curvymonthly

The very inspiring Curvy Yoga recently asked about sacred yoga spaces. My favorite place to practice and teach is definitely with Grow Well, in the pretty studio and especially on the lawn in spring and fall. It’s a cozy, calming space, and practice is often punctuated by giggling at the goats’ excessive eye contact. Mind your own business, Wilson!

Stay tuned in 2014 for Grow Well news, since we’re adding an exciting new direction that will make our services available beyond the farm!

Photo credit: Kara Johnson Photography 

This is literally the most comfortable #yoga top I’ve ever worn, and you would be hard pressed to find a plus size activewear line with a similar design. Is it because we’re all afraid of back fat? A population living in fear of stretch marks? Is it impossible for a person with breasts to enjoy movement without having them completely constricted? I’m not sure, but whatever the reason- I think it’s pretty dumb. The status quo only maintains relevance when people restrict their decisions to it. Stop thinking about how to make your body different and just love it where it is right now. Back fat, stretch marks, ET AL.

Top- Paramita Designs Undies- Gap Headband- Kobieta

I am asked this question all the time and I always feel like a giant asshole because my knee jerk response is always something like “um, just grab a mat and start.” This is a truly unfair response considering that the marketplace is completely saturated with unhelpful and confusing resources. There are too many types of yoga to learn, teachers to learn from, places to practice, mats to choose, etc for me to give a response to this question that would suit every beginning yoga practitioner. That being said, I do have a couple of tips that I think have been key elements to the success of my personal practice, and they might benefit your own practice.

  • 1.  Attend at least 1 live class every week. This will help you get the flow of how a practice should move, and you’ll receive instructor feedback which is really critical especially in terms of alignment. Obviously, if you have the time/money, it’s great to attend several live classes every week, but if you’re like me and you’re broke/prone to skipping exercise classes, it might be better to aim for 1. There are many benefits to every type of yoga (depending on what kind of experience you want- gentle, high endurance, alignment-based, etc)- determine what you need from your practice, and select a class based on those needs. Personally, I crave an energy outlet and vinyasa flow classes are the perfect match for me. They are vigorous, sweaty, and integrate a wide variety of poses making them challenging and fun at the same time.  
  • 2.       In addition to a live class, find an online yoga classroom that you like. I’ve been singing the praises of Yogaglo for ages- they even offer a free two week trial period. At only $18/month, it’s basically like getting unlimited classes from world renowned yoga teachers for the price of a drop-in rate at your local studio. I take at least 3-4 yogaglo classes every week, and I frequently take the same classes repeatedly. It’s a great way to focus on “mastering” different poses by learning them in sequences, and it helps build your endurance. My favorite part of online yoga classes is that I don’t have to think about anyone else- I didn’t realize how distracting my fellow students can be to my practice until I began practicing at home.
  • 3.       Invest in a good mat. I used the same dingy mat (my father’s old pilates mat, actually) for ages before I invested in my current mat. My mat came with a headache-inducing price tag ($69) but when you consider the amount of time, wear, and tear (not to mention blood, sweat, and tears) that my mat soaks up, 70 bucks is kind of a steal. Besides, it stands to reason that if you have a good mat that makes you feel safe in any pose, you’ll be more willing to be daring in your practice. Also, find a good block and strap situation- and that doesn’t mean you need to run to Lululemon and rack up a ridiculous bill on yoga accessories, either. Even if you’re just using a copy of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows as a block and a dog leash as a strap (Yes, I’ve done it),  find some simple modification pieces so you can always find a way to be comfortable in a pose.
  • 4.       Focus on breathing. No matter what pose you’re in, from savasana to forearm stand, just focus on maintaining a consistency of breath. That way, even if you think you might be dying and the world is collapsing around you, you can remind yourself that the mere presence of your breath is proof that everything really will be ok. And while you’re at it, smile- if you can smile, everything is really and truly ok (I promise).
  • 5.       Don’t guzzle water while you’re practicing. Try to stay hydrated around the clock so you don’t have to drink much (or at all) while you’re practicing. Sure, the rules of water in a hot yoga class are different (dehydration in extreme heat is a real thing, y’all), but under most other circumstances drinking water during yoga classes (especially copious amounts) could just make you nauseated and lethargic. Again, just focus on breathing- that’s the most important thing over all.

If you want to know more about my personal practice (how I began practicing yoga, etc), read my FAQ page.

