Yoga, the People’s Practice – Meet Candice GarrettFebruary 26, 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 Yoga and Body Image Coalition community ally, Candice Garrett.
What does self-empowerment mean to you?
You are wonderful, capable. You have a beautiful body.
Self empowerment, to me, means focusing on the ways in which you are loved, supported, capable, instead of focusing on the ways in which you don’t meet up with other’s standards.
How do you define “body positive” yoga?
Anyone, any BODY can practice, should practice yoga. I had a prenatal student this week that was terrified of coming to yoga because she thought she would be too old, or too fat, or too unknowledgeable about yoga to participate. That makes me sad.
Yoga is the people’s practice.
Describe what it means to have a positive body image.
You have a body and realize that it is good, just as it is.
How do you nurture and cultivate a positive body image of your self?
I practice radical self acceptance. This is who I am. These stripes, these lumps, all tell a story. I was born with a disability that left radical scars on my body. I used to (and still do, sometimes) get mad at people who stare. But I have to remind myself that my body is good, IT supports my life. I remind myself about all the good and try not to focus on how it doesn’t match up with people’s expectations.
Describe contemporary yoga culture’s relationship to body image.
I find it very troubling that one of the spokespersons for a major yoga publication has called herself curvy in the past, and yet, I have met her in person and she is very petite in both size and stature. I find it troubling that we find a normally small person to consider herself curvy by yoga standards.
Indeed, I have been the victim of size discrimination as a teacher, and have found that when I was a size 8, I was the largest practitioner in the room.
I have never equated size with capability, but I have often said that as a yoga practitioner, I feel very insecure about my body, whereas amongst other women my age who aren’t yogis, I feel pretty confident.
I think yoga practitioners, on the whole, are trying really hard to make it body positive. I think our current media does not share those same values.
How can we as a society promote a healthy body image for all?
We have to realize that there is no one true healthy body image.
I am tired of stereotypes. I am tired of bullying.
We have to understand that there is no “normal.” I certainly did not fit the “normal” category. I may not ever be a celebreyogi. Does that mean I can’t practice yoga? Of course not.
Yoga makes me feel good.
Why do you believe these issues and this work is important?
There is so much pressure, from the media and otherwise, to be a certain way, otherwise you aren’t an acceptable woman.
Stretch marks? Too much chub? Not good looking by industry standards?
That is crap. All of it.
We have to be about supporting women, in media, in literature, in yoga. We have to tell our stories so that history remembers us, so that our daughters can have better than we have had, and so that our sons, brothers and husbands can truly be better partners for women.
How does your work address body image issues?
I work in prenatal yoga. Pretty much all my work is centered around body acceptance. Stretch marks, saggy skin, all of it. This last weekend I was at the beach and a young girl came up to her mom and said, “mama, now you can put your bathingsuit on. Because no one is looking at you!” This hurts my heart for the mom, and the daughter. Women should not feel pressured to look like they did before pregnancy. Pregnancy is a normal event in a woman’s life. She is not diminished by having children. Nor is her body.
Candice Garrett is the director of Nine Moons Prenatal Yoga. She came to this field almost accidentally and found her passion here for supporting women. She specializes in female pelvic floor health, and has taught for UCSF, Hypnobirthing, and the Midwives Alliance of North America.