Yoga has been around since the 1st millennium and is one of the most popular forms of exercise today. Any city you visit, you will see dozens of men and women carrying around a yoga mat on their way to their lunchtime class. It is easy to see why many people looking to lose a few pounds would flock to these yoga studios. Yoga teachers are notoriously skinny.
Why are yoga teachers so skinny? Yoga teachers are masters of a practice that teaches discipline and control over your body. They stand taller, form lean muscle, and control their weight through yoga. Additionally, yoga teachers follow Ahimsa, the promise against violence, which encourages them to live a vegan lifestyle.
The lifestyle that yoga teaches is learned through the ancient study of yoga training. Yogi’s are taught of the eight limbs of Yoga and are encouraged to follow them. The first limb, Yama, means moral restraint, and there are five Yamas; Ahimsa, which is non-violence, Satya, which means truthfulness, Asteya, which is to not steal, Brahmacharya, which means to use your energy right, and Aparigraha, which means to not be greedy or hoard.
» MORE: How Much Do Certified Yoga Teachers Make Vs. Non-Certified?
Why Are Yoga Teachers Skinny?
Yoga teachers practice a lifestyle of discipline and restraint. They eat strict diets and are active on a daily basis. It is often argued that yoga isn’t an effective way to lose weight. Many argue that yoga isn’t active or fast-paced enough. They believe that heavy weights and protein supplements are the only effective way to lose weight and gain muscle.
The truth is, yoga requires a lot of physical strength, exceptional balance, endurance, and flexibility. It might be even more complex than a day lifting weights. Yoga not only demands the strengthening and stretching of your body, but it also needs the mind and soul to develop along the way. This ensures a harmonious and balanced lifestyle.
The more balanced your lifestyle, the taller you stand. Yoga has a way of bringing peace to the mind and taking a weight off your shoulders. This will help you look more youthful and healthier, which in turn makes you look more lean and slender with the way that you will carry yourself.
Not only is it an effectual way to stay active and healthy, but many yoga teachers also have diets that are mostly plant-based or vegan, which helps immensely to shed any excess weight. Without the processed and greasy food eaten by most of today’s society, yoga teacher’s bodies don’t have to burn or store excess calories. This is a key factor in how yoga teachers stay skinny.
Are All Yoga Teachers Vegan?
The term Ahimsa is probably the first and foremost Yama that is mentioned and followed. The life of a Yogi is meant to be enlightened and at peace. Their rules teach against harming others, which includes the food they eat. To be vegan is to avoid eating anything that comes from an animal because the animal would have been harmed in producing the food.
Though this is a practice taught to all yoga teachers, not all of them are Vegan. Many today don’t practice this lifestyle. It’s a heavily debated topic as to whether or not yoga teachers have to be vegan to be yoga teachers.
Many yoga teachers started out their careers as vegans but were instructed by their doctors to eat meat again because of how unhealthy they were. If not done right, being vegan can cause hyper and hypothyroidism, Graves’ disease, a high heart rate, chronic fatigue, and many other serious side effects. It goes to say that if not done properly, a vegan lifestyle can be pretty dangerous.
If a yoga teacher is advised to eat meat by a doctor, or they simply like meat too much to give up, they will practice a vegan or vegetarian diet. If the animals are raised in conditions that are unhealthy or in their opinion, inhumane, they will forgo the meat. Yogi’s that still choose to eat meat are often looked down upon by their fellow yoga community and classes.
The same goes for vegans and vegetarians outside of the yoga community. Yogi’s that practice a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle are often chastised and verbally attacked by their friends, family, and sometimes complete strangers wanting to share their opinions. The moral of this story is this: it’s impossible to please everybody, so do what’s best for you.
» MORE: Why Do Yoga Teachers Change Their Names?
A Common Misconception
The world of Yogis is a kaleidoscope of different shapes, sizes, colors, and genders. Yoga teachers don’t have to be skinny to be yoga teachers. Many of them aren’t skinny. Yoga is a practice meant to teach you how to love yourself, not compare yourself to others.
And the fact of the matter is when a woman bears a child her hips widen and don’t go back to their original shape. Because of this, it is difficult to get a slender figure after childbirth. But you can still be fit. Many yoga teachers are fit mothers that have child-bearing hips. Students often leave to look for a more slender yoga teacher because they also believe their teacher has to be skinny. This is simply not true.
Today, if you google “yoga body”, you will find many photos of both women and men, slender and in a yoga pose. But you will also find yogis that don’t have that picture-perfect, toned and slender body. In fact, the softer the belly is, the easier it is to do the standing backbend pose. So, I ask, does having a soft belly make you a better yoga teacher? The answer is subjective, and so is the belief that a person has to be skinny to be a yoga teacher.
At the end of the day, yes, yoga practices can teach a person healthy lifestyle habits that can lead to weight loss. It teaches yogis to eat a whole-food, plant-based diet and how to deal with a stressful life. So, instead of binge eating ice cream and pizza on a rough day, you will turn to mediation and yoga. If done regularly, yoga can also increase your metabolism which will help you lose weight and gain strong lean muscle.
» MORE: Top 3 Best Online Yoga Teacher Training [My Honest Opinion]
The Main Goal
Practicing yoga for that firm and fit body should not be the only incentive a person has to practice it though. Yoga teaches a person how to have a balanced and healthy lifestyle while finding inner and outer peace. It focuses on creating a harmonies mind, body, and soul in order to help you have a contented perception of your life.
A yoga student seeking to better themselves should not be critical of a yoga teachers’ body, they should be critical of what the yoga teacher is teaching. If a yoga teacher discriminates against someone because they have a different opinion on diets and they have a different shape to their body, that should be a red flag to find a new yoga teacher. Because that teacher isn’t practicing the most important Yama in that moment, Ahimsa, to cause no harm.
The most important aspects of yoga are the rules it teaches. These rules help better an individual’s outlook on life and have a side effect of compassion. The limbs of Yoga are meant to bring clarity and self-acceptance. Once you find those, you will find peace in your body. As a side effect of that, your lifestyle will be healthier and you will begin to feel and look healthier, stronger, and more energetic.