Helen Camisa of Helen Camisa Yoga hopes dismantle the stereotypes that surround full-bodied people. The inspiration behind this initiative? Her life. “I am a full-bodied person who, for a long time, felt that I needed to change in order to fit in and explore the things that I love,” she explains. “I am happy to create a space that welcomes people like me and allows them to see that they don’t have to change a thing to enjoy life and feel connected to their bodies.” Camisa strives to encourage self-acceptance for other full-bodied individuals who may otherwise feel underrepresented or mistreated. “I am a yoga teacher in Vancouver and my classes invite people in big bodies to come and explore the practice in a space where they are welcomed and celebrated.”
Societal norms have long made big-bodied folk feel less than, and the resulting every day struggles they experience is something that requires attention. “Being in a big body can be incredibly uncomfortable,” she says. “Not just because of the body itself, but because society is not set up to support big people. We are constantly sent messages (both directly and otherwise) that we need to change, get smaller, do better, or fit in. It is exhausting.”
Despite the pushback from some, Camisa’s efforts have been well received. Camisa believes organizations and communities can be more inclusive towards full-bodied people by not making any assumptions. “By treating us like equals and not assuming that we want to lose weight. Get to know people as individuals beyond how they look.”
Full Bodied Yoga classes are now on sale and start up again in September.