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Day 5 of September’s #SizeDoesn'tMatter Yoga Challenge: Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow/Wheel Pose)

I recorded a short video of this pose- Check it out on my Youtube Channel.

Want a little more instruction? Check out the Yoga Journal Pose Index.

Want To Participate?

1. Follow me (@mynameisjessamyn), @yoga_davina & our lovely sponsors (@yogiblissbox, @buddha_pants, & @invertyoselfclothing) on Instagram.

2. Post a pic of yourself in the pose of the day- check @yoga_davina & I for daily pose updates. Tag us & hashtag #sizedoesntmatter.

3. At the end of the month we’ll select a few of you to receive goodies from our generous sponsors- don’t forget to tag all your pictures w/ #sizedoesntmatter!

(BTW, if you’re participating via tumblr, just tag your posts #sizedoesntmatter!)

(You can also subscribe to My Youtube Channel. You know, if you want.)

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Talking about shapewear within the curvy community is not unlike talking about weaves and hair extensions in the African-American community- while many of us wear shapewear under tighter garments and many African-American women wear some kind of hair extension, we all choose to pretend as though we were made this way naturally.

I’m not down with that- it’s time to claim every element of your wardrobe and I would be a damn liar to not give ample credit to the underwear that truly holds everything together. One of my lovely tumblr followers asked for some shapewear recommendations for thick women, and while I will never stop praising Spanx and Assets(in my opinion, the best choice for anyone who has to deal with thigh chafing in a work environment), I also like to keep several less-utilitarian options in my closet. Here are two designs by Hips and Curves that I’m obsessed with- they both offer a decent amount of coverage and lift without being matronly. I’m a big fan of Hips and Curves- they have some of the sexiest lingerie designs for size 12+ women that I’ve ever seen.

My shoes and top are both by Forever 21, and my stockings are by Hips and Curves. In addition:

Photo 1: Vintage Seduction High Waisted V-Back Panty

Photo 2: Rhumba Panty

Day 29 of September’s #SizeDoesn’tMatter Yoga Challenge: Vrishikasana (Scorpion Pose)

Want a little more guidance? Click here.

I’m working on scorpion in forearm stand- feel free to work any variation of this pose for today. This pose is really intense- I am working on being able to hold it for more than just a couple of breaths. At this point, I’m not even immediately focused on moving it away from the wall- for the record, I ALWAYS use a wall to work into this pose. I received a lot of guidance on this pose via various Kathryn Budig flows on Yogaglo and I’ve actually posted a couple of different resources on my Facebook page to help you practice this pose- link is in my header. Basically, always focus on melting your chest and your heart forward as opposed to bending your knees. As your chest melts, your legs will naturally drift further down. It is really important to be very warmed up before attempting this pose- don’t just try to rush into it. It is much better to chill in #dolphinpose, raising your legs one at a time, or just getting used to the sensation of #pinchamayurasana than to bust your ass because you thought you needed to be a fucking scorpion. Yoga is awesome, injuring yourself is not.

It’s not too late to participate in this month’s challenge- you can check out my instagramyoutubefacebook, & blog for videos, photos, and other resources!

Want To Participate?

1. Follow me (@mynameisjessamyn), @yoga_davina & our lovely sponsors (@yogiblissbox@buddha_pants, & @invertyoselfclothing) on Instagram.

2. Post a pic of yourself in the pose of the day- check @yoga_davina & I for daily pose updates. Tag us & hashtag #sizedoesntmatter.

3. At the end of the month we’ll select a few of you to receive goodies from our generous sponsors- don’t forget to tag all your pictures w/ #sizedoesntmatter!

(BTW, if you’re participating via tumblr, just tag your posts #sizedoesntmatter!)

(You can also subscribe to My Youtube Channel. You know, if you want.)

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Day 1 of November’s #SizeDoesntMatter yoga challenge w/ me & @yoga_davina is Forearm Plank Pose (Dolphin Plank Pose). This pose is extremely challenging for me but it’s also a huge part of my #inversion progress- a solid core is really the only way to invert without a wall.

I usually hold this pose 30-90 seconds, depending upon my mood. It burns like all hell, but the burn is SO worth it.


