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What Yoga Taught These 16 Instagram Stars About Their Bodies

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    Photo: Via @amber_karnes.

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    What does a yogi look like? There's no perfect mold. Each person practices in his or her own way, for his or her own reasons. And that means yoga can serve an infinite number of purposes.

    Maybe you want to quiet your mind with relaxing breath work. Or perhaps you like to start your day by pushing yourself through an intense vinyasa flow. Or you might be motivated to bend your body into all kinds of impressive poses. Whatever your yoga style (even if you think you don't have one at all), there is a type for you.

    To prove it, we talked to 16 of the most popular yogis on Instagram to learn more about what drives them to their unique forms of practice — and to get their tips for total beginners. Get ready to breathe deep and go with the flow.


    It's your body. It's your summer. Enjoy them both. Check out more #TakeBackTheBeach here.

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  2. Photo: via @biggalyoga.

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    Valerie Sagun (@biggalyoga)

    Do you have any yoga rituals?
    “I’ve gotten more into chanting and meditation, just doing a quick meditation beforehand and doing different mantras. I do a couple that we had done at my yoga teacher training as a start to my practice."

    Has yoga changed the way you feel about your body?
    “Before yoga, I had that stereotypical thing that’s common in people with bigger bodies, where I thought, I can’t do that until I lose weight. [Yoga was part of what] got me over the mental hurdle of always telling myself that. I don’t have to wait to do anything. That has helped me get over my fear of wanting to rock climb... That’s one of the things where I was like, I have to lose a lot of weight. But after yoga, I tried it. Everything has opened up a lot more.”

    Do you think there are any stereotypes about people who do yoga?
    “There’s only been a certain type of people shown doing yoga: thin, blond, white women. That’s the big stereotype of what yoga is, but…it’s not that people who are bigger or people of color haven’t done yoga before, it’s just that we’re all [now] finally being shown in the bigger picture.”

  3. Photo: via @zenjenyogi.

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    Jen Carter (@zenjenyogi)

    Favorite pre-yoga snack:
    “It’s important not to have a full stomach when you practice yoga, but about an hour before I like to eat an apple or an orange, something that has some natural sugar to give me some energy. You need to have energy, so it’s important to eat something, and it’s important to hydrate both before and after yoga.”

    Do you have any other yoga rituals?
    “Prior to the physical practice, I always set an intention...Whether it’s an intention just for that practice or a lifelong intention, just knowing why I’m on the mat is important, so that when things do get hard, I can keep bringing my attention back to my intention.

    “I like to keep it very simple. For instance, if I was in not such a good mood prior to showing up to the mat, I might think to myself, I am happy, so that, as I move through the practice and something makes me not happy (like a pose that I’m not typically fond of), then I can recall that intention. It just shifts whatever I’m doing and helps me look at it in a new way.”

    Describe your body in one word:
    “Loved.”

    Why that word?
    “Because I’ve incorporated a daily meditation practice, and it brought everything into homeostasis... Right now in my life is the first time I truly love my body — every aspect of it — and just love myself. I’ve been divorced for three years and [have] taken this time to really learn to love myself. It sounds cliché, but people always say you can’t love anybody else until you love yourself first, and it’s so true. But loving yourself means taking care of yourself from the inside out, and I’m doing that through meditation, exercise, and picking the right foods.”

    One piece of advice you would give to a beginner:
    “To not judge themselves. To know that this is a practice, and it’s a lifelong practice. If you can’t do a pose today, that’s okay. Just think of it like any other practice, like playing piano; you didn’t show up as Beethoven on the first day. The whole point of the physical practice of yoga is to be flexible in the body so you can be flexible in the mind. As you become more flexible, you’re creating more space in the mind. So be easy on yourself and look at it as a practice.”

  4. Photo: via @badwolfyoga.

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    Rosemarie (@badwolfyoga)

    Favorite pre-yoga snack:
    “I don't usually snack much before practice. But if I do need to fuel up, I go for a banana and a handful of nuts.”

    Favorite post-practice snack:
    “I love to snack on cheese or some Greek yogurt with fruit puree. My current favorite go-to is Chobani Greek Yogurt with mango!”

    Do you have any other yoga rituals?
    “I like to write in my journal as my own form of meditation before my practice. Airing my grievances and putting my worries to paper before I begin helps to clear the air and makes me feel lighter emotionally and physically in my practice.”

