How has yoga helped you overcome fear?
My practice helped me realize how much fear I was living in. Yoga helped me find confidence in myself. Once I started trusting myself, my life started shifting in big ways.
To say yoga changed my life is an understatement. Before yoga, I was completely out of touch with my body, mind and spirit. I was constantly in my mind, anxious and full of anxiety.
Yoga taught me tools to be able to know myself better. I’m not saying I never have indecisive moments or moments of anxiety these days, but I have learned ways to recognize it and come back into the present moment.
What are the benefits of your yoga practice?
There are many paths in yoga, we tend to be focused on asana, but there are many other ways to practice. I have personally connected with Bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion. I have experienced the most incredible heart opening and connection with spirit through kirtan (call and response devotional chanting). I have been inspired how to learn to play the harmonium and to lead kirtan. When I first started teaching yoga, I could hardly lead a single chant and now I have the confidence to lead kirtan! I never imagined that I would want to sing in front of other people, but here I am finding my voice and sharing my heart.
How did you find yoga?
I wanted to try yoga, but wasn't sure if I could actually “do” yoga. I had all the assumptions I think most anyone that hasn't tried yoga gad. As I walked into my first gentle yoga class, I was immediately welcomed by the teacher; she was warm and friendly and didn't make me feel like I didn't belong there. I left class thinking, “I don’t know that I got all that much out of that workout, but it was a relaxing!”
The next day my muscles told me a different story, they were actually sore! This realization peaked my interest enough to go back and try another class; I eventually tried many different classes and teachers. The first Anusara class I took was like finding home, just had my heart blown open! The philosophy of intrinsic goodness was so foreign to me, but I wanted to learn more.
In 2011, I was authorized to be an Anusara-Inspired Teacher and a RYT-500! Dreams realized! Those were the early years and since then, Anusara fell hard. I still practice and teach using the Principles of Alignment, but I have started practicing and incorporating other styles of yoga into my life. The demise of Anusara really made me stop and find my own voice in my teaching. I teach hatha yoga and meditation, I don’t want to label it anymore.
What is the greatest lesson you learned from yoga?
If we are living our yoga, we shouldn't be in judgment of each other. If you’re a teacher and a plus size yogi walks into your yoga class, be welcoming, know modifications or “options” for the poses that you are teaching, and above all, be compassionate. Don’t assume that just because I am fat that I know nothing about the practice!
The biggest lesson I have learned is: I can’t let others determine my practice or what I should or shouldn’t do. Practice, investigate, and figure out what works for you and then practice!
What are some challenges you've overcome?
Finding good plus sized yoga clothes is tough! I currently get most of my active wear from Old Navy. They have a nice selection of decent yoga clothes that fit. I recently heard of a company called Lola Getts. I haven’t ordered anything from them yet, but I’m excited to give them a try. I just wish that someone would choose to make clothes and market to us curvy yoginis! If there are any plus size designers out there looking for an ambassador, I’m your girl! There are a lot more of us curvier yoginis out there than you think and we are always looking for awesome yoga clothes!
My dream would be to own some reasonably priced organic yoga clothes that fit and come in colors other than black! I really want to rock some awesome red yoga pants!
In 2014, Gigi Yogini will celebrate 52 different audacious and courageous women to help diversify the face, body and story of yoga in media. It’s time to start showing a wider variety of yoga-loving role models to inspire more women to get on a mat and care for themselves.
Celebrating a different story every week of a courageous woman who loves yoga.
Cami Cote' is a yogini who lives in Missoula, Montana. She is married to Neal, the biggest support in her life. Willow and Jasper their two dogs are a part of their family!