injury that prevents you from working out at the gym, and even offers a chance to socialize with other people. With that said instructors are also coming to the realization that it can’t just be about performing all these crazy moves, rather it is about embracing the physical and mental well-being of all who want to participate.

In fact, yoga isn’t just for adults anymore, either, even kids and teenagers are getting in on the activity thanks to the fact it offers so many positive benefits. That brings in an even broader cross-section of body types and shapes so that a body-positive instructor becomes a key component in the process.

The New Approach to Yoga

teaching concept photo scrabble

Body-positive yoga instructors are the way forward to ensure that everyone gets a chance to practice yoga in an environment where they feel welcome and comfortable. No longer should anyone miss out on a yoga class due to being discriminated against, as they do not look the way someone who practices yoga “should”. Body-positivity needs to be promoted in yoga, and that starts with the instructor. 

Start working on being in shape and loving yourself at the same time! A yoga and wellness retreat is the perfect place to embrace yourself and human diversity, among like-minded people.

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