This Yoga Teacher Gained 40 Pounds To Test Herself
According to Hall, she decided to gain weight in order to "slay the notion that people who do yoga need to look like the beauties of the cover of magazines." Hall writes:
I wanted to use my own body as my art piece to start a conversation about identity, self-image and beauty, so I made my canvas heavy and gained weight. I was trying to prove a point that size shouldn’t matter but I uncovered fears that lay beyond my physical frame.
Hall found that her experiment was not only physical — it was emotionally exhausting, too:
The stories I made up about what people thought of me were changing and I was emotionally affected. Suddenly, my self-worth was proving to be connected to how good I looked wearing spandex — something I completely denied giving a shit about before this experiment — and that pissed me off. Guilt from eating foods I typically considered bad for me were constant companions in my thoughts. Shame did cameo appearances in my mind’s movie reel daily.
The yoga world, for all of its purported zen and acceptance, can often be less than body-positive (I'm looking at you, Lululemon). Still, I'd argue that anyone who does discriminate against an overweight yoga teacher isn't really practicing the spiritual tenets that yoga teaches. Yes, there are many different branches within yogic traditions (and America seems to love yoga more for exercise than for meditating), but still, it seems to me that letting prejudices about weight enter into a yoga practice is pretty anti-yoga in general.
Still, I commend Hall for her experiment and for her willingness to use herself to test society's notions of what is acceptable and beautiful. If you read her blog post, you'll see that it's very much about her own reactions to her experiment — what she learned, how she felt. While I guess Hall's piece is very yogic in that way, there's so many more details I want to know about about her experience with her experiment. Did her yoga students react when she started gaining weight? How about the studio where she works? How about other yoga teachers? Did her experience teach her anything about how bigger people are treated in the yoga world? In the world in general? Did she feel like that other people's perceptions of her as a practitioner of yoga had shifted? Is she now trying to lose weight the weight she gained?
Although I know my own yoga teacher would tell me to quiet these questions in my mind, I can't help but think that Hall's experiment would be significantly more powerful (or at least more revealing) if we knew a little more about what happened outside of her own emotions. Maybe that's not very yogic of me... but we don't live in a very yogic world.