Ragen Chastain on being a fat athlete, IRONMAN training, and using the body you have today

Ragen Chastain - Ragen is pictured in a dance pose against a white backdrop. She is caucasian, fat, with long dark wavy hair and a determined look on her face. She balances on her right foot, while she stretches her left foot high, up near her head, and holds it with her left hand. Her right hand is gracefully reaching up and away from her toward the right.In today’s video interview, I’m pleased to introduce you to Ragen Chastain! Ragen has been a huge inspiration to me for years and her activism work around size acceptance and fat discrimination are so impactful and absolutely necessary.

Ragen is a trained researcher, three-time National Champion dancer and marathoner who writes and speaks full-time about self-esteem, body image, and health. Ragen is the author of the blog DancesWithFat and the book Fat: The Owner’s Manual, and her writing has been published in forums including the Huffington Post, Calgary Herald, Jezebel.com and The Frisky.com. She has been a guest on programs including Fox News, Alberta Primetime, HuffPost Live, NPR, BBC, and NBC News, and has been featured as an expert in media including The Associated Press, Bloomberg Businessweek, FITNESS, and the Chicago Tribune. She is the editor of the multi-volume anthology The Politics of Size – Perspectives from the Fat Acceptance Movement, due out for Praeger in 2015.

In this interview, I talked with Ragen about being a fat athlete, IRONMAN training, using the body you have today, and much more. Check it out:

Connect with Ragen

You can find Ragen around the internet at the following places:

Dances With Fat – Ragen’s excellent blog, full of resources on size acceptance, fat activism, and Health At Every Size. You can also support Ragen’s activism and become a contributing member to her blog.

IronFat – where you can follow Ragen’s IRONMAN training

The Fit Fatties Forum and Fit Fatties Facebook page – where anyone, of any size can discuss fitness from a weight-neutral, Health at Every Size perspective

Buy Ragen’s book and dance DVDs

Join the Dances With Fat newsletter list

Facebook | Twitter

I hope you were inspired by this interview! If you have any questions for Ragen, stick ‘em in the comments below.

Body Positive Yoga Interview series

If folks are doing work around yoga, body image, or radical self-acceptance, I want to talk to them! If there’s someone you’d like for me to interview, let me know in the comments – who would you like to hear from? What should I ask them?

Rachel Estapa on Health at Every Size®, learning to listen to yourself, and having fun in the process

In today’s video interview, I’m pleased to introduce you to Rachel Estapa!

Rachel Estapa

Rachel Estapa, founder of More To Love, is a certified coach, writer and social entrepreneur who focuses on creating an accepting community for plus size women to explore health and wellness. Through writing, private coaching, online group-coaching programs and on-site workshops, she educates plus size women on how to redefine what positive body image and health can be, enabling them to lead happier, healthier and more empowered lives.

Rather than focus on a weight-loss centered approach to wellbeing, Rachel’s approach to body positive behaviors is grounded in principals of self-acceptance and Health At Every Size®. Through her dedicated programs, she helps women learn how to apply body-accepting practices to their daily lives.

In this interview, I talked with Rachel about Health at Every Size®, learning to listen to yourself, having fun with the process, and much more. Check it out:

More To Love Class

More To Love Class

Rachel’s MTLClass is a month-long online course to teach women like you how to love their body and make health and happiness work for your unique life. MTLClass women value personal growth and desire freedom from negative body image.

Students of the More To Love Class receive daily easy-to-follow activities comprised of exercises and assignments designed to teach an aspect of body confidence. Each student shares their work in a private and secure online social network, and receives encouragement and feedback from peers and from the instructor, Rachel Estapa. Rachel is a trained, certified, and fully accredited life coach whose writing and work on body acceptance has been featured in print and online publications worldwide.

Enrollment closes on Sunday, April 11, so don’t wait! Register here.

Connect with Rachel

You can find Rachel around the internet at the following places:

More To Love with Rachel | MTL Facebook Community | Twitter | Instagram

You should also check out Rachel’s article at The Huffington Post, I am happier, heavier.

I hope you were inspired by this interview! If you have any questions for Rachel, stick ‘em in the comments below.

All photos by M. Davidson-Schapiro Photography.

Body Positive Yoga Interview series

If folks are doing work around yoga, body image, or radical self-acceptance, I want to talk to them! If there’s someone you’d like for me to interview, let me know in the comments – who would you like to hear from? What should I ask them?

Rosie Molinary on radical self-acceptance, living your purpose & the myth of effortless perfection

In today’s video interview, I’m pleased to introduce you to Rosie Molinary!

