I woke up this morning to a news article about model Cheryl Tiegs calling out Sports Illustrated’s first full-figured cover model Ashley Graham. At first I ignored it but since it was trending on Facebook, I took the bait and clicked on the articles. It saddened me that our society has placed such a premium on tall, skinny bikini clad models. In fact, the fact that I am plumpy — scratch that, I am obese — is what stopped me from doing yoga in the beginning.

Lucky for me I chose to ignore stereotypes and give yoga a try.

Admittedly at this point in my journey, I am not the healthiest. I did gain weight lately and I know that I have slid back to my unhealthy eating patterns. 

Nonetheless, the reason why I am writing this post is to highlight one thing: not all overweight looking people are unhealthy. 

What makes me say that? I say it from experience. You see, at one point in my life I weighed almost 250 pounds. I definitely was not healthy then. My digestion was shot, my menstrual cycle crazy and my mental and emotional health was at its lowest. I had hormone issues, which, coupled with depression took me into a downward spiral.

Luckily I got help. Then I started to lose wieght and change my lifestyle. At the peak of my weight loss, I had weighed only 135 pounds from 215, but while my external physique was at its slimmest and “healthiest” looking, I was far from it. In fact, it was at that time that I was at my weakest. My immune system was so low I contracted illness after illness. I was so sick at one point that I could not even tolerate water and keep it down. How was that healthy? 

Eventually I found balance. I went back to about 150 pounds, was fully vegetarian, and was practicing yoga at least 5 times a week and walking my dogs twice a day for about 15-30 minutes. I still looked overweight, but that was the healthiest I had ever been in my life. My bowel movements were regular and consistent, my hormone issues were resolved. The migraines and headaches I had a lot of in the past were virtually non-existent. I no longer had asthma attacks and my immune system was well in place. I was mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually well. But I was still fat.

So yes, Ms. Cheryl Tiegs, while I agree that the glofirication of an overweight body bears many dangers as it may leave people complacent or even encourage continuing unhealthy eating patterns, I disagree that someone who has some extra weight in them cannot be healthy. In fact I’d like to argue that, for example, an athlete who is strong and svelte may not always be healthier than someone with a few extra pounds for one reason or the other. If someone is in pain because they’ve overworked their body, I don’t think that’s necessarily healthy. I’d further like to argue that a healthy body is not really measured by its size alone, but by how effectively it functions. 

It believe is time we celebrate our bodies, curves and all…or lack of it for that matter. This does not mean someone like me shouldn’t work out and try to lose weight, it means we should work on being the healthiest versions of ourselves, inside and out. 

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As many yogis do, I first fell in love with the physical practice of yoga. Being able to do asanas was exhilarating and exciting. Over time I discovered the more subtle practices of breathwork and mindfulness, though I still am growing in my pranayama and meditation practices. I have, however, in the past 1,777 days taken my yoga off of the mat by practicing gratitude daily. It has changed my life immensely as it empowered me to claim victory over seemingly bad experiences and taught me the fine art of letting things slide. Do give it a try :) every day, take time to honor what you are grateful for and see for yourself how the power of your words can open up new possibilities and change your perspective

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After many weeks of mulling about what to call my yoga-based Instagram account and how to brand myself in this forum, I decided there was no better handle than my name. 

Follow me @ria.tirazona.

With this forum I hope to inspire those who follow me to explore new pathways to wellness by practicing yoga with karuna (compassion), kindness and self-acceptance. I will share too the therapeutic benefits of yoga and other practices as we, drawing from the words of my website, Open to Grace :) join me go through life, one asana at a time :) #yoga #wellness #yogaforeverbody #curvyyogi #curvyyoga #health #instapost

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Staying home and rewarding my nursemaid. After two and a half days of emphasizing and demo-ing the value of strengthening and stabilizing instead of hanging in your joints or overplaying your flexibility, I can barely walk without wincing as my achilles tendonitis is acting up again. Note to self: stop doing what you say you shouldn’t do. Haha. 

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Over lunch, my colleagues and I were discussing about how it sometimes can difficult to practice with compassion. It’s easier to jump to conclusions or to be dismissive, but that’s not why we practice, right?  And so when things get tough, I remind myself to tap into that compassion and maybe things will change.

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