Yoga's for everyone, says Fat Yoga author Sarah Harry

Sarah Harry - Yoga practitioner and teacher


The author of Fat Yoga, Sarah Harry, is considered an expert in body image.

She has been practising yoga for over twenty years and offers yoga classes to people with bigger bodies. The book is written for all who would like to learn yoga, because Sarah is convinced that yoga can and should be enjoyed by everyone.

When Sarah discovered yoga, she found a way to connect with her body that allowed her to accept that she was never going to be slender and flexible. She had been shamed and made to feel that she didn’t belong in a conventional yoga class because of her size. She wanted to help others who had felt excluded from classes to have the information that they needed to continue with yoga because she believes that everyone can enjoy yoga.

No-one is too old, too fat, or too inflexible. So this book is for everyone who is not at home in a class and would like to understand how to adapt postures for their body type.

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A key part of yoga practice is being able to be mindful, that is observing ourselves, being curious about our experiences, and accepting what is happening now. It helps to decrease our levels of anxiety, slow our thought processes down, and deal with things that we find difficult. Breath practice is a part of yoga and helps to give internal focus and move into a relaxed state.

Sarah explains how you can substitute the things that you already have at home for conventional yoga props, such as using cushions instead of bolsters, and some heavyweight books instead of blocks. Unless you are flexible, you will most likely find that using props will help you get into positions that you wouldn’t have thought possible.

There is no good pain in the practice of yoga and Sarah says that you should skip movements that cause discomfort. She provides a number of work-arounds that will help people with specific injuries, such as turning the Downward-Facing Dog into the Wall Dog, which is same pose facing the wall instead of on the floor.

Towards the end of the book is one of my favourite exercises – the Joyous Breath.

Sarah explains that your brain releases hormones when you smile, and it doesn’t register the difference between a real smile and a fake one. Sarah uses this exercise to relieve anxiety, and it can be done anywhere, anytime. It involves taking a long slow breath in through the nose, and then as you exhale, smile and drop your chin onto your chest. Inhale and repeat.

Fat Yoga by Sarah Harry is available from Dymocks