I remember hearing @kathryn_budig ask, during a particularly strenuous hold in this pose: “Do you ever hear someone say ‘shift into plank pose’ and it actually makes you really happy?” Recently, I’ve found myself getting happy when I hear it. Not because it’s fun- anyone whose held a long #plankpose can tell you that it’s usually not all that fun- but because it has taught me so much about total body engagement. In order to stay afloat in this pose, it is necessary to be aware and engaged in every part of your body. Frequently, we are extremely disconnected and disengaged with our bodies. That’s essentially not an option when it comes to forearm plank. Basically, I’m grateful for the challenge, and thankful for the constant reminder to stay engaged. At all times. On and off the mat.

Top- Paramita Designs

Pants- Manifesta ('CURVYYOGA’ gets you 20% off!)

Want To Participate?

1. Follow me (@mynameisjessamyn) & @yoga_davina on Instagram.

2. Post a pic of yourself in the pose of the day- check @yoga_davina & I for daily pose updates. Tag us & hashtag #sizedoesntmatter.

3. At the end of the month we’ll select a few of you to receive goodies from our generous sponsors- don’t forget to tag all your pictures w/ #sizedoesntmatter!

(BTW, if you’re participating via tumblr, just tag your posts #sizedoesntmatter!)

(You can also subscribe to My Youtube Channel. You know, if you want.)

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Day 17 of September’s #SizeDoesn’tMatter Yoga Challenge: Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana (Single Pigeon Pose)

Want a little more guidance? Click here.

It’s not too late to participate in this month’s challenge- you can check out my instagram, youtube, facebook, & blog for videos, photos, and other resources!

Want To Participate?

1. Follow me (@mynameisjessamyn), @yoga_davina & our lovely sponsors (@yogiblissbox, @buddha_pants, & @invertyoselfclothing) on Instagram.

2. Post a pic of yourself in the pose of the day- check @yoga_davina & I for daily pose updates. Tag us & hashtag #sizedoesntmatter.

3. At the end of the month we’ll select a few of you to receive goodies from our generous sponsors- don’t forget to tag all your pictures w/ #sizedoesntmatter!

(BTW, if you’re participating via tumblr, just tag your posts #sizedoesntmatter!)

(You can also subscribe to My Youtube Channel. You know, if you want.)

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Day 2 of #SizeDoesntMatter w/ myself and @yoga_davina is Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana).

Talk about a learning posture- this pose has taught me more than y'all can know. One of my favorite Kathryn Budig flows on Yogaglo (“Better Than Coffee”, for my fellow Yogaglo nerds-link to this flow is on my Facebook page) features a relatively common transition from triangle pose into half moon pose, but it wasn’t until I practiced that specific flow on a semi-daily basis for 19 days straight that I gained any level of comfort with it. One legged standing poses are extremely challenging for me, and there’s a level of uncertainty that I inevitably feel in the pose that is extremely humbling. Though it’s hard to recognize at the moment of impact, experiences which humble us are worth more than gold- there’s really no better place to learn about yourself. So I’m thankful for half moon pose, so very thankful- by humbling me, it helps me learn about my most true self.

Top- Paramita Designs

Pants- Manifesta (‘CURVYYOGA’ gets you 20% off!)

Want To Participate?

1. Follow me (@mynameisjessamyn) & @yoga_davina on Instagram.

2. Post a pic of yourself in the pose of the day- check @yoga_davina & I for daily pose updates. Tag us & hashtag #sizedoesntmatter.

3. At the end of the month we’ll select a few of you to receive goodies from our generous sponsors- don’t forget to tag all your pictures w/ #sizedoesntmatter!

(BTW, if you’re participating via tumblr, just tag your posts #sizedoesntmatter!)

(You can also subscribe to My Youtube Channel. You know, if you want.)

youtube

This pose is really a variation on Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana- the video shows a series of transitions from variations of Low Lunge Pose, Lizard Pose, & Virasana with the knee pressed against the wall, before going into the full expression. I like to hold each of the warm-up poses for ~5-10 breaths. Song is Caravan Palace “Violente Valse”. You can also modify the pose by sliding your knee ~6-8" away from the wall.

youtube

Here’s a little video I shot for Day 16 of #SizeDoesntMatter- Lizard Pose. The video (sped up 2x) includes a variation which intensifies the hip opening while adding a little backbend. Song is Bikini Kill “Rebel Girl”.

youtube

I am frequently asked how to get in and out of Natarajasana (King Dancer Pose) with a mermaid bind- it’s actually very simple. Video is sped up 2x- song is Kendrick Lamar “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst”.

