As every yogi, health guru, naturalist and pretty much every person in the Western world knows, yoga has become an incredibly trendy way to exercise the mind, body, and soul. There are all sorts of yoga practices and studios out there, such as Bikram yoga where you literally practice yoga in a room hotter than the sun with a bunch of other sweaty people to stretch your mind and body and hopefully not die from heatstroke. Yoga in extreme climates is also a trend, I’ve found, like on top of a freaking mountain.

But when you’re like me, someone who is not exactly in the best of shape and has some curves to her figure, actually participating in yoga with anyone besides myself is quite difficult. It has come to my attention in recent years that yoga has become more of a trend to be hip and awesome and cool rather than to stay fit and keep a healthy mind.

Going to yoga studios and being the only larger girl there can be quite a challenge, and a bit embarrassing to say the least; a lot of the people in the room (including the instructor) are fit, taught, and are primarily focused on yoga that stretches the limits of the body that I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around. Even beginners yoga has become quite a challenge.

That is why, I feel, it’s important to recognize that yoga isn’t just for the skinny and the fit; it’s about community, keeping your mind and body healthy, and having a pleasant time. And it was then that it came to my attention from a brilliant friend and coworker of mine that there is such a thing as “fat yoga.” And indeed, upon some research of my own, I found a Fat Yoga studio in Portland, Oregon!

What a glorious discovery this was! Finally, a place where I wouldn’t feel the prying eyes and hear the whispers from other yoga practitioners, but would instead feel positive and great and WONDERFUL about my body and not ashamed at all.

I have yet to make my first trip (as I live several hours away) but you can damn well guarantee it that this will be a stop I will definitely make on my travels up north. In point, it’s very important to realize that no matter what exercise you participate in, everyone has their own sets of challenges and hardships when it comes to doing what’s right for themselves.

For me, yoga is a time where I can relax, unwind, and have fun while forgetting about my daily struggles of keeping up with homework or remembering a certain mathematical formula for tomorrow’s exam. Exercise is not just about getting in shape, it’s about achieving your own goals and happiness that you find important within yourself. And for me, that’s mastering the downward dog and not having a care in the world if my butt looks huge.