I believe in making yoga available to every body. But, way before I started teaching, there were trail blazers who were making yoga available to people who never thought they could OM with the skinny girls. Meera is one of those yoga teacher.
Meera has been teaching yoga for over twenty years. She was trained at Satchidanada Ashram (also known as Yogaville–she thinks it’s a whimsical name, I am not fond of it!) She was lucky enough to be there when the guru Sri Swami Satchidanada was alive, I went there much later.
Meera has graciously offered to do a guest blog for me and I am so honored, truly honored. I’ll let her words introduce Big Yoga to you, then I’ll tell you how really wonderful she is.
Someone once told me, if you’re going to think, you may as wellthink BIG! Years ago, after I’d been teaching Yoga for 20 years or so, I had an idea for a class designed for the larger Yogi. I myself had always been curvy, and as I got older, it became harder to keep the weight off. Because I’d been doing Yoga for such a long time, I knew intuitively how to adapt my asana practice for my changing body, and realized what a great benefit these adaptations could be for other folks who want to try Yoga, but are afraid they can’t do it.
I began teaching Big Yoga in 2000, in Santa Monica, California. I quickly realized the need for a variety of adaptations, because of the variety of bodies that came to class! Everyone was so different! Some carried their weight in the belly, others in the boobs, or bum. Our class became a delightful exploration of how to do a specific pose—originally designed for a specific benefit—in our own particular way. The main idea was to stay comfortable and steady—ideas that come right out of ancient Yoga scripture: sukkha and dukkha.
My Guru, Sri Swami Satchidananda, was famous for leading the peace chants at the beginning of the Woodstock celebration in the 60’s. He was loved by the hippies for his gentle, loving nature, and his acceptance of the new generation and their desire for peace. One of my favorite sayings of his was “Take it easy, not lazy.” He loved language, and was fond of double-entendre expressions. When I came up with the idea of Big Yoga, I knew it came from him because of the double meaning—big in terms of the bigger body, but also big as in expansive! The various practices of Yoga include prayer, devotion, selfless service, introspection, as well as the more obvious practice of hatha yoga and meditation. Big Yoga is patterned after his “brand” of Yoga, called Integral Yoga®. Their ashram is in central Virginia, and is whimsically called “Yogaville”.
After I taught Big Yoga for a couple years, I produced a video of our practice, which later lead to a 2nd video and my book, published by Square One Publishers. These are great resources for anyone who might be intimidated going to a regular class because of challenges such as extra weight, stiffness, injury or simply couch-potato-ism. You can practice at your own rate in the privacy of your own home. I plan to create more videos, and am also working on a new book, Stress Strategies.
Last year, I was approached by a manufacturer of plus-size Yoga/travel/lounge-wear, who wanted me to help her promote her line, Elsa Dee. There are 9 different items, in 4 colors, from capri pants, dresses, jackets and T-shirts. All the clothes are 95% cotton, with 5% spandex for comfort. The sizes range from Large to 3X. You can see the line on my website, www.BigYogaOnline.com.
You don’t have to be thin to enjoy the benefits of Yoga, and now with the Elsa Dee line, you can look good doing it!
Meera’s groundbreaking book, Big Yoga: A Simple Guide for Bigger Bodies, published by Square One publishers, won the Benjamin Franklin award for best book in Health and Wellness. It is the definitive book on the history, benefits and techniques of Yoga for the plus-size body. It includes images of Meera demonstrating over 40 asanas.