Body Positive Yoga interview with Valerie of Big Gal Yoga

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Published on January 29, 2017

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Hey, to all you body positive yogi’s.

It’s Amber Karnes from Body Positive Yoga, and I’m here today with Valerie, who is behind Big Gal Yoga. You’ve probably seen her on Tumblr and Instagram and places all around the internet. So I’m really excited to get to talk to you today, Valerie. How are you? I’m doing good. How are you? I’m good. Thank you so much for your time and for talking to our little community here. First, I was wondering if you would just tell me your yoga story. How did you find yoga, how long have you been practicing, and what keeps you coming back? How is it intertwined, maybe, like with the way you feel that your body, stuff like that.

I started yoga at my University. I had wanted to do yoga back when I was a freshman in college, but I just blew it of. I just wanted to do it just because. Eventually, a handful of years down the line, eventually my best friend had taken a class, and it reminded me that I wanted to take it. I decided to take one of the classes there and I was really excited for it I was excited even though I was struggling the first day, that I had a good times doing it. I think eventually, during one of the classes, I had come in like really frustrated. Finally, I went through the whole flow and stuff. I felt really calm afterwards, so that kinda felt like that was kinda the best  felt like there was a connection there with me with it. I kinda just kept doing it, and then it was very casual still. Then eventually it got like Groupon and went to one of my local yoga studios and I started going there I really liked it and yeah.

Eventually it was just kinda very off and on, and then eventually, I kinda started, I started my Tumblr or as my friend asked me to be to be maid of honor and I kinda wanted to start that. It wasn’t  it set my attention but not by losing a ton of weight, but I would do it through kinda like actually do through yoga and stuff. That’s kind of how it started with my yoga. Cool. So a lot of folks have been inspired by you being visible online practicing yoga as a bigger woman, as a woman of color. Can you talk a little bit about why  maybe why you do that? Why you’re visible, and if you think  why diverse bodies are important to be seen in yoga. Also, you know, when I did start, I was trying to find  it was very difficult for me to find people who were  I actually found you, like, when I first started. To like find a good bike modification for the Sun Salutations  besides that, it was very minimal.

I think that was also when I made my Tumblr for that. That I wanted to be  I know I eventually, I also saw cycled “The Big Girls Guide to Life.” It was a blog and I kinda was fired by that so I kinda wanted to do that for myself. Then I mean, there is sometimes when I see through yoga that it is very black and white light, kinda literally, so sometimes  I’m half Filipino, half Mexican and I don’t see that many Asians or many Mexicans, but I’m still kinda like no way representing women of color, even though I’ve been very embraced by, well, maybe like the back yogis. That’s really it. It’s really great and awesome. I also want to encourage more like other women of color of different ethnicities to try yoga for themselves and I’ve come from like, different communities of people who’ve talk to me about eating disorders like not just whether being a a big person with either, but someone who’s gone through anorexia or bulimia. They’ve asked me like how do I find my confidence, and how I  They seem very inspired and just very happy that I’m enjoying myself out there.

Yeah, for sure. So as you’ve been visible online in photos, you’ve posted pictures of yourself in various states of undress. Yoga clothes, you know, your underwear, little yoga shorts, and stuff like that. I know you’ve probably gotten some negative feedback about your body from time to time. How do you deal with the haters on the internet? When I first started, I started on Tumblr. Kinda there is like a very safe place, and so I never really got really any haters there. It was kinda easy to kinda get by. I’d only get like the one message, like, “Oh, you’re fat.” It was like, “Yeah I’m fat, so?” That was like the very extent of that, and I knew that on Facebook would be very  I i’ve seen a lot of the comments on people who would share so my stuff, and you would get like the whole log list of people  just like negative comments about talking about how I eat and assuming all these things.

It’s just like, they can say all they want, but like, they literally don’t know me. Recently, the one who was irritating me on Instagram as like, the way she was talking was just like, she’s talking like she knows me, but, like, you don’t know me. You really know me. I was just like, how could she assume anything of me and know where I live. I kinda just wrote her off because I just  no one knows me. I still and trying to know me, and it’s like, I just kind of mostly blow it off. Yeah, definitely. So tell me about what is one pose you love and a one pose you totally hate. Definitely Mermaid. Like, when I first tried that out, it was after like I really like vision, so trying that, I thought it was just beautiful, and I love mermaids.