A photo of Rosie Molinary. In the picture, 3/4 of Rosie's face is in the picture, and she is grinning at the camera. Rosie is a Latina woman with curly, dark hair and brown eyes. She's wearing a blue, v-neck top.Rosie is an author, speaker, and teacher. She works with women to empower them to embrace their authentic selves so they can live their passion and purpose and give their gifts to the world. Rosie is the author of two books, Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance and Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up LatinaIn addition to writing, she teaches body image at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, offers workshops and retreats for women, and speaks on self-acceptance, body image, media literacy, the Latina experience, and social justice around the country.

In this interview, I talked with Rosie about radical self-acceptance, living on purpose, the myth of “effortless perfection”, and much more. Check it out:

Beautiful You: A Daily Guide To Radical Self-AcceptanceRosie’s books

I highly recommend both Rosie’s books if you’re interested in digging into the topics of self-acceptance and practical self-care.

Passion. Purpose. Peace Retreat

Rosie is throwing an amazing retreat in Davidson, NC, May 29-30! Here’s the scoop on thePassion. Purpose. Peace Retreat: At this one and a half-day retreat, we’ll spend our time together filtering out the excess noise while identifying and embracing what is most true for you in how to live authentically and create the life you want.

We will forge a deeper self-awareness, practice greater self-acceptance, and examine your self-care in a way that empowers you to be your greatest ally.  

We will discover what you want your legacy to be and how to live in a way that aligns with whom and how you most want to be in the world while allowing you to creatively express your passion and purpose in a personally crafted mission statement and manifesto.  

You will be guided in creating an action plan that guides your wants and needs at a pace and in a way that is just right for your life. 

Ultimately, you will leave Passion. Purpose. Peace invigorated, focused, and clear with a sense of confidence in what you uniquely offer the world and a vision for how to live on purpose in an authentic, whole-hearted way.

Get more details & register now!

Connect with Rosie

You can find Rosie around the internet at the following places:

RosieMolinary.com | Facebook | Twitter

I hope you were inspired by this interview! If you have any questions for Rosie, stick ‘em in the comments below.

Body Positive Yoga Interview series

If folks are doing work around yoga, body image, or radical self-acceptance, I want to talk to them! If there’s someone you’d like for me to interview, let me know in the comments – who would you like to hear from? What should I ask them?

Dana Sturtevant on trying different (not harder), body trust, and why you shouldn’t go on another diet

In today’s video interview, I’m pleased to introduce you to Dana Sturtevant!

Dana Sturtevant - she is white with blond, short hair. In this picture she is kneeling in front of a wall of green leaves. She is wearing a sleeveless shirt and jeans, and is smiling at the camera. She's petting a very cute black and white French bulldog.Dana Sturtevant is a registered dietitian, a nutrition therapist, and co-founder of Be Nourished. She works with clients on healing their relationship with food, developing sustainable health practices, and is also a yoga teacher. Dana blogs about mindfulness, yoga, Intuitive Eating, Health at Every Size®, and the Slow Food Movement. Her private practice, Be Nourished, in Portland, OR.  For more information, visit www.benourished.org.

In this interview, I talked with Dana about trying different (not harder), body trust, why you shouldn’t go on another diet, and much more. Check it out:

Body Trust™ Resources

Connect with Dana

You can find Dana & Be Nourished around the internet at the following places:

Be Nourished | Facebook | Twitter

I hope you were inspired by this interview! If you have any questions for Dana, stick ‘em in the comments below.

Body Positive Yoga Interview series

If folks are doing work around yoga, body image, or radical self-acceptance, I want to talk to them! If there’s someone you’d like for me to interview, let me know in the comments – who would you like to hear from? What should I ask them?

September 2015: Body Positive Yoga Summer Camp at Heartstone Lodge

This event is SOLD OUT!

I created a waiting list. If you’d like to be notified if someone cancels last minute, please fill out this form. If you’d like to be notified of other retreats, make sure you sign up for the newsletter (in the sidebar).

MeJoin me for 4 days and 3 nights of yoga, swimming, nature, and all the rejuvenation the Virginia mountains have to offer!

After the first Body Positive Yoga Summer Camp sold out in less than a week, I knew I had to book another retreat for 2015! I am so thrilled to announce this wonderful event: Body Positive Yoga Summer Camp at Heartstone Lodge.

Body Positive Yoga Summer Camp at Heartstone Lodge

Come expecting a 4-day, 3-night weekend retreat packed with yoga, joyful exploration of nature, my favorite swimming holes, camaraderie, relaxation, rejuvenation, laughter, body-positive discussion, and self-care at the beautiful Heartstone Lodge and South River Highlands country retreat, in the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

All experience levels are welcome, including complete beginners to yoga. All bodies – especially YOUR body – will be celebrated and accommodated.