    Favorite yoga playlist:
    “I have a ‘Liquid Flow’ playlist on Spotify that I'm still currently building. It's a slower playlist with deep notes and bass, and it makes me feel strong and sexy whenever I practice to it. A few of the artists on there are Lana Del Rey, Alina Baraz, Banks, and FKA Twigs.”

    Describe your body in one word:
    “Resilient.”

    Why that word?
    “I've put my body through a lot over the last 28 years! From self-harm to diets and cleanses, I did not treat my body the way it was supposed to be treated for a long time. But I wake up every morning healthy and alive and pushing through. I bend and I sway, but I will never break.”

    What have you learned about your body by practicing yoga?
    “My body is definitely capable of more than I ever gave it credit for. I was never athletic growing up, so things like Wheel Pose scared the hell out of me! But I was determined and pushed through. And after some pushing I saw that, yes, my back can bend like that. Or, yes, I can do a kickass Crow Pose.”

    Has practicing yoga changed the way you feel about your body?
    “I listen to my body so much more in and out of practice. When I first started practicing, I don't think I was too kind to my body. I pushed a little too much, even though it was telling me over and over again that I needed to slow down, catch my breath. I had tunnel vision — I saw the end result but not what would lead me up to it.”

    One piece of advice you would give to a beginner:
    “Take your time! The journey — not the end result — is where you become you!”

  5. Photo: Via @bodyroots.

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    Jo Meneses (@bodyroots)

    Favorite pre-yoga snack:
    “My favorite anytime snack, especially if I’m going into class on an empty stomach, would be a Granny Smith apple with fresh almond butter. The best almond butter is the one from Whole Foods, right out of the machine.”

    Favorite post-yoga snack:
    “Some sort of green smoothie with...avocado or banana, with lots of different greens, and nut milk.”

    Describe your body in one word:
    “Connected.”

    Why that word?
    “I feel, with my Pilates and yoga background, that I am able to know where I am from head to toe. I know where to place myself, I know how to align myself, I know when to push deeper, and I know when to back off to avoid injury.

    “The Body Roots motto is ‘No movement wasted.’ I don’t feel like people need to kill themselves with excess anything to get a proper workout. I really feel that movement should be well-thought-out and intelligent. And, once you know how to connect to your body, you can do anything you want, from lifting weights to positioning yourself in yoga and avoiding injury.”

    What have you learned about your body by doing yoga?
    “I learned how to just be there. Especially in NYC, it’s a constant moving animal. It’s like a hive that never stops. And whenever I lay my mat down, it’s all about pausing and being where I am [and knowing that] not every day is going to be the same, but just accepting that I’m there to just be in my skin. That’s one of the things that yoga really gave me.”

    Has doing yoga changed the way you feel about your body?
    “Yoga has allowed to be comfortable in my own skin. I’m 44 now, and I’ve been doing yoga for 18 years on and off. But the more I practice, the more I am able to be comfortable with my body and where it is that day, and to not judge it. That’s a tough thing to do… So many things in our society tell us we have to be a certain height, size, wear a certain style. And with yoga, all that gets stripped away.”

  6. Photo: Via @yogawithdavina.

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    Davina Davidson (@yogawithdavina)

    Favorite yoga playlist:
    “I create new playlists every few months, my favorite right now is ‘Free Flowing!’ It's a mix of electronic, house, and deep house.”

    Describe your style of yoga:

    “I teach and practice Rocket yoga. It's a set sequence with the freedom to add into the base sequence.”

    Describe your body in one word:
    “Strong.”

    Why that word?
    “I am not only physically strong but I am mentally strong. My body supports me in every aspect of my life, and it has yet to fail me. I've learned some great lessons, however, I've only gotten stronger!”

    Has practicing yoga changed the way you feel about your body? “Absolutely; at first I didn't really realize how strong or capable I was, because I felt so awkward. However, in time, I've learned so much about acknowledging limits and creating possibility.”

    One piece of advice you would give to a beginner:
    “Stay with it! Oftentimes I coach newer students to just come back — no right and wrong movements, it's just an experience. I say, if they are doing anything that is harmful, I will come and assist them, otherwise I encourage them to listen to their body and accept what it is capable of in that moment. Trust the process!”