Yoga for Elephants

Yoga for Elephants | | #everybody #yoga #accessible

Laurent de Brunhoff, the son of Babar creator Jean de Brunhoff, wrote BABAR’S YOGA for Elephants. Originally published in 2002, the book provides step-by step instructions on yoga asanas (poses) and shows how yoga can be used in daily life and travels.

Using Babar to show various poses breaks the western stereotype that you must be tall and slim to practice yoga. Even though Babar is a cartoon figure, it allows a person who carries weight to consider that their body could possibly move through flows and practice the meditative effects of yoga.

Given that this was written over 15 years ago, de Brunhoff was ahead of his time. The image of yoga in North America is only now starting to show a representative image of the practice. Just scroll through the cover pages of Yoga Journal on the Toronto Public Library website. Almost all of the covers involve a female model, skinny, and generally blonde.

Until the January 2019 issue with Jessamyn – in her words, “a black fatty who doesn’t hate themselves on the cover of one of the whitest magazines”. Why is this significant? She is representing a large portion of the yoga-practicing nation. People can relate to her.

The classes I teach are a representation of this forgotten group. I have people doing chair yoga, individuals that use walkers and canes, two participants in wheelchairs, various replacement parts (e.g. hip/knee), the usual stress related aches and pains … and they all range in body size, race, gender and age. Sadly, Yoga Journal didn’t run Jessamyn’s cover on all the copies and did half of the issues with another typical model. I don’t know anyone who can recreate the cover on the right (or would want to!).

Yoga for Elephants | | #everybody #yoga #accessible

I admit that I read Yoga Journal, they do have some good articles and can help me with my teaching and personal practice. BUT and this is a big BUT, it is the imagery that they promote that stopped me from doing this for YEARS. Why would someone like me (aka not a size 2) ever go and become a yoga instructor? I have a hard enough time with the criticism I get for being a fitness instructor and that doesn’t require becoming a pretzel and being graceful at the same time.

The promotion of this imagery also means that many in the general population think that “good” instructors or “real” instructors have to look like the cover of the magazine. I have been told (more than once) by a participant that I had no right to be teaching, that I was a disgrace to the industry, and that I couldn’t motivate anyone since I’m fat. Well, I’ve been doing this for 20 years – that is why. I have worked hard to achieve, maintain and add to my certifications including my canfitpro Fitness Instructor Specialist and East to West Yoga 200hr Certified teacher. And I believe that I can help.

Why can’t we promote that EVERY BODY and EVERYBODY can practice fitness & yoga and we can do it anywhere? Going back to Babar’s Yoga for Elephants, he gracefully practices yoga on the subway, in the park, at the airport, and in front of international treasures like the Eiffel Tower. In the end, most people want to feel better and have a nicer spirit. It doesn’t matter how we look when we are doing it. I’m proud to be the graceful elephant inspiring others.


In the comments, please share your thoughts on media imagery or making yoga accessible! And remember to follow us and SPROUT a conversation on Twitter – @sproutbalance – and Facebook!

Looking for some ideas on recipes, organization or things to do with your Lil Sprout? Come check out my Pinterest page and the things that inspire me to become more balanced.


canfitpro 2015

canfitpro 2015

Each year I attend the Canadian Fitness Professionals (canfitpro) Toronto Conference and Trade Show. Registered members, like myself, are required to complete education credits to maintain their certifications. We do this by attending workshops, lectures or trainings. The Toronto event also includes the trade show where we can purchase new equipment at a discount.

I thought I would give you a highlight of some of the presentations I enjoyed. These presenters have resources on their sites that may guide you on your journey to becoming more balanced.

Kathy Smart | Live the Smart Way
After being diagnosed with celiac at a young age, Kathy realized that her life’s mission was to help others with the disease or gluten sensitivity. Kathy is an entertaining presenter that truly has a passion to share her knowledge and help others.

Drew Hume | Navina
I took two sessions with Drew: Thai Yoga Massage and Ayurveda & Food. Both were insightful and encouraged me to explore these topics in more detail. I was surprised how relaxing Thai Yoga Massage is for both the giver and the receiver. My hope is that my husband will learn a bit so I can get some assisted stretching at home.

Dai Manuel | aka The Moose is Loose 
Given that Sprouting Balance is a new business and does have an Internet presence, I felt it was important to learn a little bit more about social media. I do hope that his sessions are offered again in 2016 as there are others that I did not get to take.

Jully Black | Artist/Presenter 
I have to admit that I didn’t understand why canfitpro decided to invite Jully Black for the closing ceremonies. What does a musician have to say about fitness? I was presently surprised by a beautiful presentation that included stories about perseverance intermingled with her powerful songs. By the end, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

canfitpro 2015 - Jully Black

These are merely highlights and an opportunity for you to check out some passionate people in the health and wellness field. You can also check out the hashtag #worldfitnessexpo on twitter to see what my fellow participants found worthy of sharing.

Looking for some ideas on recipes, organization or things to do with your Lil Sprout? Come check out my Pinterest page and the things that inspire me to become more balanced.

In the comments, please share articles that you read this week that helped you SPROUT some BALANCE! And remember to follow us and SPROUT a conversation on Twitter – @sproutbalance