Every Body celebrates inclusivity and the representation of human beings in every shape and form.
For many, yoga is a form of self-care — but for Valerie Sagun, who runs the Instagram account Big Gal Yoga, yoga is a political statement and about defying stereotypes. The California-based yoga practitioner has made a point of showing by example that people of any size can take up yoga and commit to the practice, using her social media account and the hashtag #ActuallySheCan to promote her passion.
After practicing seriously for the last six years, Sagun started posting her journey on Tumblr before she made the leap onto Instagram and amassed over 150,000 followers. She found that posting on Instagram was a way for her to document her own progress and helped boost her motivation.
“Yoga gets you to connect and understand your body through movement,” Sagun shared in an interview with Brit + Co. “Where you learn how powerful your actual body is now and the potential it can do in the future with a dedicated practice.”
But she quickly realized that her account was filling a much-needed representation void in the yoga community.
Apart from the internationally recognized yoga teacher Jessamyn Stanley, there, unfortunately, still isn’t adequate representation in the yoga world of plus-size bodies or women of color. Sagun wanted to contribute to the growing body positivity movement while merging her own yoga practices into providing a more visual representation of plus size bodies in the in yoga on the Internet.
“Eventually I became the person I wanted to see being represented practicing yoga,” she tells us “I got to showcase that you can practice yoga at any size, color, or ability you are right now.”
For her, the practice of yoga and its community helped her learn more about herself and her body and she knows her images can help change how others view the yoga world because “representation matters” as Sagun puts not just in the yoga world and the regular world.
In July 2017, Sagun took her mission of visibility offline with the book Big Gal Yoga: Poses and Practices to Celebrate Your Body and Empower Your Life. Sagun’s book helps beginners new to the practice who are looking for tips on how to reach that perfect pose and accept the bodies they’re in. Sagun admits writing a book was a true challenge, but she was happy to release it for those that needed something beyond her Instagram account.
While her account continues to grow in popularity, Sagun has huge plans for 2018 and taking her practice on the road. She has been invited to teach classes on the #NoBodyShameatSea cruise in November with and plans to tour to teach classes across the East coast. Until then, we will keep up with her Instagram work and be inspired.
What inspires you? Tell us @britandco!