What’s in a name?
I’ve always struggled with labels, especially in yoga. When asked what style I teach, I don’t have a one word answer. Even the name of this blog went through about 100 iterations in my head before I settled on “Supportive Yoga”.
When I signed on to teach “Plus Size Yoga” at Blue Heron over a year ago, I was excited that such a class was being offered and that I was going to get to teach it. But, I have to admit that I cringed a bit at the name. I know what the studio was trying to do – find a way to describe the class in non-judgmental terms that would be easily understood.
Here are my issues with “Plus Size” as a way to describe yoga, and the class I teach:
1. It’s a largely arbitrary term taken from, of all places, the fashion industry. I don’t want to impose a term that has been imposed on me by an industry that is extremely unfriendly to the majority of women.
2. It’s exclusive in that most men don’t think of themselves as “plus size” even though they might benefit from the practice offered in the class.
3. The kind of supportive practice I teach can be useful to a much broader array of students than just those who identify with the term “plus size”. Anyone who is struggling in their body or looking to make yoga work for them would benefit.
Why not name the class Supportive Yoga? Well – short answer is I tried that and they didn’t bite. Long answer – I can see why they didn’t go for it. While I love the term “Supportive Yoga” for what I am trying to do here, I can see how it might not be an intuitive description of a class to someone who is looking for a studio yoga practice.
I’ve done a lot of research and come across a million different alternative class names for “Plus Size Yoga”. The names range from brilliant to cringe-worthy to comical. My favorite tongue-in-cheek title is “Yoga for not so slender benders”. My colleagues in the online yoga community have come up with some good ones as well.
After a lot of thought, I decided to ask the studio to change the class name to “Yoga for Every Body”. I’m hoping that this name will encourage students who may have felt alienated by the “plus size” nomenclature but will allow me to maintain a welcoming and safe space for all to practice, especially those of us with large and/or round bodies.
What do you think? What would you name a class that catered to “atypical” yoga bodies?