This blog is cross-posted from our amazing sponsored yoga teacher Kate Mosher from Asheville, North Carolina. You can find Body Positive teachers and personal trainers like Kate on our Body Positive Fitness Finder. Read the original post on Kate's website here.
Journey to the Mat
I didn’t find yoga, yoga found me. I know, I know, but I say it because it is true. A dear friend was the first to invite me to the mat. I vaguely recall promises of handstands and increased flexibility. I imagined yoga would help me to lose weight and become a human pretzel. Neither of those things happened. However, I did find it helped me to turn down the volume on the screaming shame cassette that played on repeat in my mind.
Yoga gave me the space to see that I lived almost entirely in my head- consumed by the fat girl fantasies that all started with when I am thin....You might be familiar, when I am thin I will meet the right person, I will land the job of my dreams, I will take those photos, I will finally arrive in my own life.
Power of the Pause
Yoga offered me the resources to sit in the discomfort, to see that I did not trust myself and I did not trust my body. Why? Because I had been conditioned to believe that fat women were not to be trusted, that our bodies were entirely out of control, and my job was to fix my broken body, through whatever means necessary.
Learning to quiet my mind after a lifetime of diet culture’s broken records was a profound gift. That is not to say it was a love at first mountain pose. I was an inconsistent student for many years, sometimes months or *gasp* a year could go by in between practices. I was coming back and forth to the mat when my heart broke, had a fight with a close friend, or felt lost.
Yoga opened my ability to find peace and gentleness towards myself but the social conditioning of living in a fat body was powerful. I was stuck in a cycle of believing that my body was temporary, disposable, and to be made smaller no matter the cost. Those beliefs are powerful and oppressive, and can take some time to undo.
I became a more frequent student during the height of the Bikram yoga craze. I mainly used hot yoga as another diet culture obsession, thinking that I could sweat my way thin. I loved the discipline of the same 26 postures on repeat and the feeling of being in my body; yet being the only fat girl in the room took its toll. I took a break from my mat and became a mama.
Mats Like Mirrors
After deep struggles with postpartum depression and anxiety, I began to wake up to myself, thanks to a fantastic therapist, time, tears, and loving kindness from those I hold dear.
My path to the mat this time led me to a local gym, where I met a fat yoga teacher! That was the start of my internal revolution, a fat woman teaching yoga blew my mind.
I began to seek out fat people defying stereotypes, and came across the online community of fat activists and fashion icons. Seeing people in bodies that looked like mine living lives in the present moment, not when they were x pounds thinner or x size smaller. People in fat bodies happy, in love, dancing, doing things that fat people are not supposed to do until they are thin was a HUGE moment of FUCK YES!
I read about intersectional feminism and the impact white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism have had on the evolution of diet culture, fatphobia and fat oppression. I began to untie myself from my thoughts, and began to feel a gentleness towards myself that was not there before.
Permission to Be
Soon, I began a home practice with my little one, and began taking classes at a local studio that made me feel welcomed and found some freedom in moving my body because it was mine.
My intentions for my life shifted. I desired to be in alignment with my soul, no matter the cost. I began to seek permission from myself, and no one else.
All of a sudden I had more time and space in my life to be curious about the things that actually brought me joy and not shame. I deleted my fitness tracking apps, threw away my scale, and began to treat myself with the love and kindness I deserved and so desperately craved. And soon, I decided that I wanted to show up. I signed up for yoga teacher training in the summer of 2018.
Was it an easy 3 step path?
Nope. It was and will continue to be incredibly painful. Yoga teaches me that there is a space between my feelings, myself, and the world. It is in the space between that I can pause, breathe, shift, and let the light in.
Did I fall on my face, lose friendships, and have my marriage nearly burn to the ground?
Yep. My yogic path has shown me I will continue to struggle and I will continue to grow. It is both/and.
Would I do it again?
Without question. This life is mine and belongs to no one else. My yoga practice has been with me each step of my body liberation journey and will be with me until my last breath, inviting me into a space where I am allowed to be fully human and beautifully imperfect.
Do I ever think body shaming thoughts or want to change my body?
Yes. Diet culture, patriarchy, capitalism, white supremacy (which all work together to keep folx oppressed) is the air we breathe. Just because I show up on and off my mat to work towards taking apart these terrible systems of hate, violence, and scarcity doesn’t mean they don’t come into my life daily. It's that now my screaming shame cassette is quieter so I can hear my actual thoughts, and have space to take action.
I believe radical self love is showing up for myself, and doing my work to unpack the shit pile that came with my white, cis, female, able bodied identity both from family of origin and society. It’s staying in the room even when things get hard, making space and having gratitude for the imperfection, and loving what is, without wanting to change it or wishing for things to be different. I wish the same for you.
As a fat yoga teacher in a sea of thin ones, I know I stand out. But I like to think I stand out like a rainbow sequin dress in a room of little black ones, and that those sequins- the things that make me different- are what call folx towards me, to join me on the mat.
It can be really, really hard to make space to nurture and care for ourselves, especially for people in fat bodies, because we have been socialized to believe that we are bodies to be fixed, changed, shrunk, condensed, and minimized.
BUT there is good news. There is another way to be in our bodies, there is another path to take. And it starts with one breath, one movement, one moment, and then another breath, another movement, another moment, and so on. Showing up for ourselves on the mat is a movement towards a gentler, kinder, softer relationship with yourself and your body. It is an act of rebellion and an act of courage. I know this to be true because it is part of my story, and I believe it can be part of yours too.
Let’s change the world. We are BETTER TOGETHER, dear one.
I am Kate Mosher, and I am passionate about fat positivity, body liberation, social justice, intersectional feminism, and yoga. We can start together, one mountain pose, one breath, one moment spent without shame towards our bodies at a time. Join me.
This could be the day. Or maybe it’s tomorrow. But I swear, dear one, it will come.
If you’re ready for a shift, if you want to join me in the charge to find gentle movement, no matter what your body looks or feels like, please click here to join me on the mat.
Follow Kate's Instagram @matslikemirrors.
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