06/27/2015 08:24 EDT | Updated 06/28/2016 05:59 EDT

I Don't Have to Lose Weight to Be a Yogi

Valerie Sagun

The way I started my yoga practice was not very glamorous or exciting, but it was meaningful and started something that gave so much back to me.

I started yoga at my university as a kinesiology class. The class was taught by yoga instructor Laurence Caughlan where we met for two days for a couple hours. In class we did Surya Namaskar (sun salutations), Hatha yoga and learned extra beginning poses. From the first class I could already tell that yoga was going to be difficult even though I really enjoyed it.

I never want to leave this beach. Just perfect. 🌞🌊

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I never was intimidated at the fact that I was learning yoga from a slim older white man. He was always very encouraging even when I doubted myself that I ever could get into a difficult pose. Relating to us that even in his yoga practice it took him years and dedication to achieve more complicated poses. Before yoga I would always be that person telling myself, "Oh I'll try that when I lose some weight," "I'm too big to do that," or "I'll buy that so it will encourage me to lose weight."

One of those endless cycles to nowhere. Always thinking that I couldn't enjoy something now because I was too big to try it out. Starting yoga helped me get over the mental block that I put on myself. The block where it has been ingrained into our minds that big people can't do certain things now and that losing weight is the only way to achieve all these great things.

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Before I started yoga, many of my friends were getting into rock climbing. Some of my friends encouraged me to try it out but I always felt that I was too big to give rock climbing a chance. That I wasn't strong enough to carry my weight on small holds or even if I tried top roping that a harness or rope would rip from my weight. After practising yoga, I felt I could try anything. It helped give me that push to try the activities that I was always interested in but doubted myself, like skydiving and rock climbing.

A photo posted by @biggalyoga on

Yoga has taught me to own up to myself and who I am now. Not who I was or who I could be. I never shamed my body or hated it, but I'm glad to be at a happy relationship with it. I look at my big chubby body and am happy and content with it. I feel it is important to see bigger bodied people out there. When I first started yoga it was very rare and uncommon to see bigger yogis practicing yoga. Now I am so ecstatic that there so many people who are trying yoga for themselves.

I'm really glad that my visual presence through Instagram has been so positive for people. I feel I am able to connect and reach out to people and change their perspectives about bigger bodied people practicing yoga. Some who truly believed that that bigger people couldn't do yoga. I'm honoured to be an ambassador of spreading body positivity and self love through yoga out to the world.

A photo posted by @biggalyoga on


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