Body image of a yoga teacher

Do You Have To Be Skinny To Be a Yoga Teacher?

When people think of yoga, the image in their head is often of a super-thin, model-like woman in tight clothes doing a complicated pose in an exotic location. But is this really what all yoga teachers have to look like?

You don’t have to be skinny to be a yoga teacher. Ultimately, passion for the practice and knowledge of technique are more important indicators of a good teacher than weight. Some may even be encouraged to try yoga if they could take a class from a teacher who looks like them.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss why you don’t have to be skinny to teach yoga, and several reasons yoga teachers are usually thin. Additionally, I’ll suggest tips on how to feel confident on the yoga mat at any size and recommend a few body-positive yoga influencers to follow for inspiration.

Why You Don’t Have To Be Skinny To Teach Yoga

While a lot of yoga teachers are notoriously skinny, it’s definitely not a requirement. The following explains why:

  • Yoga, at its core, is about joining the body and breathing together in movement, and there’s no size requirement for that. As long as you have a body and can breathe, you can do yoga. If you can practice yoga and be disciplined to learn, you can eventually master it and become a teacher, no matter what number shows up on the scale.
  • Yoga is an adaptable practice that anyone of any size can do. If you can’t do the most advanced yoga poses due to your size, age, health, or whatever else, you can adapt your yoga practice and teaching to reflect the reality of what your body is capable of. Body-positive yoga classes are becoming more popular, in which yogis adopt the poses, so they’re easier for people with bigger bodies to perform.
  • There are props available that can make your yoga instruction easier. I recommend Tumaz Yoga Strap, Manduka Yoga Blocks, and AJNA Yoga Bolster Pillow.
  • Commitment to the exercise and proper training are more important teaching credentials than what you look like. If you love yoga, want to share that passion with others, and are properly trained and certified to teach, your dedication and knowledge are far more essential than how much you weigh.
  • Your size might even be a benefit for your business and your students! Those new to practicing yoga may feel more comfortable learning from somebody in a body that looks like theirs. In this way, your unconventional yoga body encourages someone else to pick up an exercise that is good for the body and the mind.

Reasons Many Yoga Teachers Are Thin

While being skinny isn’t a requirement for becoming a yoga teacher, many yoga instructors are quite thin. Certainly, some may have been born in bodies that are just naturally thinner, and their physique has little to nothing to do with their profession.

However, here are some yoga-related reasons some yoga teachers are skinny:

  • Practicing yoga requires the strengthening of the body, which leads to more fat loss.
  • Some forms of yoga, such as hot yoga, can burn a lot of calories.
  • Due to the spiritual element of the exercise, many yoga teachers are vegan or mostly plant-based, which may help them stay thin.
  • If done regularly, yoga can increase your metabolism by increasing oxygen intake and warming up the body.

Ways To Feel Confident Teaching Yoga No Matter What Your Size

Now that you know you don’t need to be skinny to teach yoga, here are some ways to feel completely prepared before leading your first course:

  • Practice and perfect your technique at home with online classes. You don’t have to worry about what others are saying or thinking about your body in your home, and you can focus on your love for yoga.
  • Find the right yoga certification program for you. There are many options, including online certification programs, so don’t settle for a program where you feel uncomfortable.
  • Invest in yoga clothes that make you feel confident in your body. I love the Core 10 Spectrum High Waist Capri Leggings available in up to a 3X. Athletic Works Relaxed Yoga Pants are available in up to a 5X and are perfect for any yoga pose. The FOREYOND Plus Size Mesh Workout Top is perfect for plus-size yogis.
  • Fake it until you make it. It’s a cliché because it’s true! If you keep acting like you deserve to be up in front of a class teaching the exercise you love, you’ll also feel that way eventually.

Yogis That Prove Not All Yoga Teachers Are Skinny

If you need examples of non-skinny yoga teachers for inspiration, look no further! These influencers are challenging the perception of the super-thin-yogi (and look amazing doing it!):

  • Jessamyn Stanley speaks out on how one can be fat and healthy. She’s a yoga instructor who prioritizes promoting wellness to those usually excluded from the health narrative, particularly overweight people.
  • Sarah Sapora is a certified Kundalini yoga instructor who offers yoga classes online. She emphasizes how yoga has helped her find peace within her mind and her body and encourages others to seek that same peace.
  • Jessica Rihal became a certified teacher after she noticed the lack of diversity in the yoga world. She encourages plus-size people to practice yoga and become teachers themselves.

Final Thoughts

Anybody in any body size can practice yoga, meaning anybody can become a yoga teacher, even if they aren’t skinny — yogis like Jessamyn Stanley, Sarah Sapora, and Jessica Rihal are good examples.

The exercise is mostly about finding peace by connecting your body with your breath and not about weight loss or getting thin, so how skinny you are (or aren’t!) shouldn’t matter to your students. As long as you’re passionate about the practice and are properly trained, you can teach yoga, no matter how much you weigh.

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