Updated: Nov 25, 2021
2010: How it all Began
If you’re considering how to start yoga, and what benefits it could have in your life, read this!
In the aftermath of my divorce from an abusive alcoholic, I found myself a stressed-out single parent of three children who were also in recovery from the turmoil that came with the divorce.
After 8 years living the stay-at-home mom life, I went back to work full-time, trying to keep it all together (but failing miserably in my own mind).
I was drinking too much, attempting to numb the pain. My diet consisted of cheap, easy, unhealthy meals, as I was working long days with low pay. I gained 40 pounds in the year after my divorce, and I was about to re-enter the dating pool at 42.
For the sake of my own sanity and health, I decided it was time to hit the gym. Unfortunately, I found that I was so out of shape that sweating it out with cardio made me feel worse.
I would get on the treadmill with my “I can do this” mindset, and then spend the next 20 minutes completely stressed out about the time I was wasting there when there was so much more that I should have been doing instead.
Rather than enjoying (as much as a non-cardio lover can) my ‘me-time’ getting in shape, I was too focused on my stacking to-do lists and the anxiety that this created. So, my attempt to work out was really just me fighting my own mental beast.
Can you relate?
The gym had various instructor-led classes, so I started attending those. Cardio classes combining dance moves and choreographed routines made me feel stupid, uncoordinated, and out of place.
It was like being back at middle school feeling clunky and less than graceful as the loud music, jarring to my senses, taunted me. I felt sweaty and gross and struggled with my own inability to keep up.
Yoga: The Saving Grace
What the gym did have were yoga classes. The soft lighting, the calm voice leading the way, and the poses taught with adjustments for different levels all met my groove.
I had been wondering how to start yoga, and if it was something I could actually get into. So, I gave it a go.
...And then the Savasana! That blissful nap at the end began to break away the years of tension, soothing my soul.
My actual yoga practice? It wasn’t pretty.
My balance was off, my breathing out of whack, and there were poses I just couldn’t do.
I was so concerned with my concentration and physical efforts that I didn’t have time to notice if others were getting it or if it was just me struggling.
I didn’t care either. It was me and my mat against the world. I was flooded with determination to figure it out.
I wasn’t getting all sweaty and embarrassed and my mind wasn’t stuck in my ‘shoulds’ and to-do lists. It shifted into simply holding the concentration it took for me to keep trying.
Most importantly, when things got tough and I wanted to give up, getting off my mat, rolling it up, and walking out mid-lass was a level of embarrassment that I could never force myself into.
So, I stayed for the whole class – the entire hour. And I was so busy trying to center myself that I couldn’t even think about all my other problems.
I got to just lay there at the end and think, connect with a positive intention, learn how to just be and breathe and let my thoughts come and go and not get all stressed out about them.
I learned to start letting go.
The Only One in the Room
The one thing that I did notice in these yoga classes – I was the only fat chick in the room.
Not that everyone had these perfect bodies, but I was clearly the only overweight woman coming to class.
Luckily, what I believe is one of my greatest character traits is that I typically don’t care what other people think of me.
I’ve been the fat girl, the fit girl, the slut, the tomboy, the bully, the outsider, and I’ve been the cool popular girl. None of that ever mattered if I didn’t consistently own who I am.
It took a long time and a long journey to be comfortable in my own skin and fine being exactly who I am, no matter my ‘label’.
Their opinion is simply their opinion and no one really knows the real me, except me.
Fast forward to 2017. I’m remarried to an amazing man, I’ve worked my ass off to better myself at work and life has definitely settled down.
But I wanted more.
Something felt missing from my life. My job, while busy and well paying, wasn’t making me happy.
Someone asked me, “if you could be doing anything in the world right now, what would it be?” Without even thinking I blurted out, “I would be teaching yoga on a beach.”
I was shocked as the words came out of my mouth. I had no idea why I said it, but I did know that when your soul speaks, it’s typically best if you listen.
I spoke to the owner of my local studio who led yoga teacher trainings. I wanted to know how to start yoga teacher training asap. Her training was starting in a week. It was $3,000, and it was every weekend, all weekend-long for 8 weeks.
But there was a huge problem – it was during the football playoffs. Plus, I really wasn’t in the position to just come up with $3,000 in a week.
Second option: she was going to Bali in October of 2017 to lead a yoga teacher training there. Twenty-one days in Bali, completely focused on yoga. I was in for that.
The details would all come together, I was sure of it. I signed up.
Chubby Chick Yoga Was Born
The teacher training is a completely separate blog post, so let’s just yada, yada, yada, right on past for now.
I became a yoga teacher. But not just a regular teacher – A PLUS-SIZED yoga teacher… not something you saw a lot of in 2017. It was at the very beginning of the movement.
I knew what was needed: a class that was warm and welcoming, completely inviting for anyone brand new and overweight.
A space for women who didn’t feel like they belonged in most yoga studios, or fit the social media image of what a yoga woman looked like.
What I learned through this creation process was that most women have an inner fat girl. That even the 120 lb long, lanky twenty-something has an inner critic (that could honestly use a punch in the face), telling her that she is not perfect; that she has flaws, scars, and fat pockets.
I learned that my class couldn’t just be offered to women who were a certain number on a scale or a certain dress size, but that it had to be inclusive of every woman battling her own inner demons. Every woman who didn’t know how to start yoga, but wanted to.
And thus began a brand-new yoga experience. I was hesitant to use the name “Chubby Chick Yoga”, because it was really calling myself out.
However, if I wasn’t able to call myself out, how could I expect other women to call themselves out?
We need to be ok with using the words “fat”, “chubby”, or any other word that society has used to try to shame us. Words that are viewed as negative.
We all have fat – every single one of us. But society has shamed us for it. It is a pure function of a human being to have fat, and every single one of us has our own level of health. Fat is not a determinant of our health status, our ambition, or our activity level.
Chubby Chick Yoga was born.
A space for all – a class for everyone, a practice for every fitness level.
I wanted to give people considering how to start yoga an opportunity to try it out and feel totally welcomed and less intimidated by the whole experience.
From simple beginner’s yoga classes, birthed a bigger movement. I am now offering yoga retreats in Costa Rica and Bali, online yoga programs, yoga mentorships, and more, and I have never felt more aligned and filled with purpose in my life.
We are all just riding around this earth together, it’s time we learned to accept each other right where we are, and most importantly, to learn to accept ourselves exactly as we are.
I look forward to you joining me and discovering how your yoga journey can take you to a powerful, purposeful, connected, and loving place within yourself.
See you on the mat! Patti xx