“Yoga For Every Body” – Meet Elen BahrNovember 19, 2014
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 Yoga and Body Image Coalition community ally, Elen Bahr.
What does body positivity mean to you?
Body positivity is simply the act of recognizing the strength and gifts of each of us. A simple notion, yes, but somehow difficult in practice!
As we move through life, our bodies change over time. Body positivity means we can grow spiritually and emotionally with these physical changes. It means looking in the mirror and seeing the beauty of our souls, not the size of our thighs.
How does your work address body image issues?
My business is called Yoga for Every Body. The folks of all shapes and sizes who come to my classes are welcomed with open arms. They tell me that the fact that I “don’t look like a yoga instructor” helps them feel more comfortable coming to their mats.
My primary goal is creating a safe space where the participants body size/shape/ability somehow becomes irrelevant. They are encouraged to move through postures in their own way, on their own timing. I start each practice with a reminder that there’s no right or wrong. Each person can feel empowered to be who they are – and to have it honored. My hope is that the support and acceptance they feel during our practice together carries with them as they leave their mats.
Recently, a yogi came to me after practice with tears in her eyes. She told me that she’d never before felt welcomed and honored in a yoga class. She hugged me and thanked me. That’s why I teach – for people like her. She never came back but I hope that one practice has her still feeling honored and loved.
Why do you believe these issues and this work is important?
The beginnings of yoga weren’t about teaching a select few. I doubt Patanjali was sent to earth with the instruction to teach yoga to slim, athletic people who would someday look good on a magazine cover.
Honestly, life is too short for us to walk around hating our bodies. If a person can’t enjoy the benefits of yoga because they feel intimated by the yoga community or don’t feel welcomed in a studio…well, that’s just very sad.
I truly look forward to a day when we don’t need to have this conversation. When yoga is a place where people of all shapes, sizes and abilities are so deeply integrated into the yoga community, we can focus on the similarities between us, not the differences.
If you could say 1 thing to your younger Self, what would it be?
Elen Bahr is believer in yoga equality regardless of physical size, shape, ability. She is a digital marketer turned yoga instructor and blogs at EveryYogi.com.