I really love that pose. But the poll that I loathe the most is like a  its its a tie between Eagle and Horse Face. Oh yeah. It’s something about like, a bind like my arms  Wrapping? Yeah. I can do it. Technically, I’m doing it, but like my boobs don’t like it and my arms don’t like it. It’s just like, okay, it’s not working. Right, I hear you. I try like an hour trying to do that pose, and it just hurts so much. Yeah, not good. So what’s one tip that you have for people who want to start in maintaining yoga practice? I know you have a really great resource for people that want to get started with yoga, and I’ll be including that in the post, for sure, the video, but what’s maybe one tip that you have for people that want to get started with yoga? Mostly always have to remind people that you don’t always have to be like strong or flexible to start, which is very hard to like ingrain into their mind a lot, and I mostly just kind of like  I have a like a Tumblr post of like how to do yoga, and that’s just like a list of the Sun Salutations, and a bunch of links to like, YouTube.

Also, one to your link, and than a Hatha Yoga practice and more extra videos. That’s all I can really feel like I give to people who want to start, because that’s just how I kinda started, and I feel that’s the most comfortable way to get into it without it being so, “Oh, let’s do a really intense Vinyasa Flow!” That’s usually how it turns off people, so I just try to find something to ease people into it in a very gentle way. Yeah, definitely. That makes a lot of sense, I think. I love what you said about you don’t have to be strong or flexible to start, because I definitely  when I tell my friends that I teach yoga or whatever, and they’re like, “Oh I want to come to yoga, but I’m just not flexible.” I’m like, “But you get flexible coming to yoga,” so, you know, it kinda funny, that circular, backwards logic that people have. That’s good advice. Tell us when you have coming up that other folks can participate in, or something that you’re excited about that you’re working on, or what’s going on in your life that’s good? At the moment, I’m kind of like a little busier now.

I have  I’m an artist, so I have  I’m doing my Bachelor of Fine Arts, and I know I have an art show at the end. It’s being years working on it, so I really need to work on that. Yoga-wise, near May, I was gonna start planning. I wanted to like do a Bay Area Instagram meet-up, because it’s the place where I used to practice yoga. It’s a big  it’s a private community center, and there’s a ton of space, two rooms I could use. I wanted to have like talking with one of my local yoga studios and they said that they want to collaborate with me on that, so we’re gonna try to do a thing of like, having a certain amount of people, and then having, maybe some classes taught. It’s just very up in the air still, but I’m trying to do that. Again, for anybody that’s watching this video, what would you want to say to them? Well, I guess, I know it’s always hard to keep maintaining your practice and stuff, and we all get discouraged kind of things, but always try to keep, like, stay positive no matter what, and try to keep finding a motivation.

I usually try to keep motivated by trying to practice poses. That’s usually how I stay motivated, where I want to keep practicing, and keeps me motivated to keep going, and also just the community, especially the Instagram yogis, is just really awesome to keep encouraging. Yeah, definitely. Well, very cool. Well, thank you for posting your practice online. I know it’s been a really big inspiration for me, and I love it when I see your images, and I love it when you post practicing on poses, especially like  I know you’re done videos on like, compass pose, and different things that that like most people probably don’t practice those poses a lot, and it’s  you know we get to see a lot of finished, sort of perfect poses posted everywhere, but it’s really cool to see that kind of progress. Like, this is how I’m working on stuff, because the I think that kinda stuff doesn’t get posted a lot, so I just wanna say personally, like, thanks for putting that out there.

I’m glad that people like it, because I know like sometimes when I posted photos, people were like  and when I was practicing handstands, people were like, always like, always assuming that I already knew how to do a handstand. It’s like, no, that’s actually a screen capture me kind of getting into it. I’d always have to like, remind people that it was like, “I’m practicing it. I’m not there yet.” Right, so thank you so much for all your time today and for talking with our little community here, and I hope you have a great day.

We’ll see you on the internet. Yes, see my thing. Okay, thanks..

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