Ever thought yoga just wasn’t for you? Maybe you’re too out of shape. Not flexible enough. Too fat. Too old.

Yeah, I thought all of those things too. In fact, I KNEW yoga wasn’t my jam. No way was this plus-sized, athletically-challenged girl going to be able to fold myself in half in front of a class full of lovely yoga magazine models. It just wasn’t the right form of exercise for me.

And there was my problem. Along with a lot of other things at the time, I thought of yoga as just another way to lose weight, get thinner, change my outsides. And because I wasn’t immediately “good at it” (whatever I thought that meant) I wasn’t interested in giving it much of a shot.

Until I got myself into some trouble. I got so caught up in chasing a certain aesthetic that I left health behind entirely. I became obsessed with weighing myself, with eating as little as possible, with counting and weighing and measuring to the exclusion of any thought of nutrients. To say the least, it was a dark space. I hated everything about myself, and thought that if I could just control it enough, that might change.

Instead, I ended up in a therapists office, where her expert advice was simple: Stop getting on the scale. Stop weighing, measure, or tracking food. Start listening to my body, keeping a journal of why I’m eating and how I’m feeling. Find forms of movement that bring me joy, slow me down, and help me learn to love my body.

I decided to give yoga a try, but no way was I walking into a studio. I don’t even remember how, but somehow I came across Erin & Bad Yogi. I did the 30-Day Yoga Challenge faithfully, doing a video every day, and I was hooked. I loved it. I loved the peacefulness, the mindset, and the fact that more often than not I worked up a good sweat too.

I started doing yoga more and more often, always at home, and my daughter joined in too. Now I not only had some downtime, but got more time with the kid too. The more I let myself settle into yoga, the more I realized that my body was NOT a limitation here. I could do yoga, enjoy it, get all of the benefits of a healthy practice, and my body size didn’t matter at all. The more I practiced, the more I loved it, and I started seeking out yoga challenges on Instagram to help challenge me to do more, work harder, and explore the edges of my practice.

The more challenges I did, the more people I found who defied the “typical yogi” mold. The more I found strong women who looked like me and did amazing things. The more I was inspired.

Something else happened too. As I took part in these challenges, I had to take pictures! Of my body! And share them on the internet! It was terrifying.

And then I saw those pictures, and people’s reactions to them. Sure, some were negative, but for the most part I saw support and love, and in some cases people being inspired by ME. It was…weird and wonderful. And I started to see my body for what it could DO instead of how I thought it LOOKED.

I started challenging myself further, and pulling off poses that I never, EVER thought I’d be able to do. Wheel was a HUGE win for me, and took a full year of trying every day before I got close. And then one day, it was just there. Hanging out in my practice, waiting for me to come along.

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I can love this body, and I work everyday to do so. Yoga, plus the meditation I’ve taken up alongside it, remind me to be mindful and present. I can focus on what I do and how I feel instead of the number on my jeans tag.

Thanks to yoga, I’m solidly loving ME nearly every day, and it’s teaching me that there’s nothing I can’t do, including yoga at the start line of a local 5K.

It’s even got me thinking about how else I can find joy in movement, which led to me taking the risk and signing up for a local Camp Gladiator camp…and I’ve loved every minute of it.

With help from Bad Yogi, here I am going to public yoga classes, working out at an early morning bootcamp with a bunch of strangers, and feeling more at home in my body every day. THAT is the power of yoga for me.

Now tell me about YOU? What has yoga done for you?

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