On Tuesdays and Thursdays nights at Yoga On Yamhill, starting at 6pm, you can join Heather “Yoga” Jones with Curvy Yoga PDX for an hour of class. Her classes are unique.
The “inhale, raise your arms above your head, exhale, swan dive to a forward fold”; that part might be familiar. The storytelling, workshopping, music and interaction with other students might be as new to you as it was to me.
I began taking yoga at Yoga on Yamhill two years ago. I started at a firm in that neighborhood and liked Yoga on Yamhill because it was close to work and offered a pay-as-you-go sliding scale donation option. The owner, Paul, is generous and has a soothing Yoga voice. I was in his class for a year. I enjoyed it but there were a lot of moves or poses that I could not get into because of my size. I loved how I felt after class physically, but mentally I spent the entire class beating myself up for not being able to do it like the other students. I was frustrated that it was so uncomfortable.
I placed my mat in the back of the room as far away from other students as possible. The drill sergeant in my head, my inner self critic, would really make that class suck for me. It was exhausting comparing myself. I was about to give up yoga all together.
Then one night, as I was leaving class, I caught a glimpse of a different class happening in the studio downstairs. What I saw when I peeked into the slightly opened door were bodies that looked like mine. I looked on the schedule posted in the hallway and there it was; Curvy Yoga with Heather Jones, 6-7:15 pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays. I struggled in yoga for almost a year before I realized I was just in the wrong class.
The next Tuesday night, I showed up to class. I came into the studio and laid my mat in the back of the studio. She started class with a personal story. I immediately appreciated her vulnerability. It was not just an introduction. Her personal story had a lesson and related to class. It was an intention to focus on one thing the entire class. I was in love. The thing that was the most unusual to me was the laughter and conversation. There was no barrier between student and teacher or student to student. Students shared their fear of poses. They shared what came up for them while practicing. And the cherry on top? At the end of each class, Heather offers a lavender oil blessing and sometimes one lovely “OM”. This small act of ceremony always imprints such positivity that we carry with us until the next class.
Curvy yoga is a training and inspiration portal offering workshops, teacher trainings and lots of love and support to people of every size, age and ability. You can find curvy yoga classes all over the world. And the best part is, if you don’t have a curvy yoga near you, you can always ask your teacher to take the training. Curvy yoga is about using props that support and encourage good form without pushing beyond your natural limit. For me, Curvy Yoga has been about community, working around death by boob smoosh and honoring my body and my needs. I enjoy that we talk about body shaming, yoga and the media and the inner critic. I feel like it’s so much more than a yoga class. It nurtures me.
You can find more about Curvy Yoga by visiting these sites below. And look for our interview with Anna Guest Jelley, the founder of Curvy Yoga, coming soon!