No Yogi Left Behind – Meet Dianne BondyFebruary 24, 2015
The Yoga and Body Image Coalition is committed to building conscious community and highlighting the work that inspiring yogis are doing in their local communities and beyond. We’re pleased to introduce you to Dianne Bondy, a team leader in the Yoga and Body Image Coalition.
What does “healthy body image” mean to you?
Healthy body image means realistic body sizes and beauty standards for everyone. It includes less criticism of bigger bodies, fat shaming, slut shaming and judgement. We need to create a new definition beauty to include everyone of all shapes and sizes.
How do you define “body positivity”?
Self care, Self love and Self acceptance. One of my favourite quotes that speaks to body image for me is: “Mother Teresa wasn’t worried about the size of her thighs – she had shit to do.”
What has yoga’s impact been on your relationship with your body and your body image?
Yoga has taught e to be okay with who I am. I view my body as a beautiful vessel which houses my spirit. The energy of our spirit is infinite and at our core we are all connected. It not about what I look like or what limitations that society puts on me . It’s all about what I have to offer the world.
I have a love hate relationship with my body. I am finding it is mostly love until I compare myself with someone else who smaller, younger or more flexible.
On the days I am feeling vulnerable I take care of myself by I see out my closest friends or connecting with my partner. I seek out to my community. I go to a yoga class or read an inspiration book or poem and remind myself that I am work in progress and that self love is a journey.
Describe one of your transformational moments on your mat.
Being at an advanced yoga teacher training that I had no business being at. My asana was not up to it. I was the only big black girl in the room of thin, small, hyper-flexible, strong, and mostly Caucasian yogis. I spent most of my time crying on my mat. People where afraid to pair up with me because of my size. Feeling very lost and alone and the big brown spot in a sea of white faces. I remember feeling like there must be others out there like me. I will take this miserable experience and create my own awareness and classes for bigger bodies.
This was when Yogasteya was born! Yoga for the rest of us!
Who are your yoga role models (if any)?
Some of my yoga role models include Anna Guest Jelley, Christina Sell, Dana Smith, Annie Carlin, Anna Barnes, and Teo Drake. They represent all that yoga can be and what yoga really looks like and is.
Someone who can stand strong in their power, who is not afraid of being a strong and speak their mind. They are aware of the presence of others and holds space for people to be themselves without apology.
Self empowerment means you are not jealous, or afraid of other people’s success. You support everyone equally.You sustain a community.
How does your work address body image issues?
As a larger bodied black woman who practices yoga , I put myself out there without exception as an example to everyone that yoga is for everyone. Yes, you too can do yoga. Through the creation of Yogasteya.com which features a diverse student and teacher base it helps normalize seeing bigger bodies and people of color on the mat.
I am dedicated to broadening the narrow visual aesthetic of mainstream yoga media and allowing people of all genders, sizes and ethnicities to feel that this is a practice for them.
Why do you believe these issues and this work is important?
Yoga will save us – heart, body, and spirit. In order for this happen…everyone must be invited and made to feel welcome.
If you could say 1 thing to your younger Self, what would it be?
Say true to yourself, don’t be a door mat and you have done nothing wrong.
Dianne Bondy is an author, motivator, educator, yoga teacher, and creator of Yogasteya.com. Yogasteya is an online yoga site dedicated to celebrating students of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities. Our motto is “No Yogi Left Behind.”
Dianne has had over 1000 hours yoga training in different modalities such as yoga therapeutics, restorative, and Anusara Yoga. She is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher at 500 hour level and is the Director of Eastside Yoga School. You can read her column The Abundant Yogini at DoYouYoga.com.