What first brought you to yoga?
It was the 60′s, I wanted to get high! But I was hoping to get high without becoming a drug addict! (and don’t forget–pot was really illegal in those days, making us SO paranoid). 40 years later, I’m still loving the practice.
It has enabled me to remain healthy, flexible, and happy as I get into my golden years.
What did you think yoga was before you tried?
Indian men wearing diapers–that was my first impression of yoga.
Today, we see young skinny women in expensive outfits doing really crazy poses that are available to them probably because they were former gymnasts or dancers. In the mid-60′s when I was trying to find a yoga teacher, all I could find was an Indian lady who had learned a few poses back in India. Trust me, EVERYTHING has changed, except the timelessness of yoga.
How do you define a “yoga body?”
A yoga body is ANY BODY, ANYWHERE in the universe. That’s why I started Big Yoga! I wanted to see more body types on the mat, so I modeled yoga with my own, bigger yoga body. It’s my mission to keep adapting the traditional yoga poses for folks that have stayed away from yoga because they thought they were too fat, too stiff, too broken, or too out of shape. There is a yoga system for all these bodies.
How do you identify as being Audacious in life or your yoga practice?
When I started promoting yoga for bigger bodies back in the early 2000′s, I didn’t know of anyone else who was doing yoga for us curvy types. When the first Big Yoga DVD came out, (2002) it was one of 2 videos (yes, it was on VHS!) on the market. That took some balls. So, yes, I am definitely a bodacious, audacious, delicious yogini!
What would you say to someone who is interested in trying yoga?
Forget all the pictures of yoga in the media and start investigating classes near you. Meet the teacher, and get a vibe about their expertise in adapting yoga for the bigger body. Or try a video. Borrow one from the library and when you find one that suits you, go out and buy your own copy. Do what you can and build on that. Make sure you do some pranayama (breathing techniques) and deep relaxation–that’s the dessert of the yoga class.
Tell us more…
I’ve been teaching for almost 40 years, studying with the Integral Yoga Institute and at the feet of my Guru, Swami Satchidananda. As I got older, I got fatter–I was never a skinny mini, but menopause moved the needle quite a bit to the right, so I began to adapt my hatha practice! My first DVD, Big Yoga Hatha 1, came out in 2002, than another DVD, Big Yoga Flex-Ability came out in 2010. My first book, Big Yoga: A Simple Guide for Bigger Bodies, came out in 2010 and won the Benjamin Franklin award for best book in health and wellness. I have a new book that will publish in early 2015, Big Yoga for Less Stress. I live at the Yogaville ashram in Virginia part time where I write, teach, meditate and eat-sleep -and -breathe yoga. My summers are spent in Michigan where I live at the lakeshore and swim as often as possible.