Top- Paramita Designs Undies- Gap Headband- Kobieta
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Day 6 of September’s #SizeDoesn'tMatter Yoga Challenge: Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Upward Facing Two-Foot Staff Pose)

I recorded a short video of this pose with a transition to yesterday’s pose, Urdhva Danurasana- Check it out on my Youtube Channel.

Want a little more instruction? Check out the Yoga Journal Pose Index.

Want To Participate?

1. Follow me (@mynameisjessamyn), @yoga_davina & our lovely sponsors (@yogiblissbox, @buddha_pants, & @invertyoselfclothing) on Instagram.

2. Post a pic of yourself in the pose of the day- check @yoga_davina & I for daily pose updates. Tag us & hashtag #sizedoesntmatter.

3. At the end of the month we’ll select a few of you to receive goodies from our generous sponsors- don’t forget to tag all your pictures w/ #sizedoesntmatter!

(BTW, if you’re participating via tumblr, just tag your posts #sizedoesntmatter!)

(You can also subscribe to My Youtube Channel. You know, if you want.)

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Day 4 of #SizeDoesntMatter w/ myself & @yoga_davina is Wide Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana). When I’m sick, this pose is always there for me. In my opinion, it’s kind of like the non-water equivalent of a neti pot drain. As North Carolina awkwardly transitions from late summer/kinda fall to WTF IT’S FREEZING FALL, my congestion levels are peaking like crazy. As a result, I’ve been inserting this pose into my practice at every possible turn and it’s made a substantial difference in my overall wellness. I’m grateful for this pose because it’s definitely an undercover wellness warrior that is an absolute necessity to my well-being.

Top- Paramita Designs (‘SDM20’ gets you 20% off your order!)

Pants- Molly Maven (THAT BELLY TUCKING WAISTBAND, THO)

Want To Participate?

1. Follow me (@mynameisjessamyn) & @yoga_davina on Instagram.

2. Post a pic of yourself in the pose of the day- check @yoga_davina & I for daily pose updates. Tag us & hashtag #sizedoesntmatter.

3. At the end of the month we’ll select a few of you to receive goodies from our generous sponsors- don’t forget to tag all your pictures w/ #sizedoesntmatter!

(BTW, if you’re participating via tumblr, just tag your posts #sizedoesntmatter!)

(You can also subscribe to My Youtube Channel. You know, if you want.)

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Day 21 of September’s #SizeDoesn’tMatter Yoga Challenge: Agnistambhasana (Double Pigeon Pose)

Want a little more guidance? Click here.

I love this pose so much, y'all- I like to chill here for ~2-3 min toward the end of my home practice. Especially after a long practice with backbends and hip openers, this pose feels excellent. I always let my head rest on a block because it helps take the strain out of my neck and allows me to relax for long periods of time. 

I’m getting really excited about the forward folds and inversions my co-host @Yoga_Davina has planned for this week- be sure to check her instagram for alignment tips throughout the week!

It’s not too late to participate in this month’s challenge- you can check out my instagram, youtube, facebook, & blog for videos, photos, and other resources!

Want To Participate?

1. Follow me (@mynameisjessamyn), @yoga_davina & our lovely sponsors (@yogiblissbox, @buddha_pants, & @invertyoselfclothing) on Instagram.

2. Post a pic of yourself in the pose of the day- check @yoga_davina & I for daily pose updates. Tag us & hashtag #sizedoesntmatter.

3. At the end of the month we’ll select a few of you to receive goodies from our generous sponsors- don’t forget to tag all your pictures w/ #sizedoesntmatter!

(BTW, if you’re participating via tumblr, just tag your posts #sizedoesntmatter!)

(You can also subscribe to My Youtube Channel. You know, if you want.)

As part of my #curvymonthly online yoga group, I’m doing #curvybeloved - an online yoga and self-portraiture #practice designed to help cultivate self-acceptance and love. This is the picture I shared in response to today’s prompt for ‘Finding Moments of Grounding in Your Day’. The email reminded us that we didn’t have to find a serene or perfect place to take the pic (my usual MO) but rather encouraged us to share the truth about our day, today. So here’s the truth about my day: worn carpet, exposed electrical cords disorganised office paraphernalia on a frantic day; but most importantly, here are my legs and feet grounded and strong in Tadasana (mountain pose). I’ll share selected pictures from this journey here and at the end link to an album with them all. #yoga #fatyoga #curvyyoga