Meet the woman teaching 'Fat Yoga' classes

From the motivational quotes on posters on the walls to the brightly-coloured mats and women holding various ‘asanas’ or poses, you could be forgiven for thinking Sarah Harry’s studios in Melbourne are the same as any other yoga classes.

However, to be a member of Ms Harry’s exclusive studios, you have to be fat.

At , women who identify as ‘fat’ are guided through hour-long classes designed to suit their bigger frames, while they are simultaneously advised to leave their feelings of inadequacy at the door.

Different class: Fat Yoga (pictured) is a series of yoga studios situated in Melbourne, where larger women can come along and practise yoga in a 'safe space'

Different class: Fat Yoga (pictured) is a series of yoga studios situated in Melbourne, where larger women can come along and practise yoga in a 'safe space'

Different class: Fat Yoga (pictured) is a series of yoga studios situated in Melbourne, where larger women can come along and practise yoga in a ‘safe space’

‘The aim with Fat Yoga is to create a safe space for larger women to practise yoga,’ Ms Sarah Harry, 43, who is herself a size 18-20, tells Daily Mail Australia. 

 I didn’t realise the word “fat” would resonate with people so much

‘If you think you don’t have the body for yoga, then you’re wrong. I only became a yoga teacher at 40, despite having done yoga for 20 years, because I thought I wasn’t the right size for it.

‘Calling my classes Fat Yoga was something I did after trying several words like curvy. I didn’t realise the word “fat” would resonate with people so much.’

Body positive: The classes are run by Sarah Harry, 43, (pictured), who says that she would like women who do fat yoga to leave their feelings of inadequacy at the door 

Body positive: The classes are run by Sarah Harry, 43, (pictured), who says that she would like women who do fat yoga to leave their feelings of inadequacy at the door 

Body positive: The classes are run by Sarah Harry, 43, (pictured), who says that she would like women who do fat yoga to leave their feelings of inadequacy at the door 

Powerful word: Ms Harry says she only became a yoga teacher at 40, because she always thought she didn't have the body for it - she says she hopes to reclaim the word 'fat'

Powerful word: Ms Harry says she only became a yoga teacher at 40, because she always thought she didn't have the body for it - she says she hopes to reclaim the word 'fat'

Powerful word: Ms Harry says she only became a yoga teacher at 40, because she always thought she didn’t have the body for it – she says she hopes to reclaim the word ‘fat’

Ms Harry was one of the first yogis in Australia to offer the ancient practice to people with bigger bodies.

While the movement was already quite big in the US, when she launched several years ago in Australia, there wasn’t anything like it in the market.

 Once upon a time, fat was the worst thing you could call me

Ms Harry’s Fat Yoga movement currently boasts studios in four locations in Melbourne, and she says that for her one of the biggest challenges when setting up was to reclaim the word ‘fat’:

‘Once upon a time, fat was the worst thing you could call me,’ she says.

‘But Fat Yoga is about taking away the negative power around that word.

‘While some women who come to my classes aren’t always comfortable with the title Fat Yoga, they like the fact that I am comfortable with it.’

Negative power: While the movement is already quite big in the US, when Ms Harry launched several years ago in Australia, there wasn't anything like it in the market

Negative power: While the movement is already quite big in the US, when Ms Harry launched several years ago in Australia, there wasn't anything like it in the market

Negative power: While the movement is already quite big in the US, when Ms Harry launched several years ago in Australia, there wasn’t anything like it in the market

As for weight restrictions, while in regular classes Ms Harry remembers feeling as though yoga was an exclusive club reserved for thin women only, her own community is a different demographic altogether:

‘It’s not up to me to tell you if you’re fat or not – I prefer to let people self-identify,’ she says.

‘But if someone is thin, and comes along to Fat Yoga, I will often tell them this isn’t the place for them.

‘The women who come to my classes are looking for a safe space to do yoga, away from the usual tight abs and thighs. They need to continue to feel safe working out.’

Self identify: While Ms Harry says that she prefers to let people identify themselves as fat, she also says that if someone is thin, then Fat Yoga isn't the space for them 

Self identify: While Ms Harry says that she prefers to let people identify themselves as fat, she also says that if someone is thin, then Fat Yoga isn't the space for them 

Self identify: While Ms Harry says that she prefers to let people identify themselves as fat, she also says that if someone is thin, then Fat Yoga isn’t the space for them 

Another club: She says: 'The women who come to my classes are looking for a safe space to do yoga - they need to continue to feel safe working out'

Another club: She says: 'The women who come to my classes are looking for a safe space to do yoga - they need to continue to feel safe working out'

Another club: She says: ‘The women who come to my classes are looking for a safe space to do yoga – they need to continue to feel safe working out’

Plans for the future: The 43-year-old teacher (pictured) would like to develop Fat Yoga around the country, but she acknowledges that it takes time

Plans for the future: The 43-year-old teacher (pictured) would like to develop Fat Yoga around the country, but she acknowledges that it takes time

Plans for the future: The 43-year-old teacher (pictured) would like to develop Fat Yoga around the country, but she acknowledges that it takes time

The 43-year-old teacher says she does have plans to develop Fat Yoga, and she intends to move it into other locations in Australia one day, too:

‘I would like to take Fat Yoga to other major Australian cities,’ she says.

‘But it takes a while. It’s not just about offering a place for bigger women to do Vinyasa, Iyengar or Yin Yoga For Hair Growth | Yoga Asanas For Hair Gain; it’s also a lot about the teachers. 

‘You need a teacher who is used to working with bigger people.’ 

To find out more about Fat Yoga, and to find out about classes, visit the website here. You can also follow the Body Positive Yoga Instagram account here.

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