Where on earth did this absurd idea originate that yoga classes are full of skinny women? I was inspired to cover this myth after reading an article about a plus-size yogi. In her article was a quote that went something like this, in reference to yoga classes: “Half the class has an eating disorder and the other half are gymnasts.”
I’ve taken eight yoga classes so far. This doesn’t make me an expert in yoga, but eight classes are enough for me to legitimately comment on the myth that yoga classes are full of anorexic-looking women.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’ll admit that it’s rare to see a full-figured woman or “fat” man in a yoga class. But this doesn’t mean that the participants, collectively, each weigh 105 pounds.
In my first class the woman next to me was very large; she’d be considered fat.
In my second class I noticed a woman with anorexia nervosa. She must have been 78 pounds soaking wet. I am not exaggerating. She looked like one of those anorexic women you see pictured in reports on eating disorders. I was disgusted that anyone could allow that to happen to themselves.
Being malnourished will undermine one’s ability to perform their best yoga. So to ascribe an “eating disorder” to half the class is just plain ridiculous.
Here is what the typical yoga enthusiast looks like based on the eight classes I’ve taken.
And below is a woman who just might have an eating disorder.
Do they look similar? Hardly.
Do you really believe the most women who do yoga look like the one below?
Don’t base your perception on the models whom photographers choose for their images.
It’s no coincidence that some (not all) models who look undernourished are never photographed in advanced poses!
The pose above, though not advanced, is far from easy, and the thinness of this model is the exception, not the rule.
A weak scrawny body is not compatible with advanced yoga, though yoga will strengthen such a body.
A fat body as well will struggle with poses, such as the dynamic one below.
This is why you don’t see big people performing difficult yoga poses; the same reason you don’t see fat people running up hills, jumping over obstacles or doing pull-ups.
But to derive from this that yogis are “all thin” is just plain illogical thinking. Yes, collectively, yoga practitioners are far from fat. But advanced yogis are built like athletes, not anorexics.
It is far from accurate to describe even the average yoga enthusiast as skinny.