Body Positive Yoga Summer Camp
at Heartstone Lodge

September 17-20, 2015
Lexington, Virginia

This event is for you if…

  • You want to feel wonderful and free in your unique, imperfect, powerful body for a whole weekend
  • You want to be around likeminded, body positive folks who will accept you without judgment
  • You want to practice yoga, but can’t find a teacher that knows how to accommodate your unique body
  • You’ve tried yoga before but were frustrated or had a bad experience
  • You want to stretch or strengthen your yoga practice with a teacher who knows non-conforming bodies and can help you find your own unique way to practice
  • You want an entire weekend packed with body positive conversation, joyful movement, and laughter
  • You want to have time away from the distractions and stress of everyday life – either alone or with your friends to rest, relax, and rejuvenate
  • You want the ultimate summer camp experience
  • You want to meet your new BFFs in the Virginia mountains this summer

yoga4

I’ve put a ton of dreaming and planning into making this the best retreat possible, and it just won’t be the same without YOU. Please join me in September for Body Positive Yoga Summer Camp at Heartstone Lodge!

 

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What’s included?

  • 12 delicious, healthy, locally-sourced meals (dietary restrictions are easily accommodated)
  • 7 Body Positive Yoga classes led by Amber
  • 2 Campfire Chats – facilitated discussions on topics like radical self-acceptance, Health At Every Size, and practical self-care
  • Summer fun on-site or nearby – you can participate in everything, or just relax in the gorgeous surroundings.

On Friday and Saturday, we will organize groups to travel off-site to adventure nearby, or you can choose to stay at the beautiful Heartstone Lodge and take advantage of all the site has to offer.

Daytime activities could include nature walks, quiet contemplation in the meditation gardens, labyrinth, or mountaintop meadow, swimming at my favorite local swimming holes, hiking, exploring, shopping in nearby Lexington, adventuring in Rockbridge county, visiting Virginia Safari Park or Natural Bridge, and lots more! It’s up to you!

Meet your camp counselor - Dana aka Nolatrees

I am super excited to announce that Dana Falsetti AKA nolatrees is going to be your official camp counselor at the Body Positive Yoga retreat this September! During the retreat, Dana will be my yogi sidekick – assisting in classes, helping facilitate our Fire Pit Chats about self acceptance & self care, and generally being around to encourage y’all as official summer camp hype man! You can check out Dana on Instagram and my video interview with her here.

Ticket Price

$349 (plus accommodations)

The $349 ticket price includes tuition and all meals. You’ll book your own lodging accommodations through South River Highlands. Scroll down for a sneak peek of the accommodations.

Lodging prices vary from $45/night for a single bed in the shared dorm to $188/night for a gorgeous private cabin. Many cabins have room for 3 or more people. Bring your friends and save money!

Primitive camping is also available – if you’re interested in that option, inquire when you make your reservation!

 

 

lodge-camp-2

Retreat Schedule

This is YOUR summer camp retreat and you can participate as little or as much as you’d like! Even if you take part in every planned activity, you’ll still have plenty of time to rest, read, draw, paint, craft, swim in the river, go on a meditative walk through nature, explore the beautiful grounds, take a nap, laze about in a hammock under the trees, or just sit by the fire pit and chat with new friends.

Note: mealtimes are planned around yoga classes so you don’t end up practicing on a full tummy, but light snacks and water will be available all day, if you need something to hold you over!

Thursday, September 17
3:00-6:00pm – Register and settle in
6:00-7:00pm – Dinner
7:00-8:00pm – Introductions, Camp Orientation
8:00-9:30pm – Grounding, gentle yoga class & guided relaxation with Amber

Friday, September 18

6:45-8:00am – Challenging, powerful yoga class with Amber
8:30-9:45am – Energizing, strengthening yoga class with Amber
9:45-10:30am – Breakfast
10:30-5:30pm – On-site relaxation or off-site fun of your choice
1:00-2:00pm – Lunch for those who don’t go off-site
6:00-7:30pm – Gentle, restorative yoga class with Amber
7:30-8:45pm – Dinner
7:00-8:30pm – Fire Pit Chat: Radical Self-Acceptance

Saturday, September 19

8:30-9:45am – Energizing, strengthening yoga class with Amber
9:45-10:30am – Breakfast
10:30-5:30pm – On-site relaxation or off-site fun of your choice
1:00-2:00pm – Lunch for those who don’t go off-site
6:00-7:30pm – Gentle, restorative yoga class with Amber
7:30-8:45pm – Dinner
7:00-8:30pm – Fire Pit Chat: Practical Self-Care

Sunday, September 20
8:30-9:45am – Energizing, strengthening yoga class with Amber
9:45-10:30am – Breakfast
10:30-11:00am – Closing circle & goodbyes

What do I need to bring?

Body Positive Yoga Summer Camp is a low-pressure, judgment free weekend of self-care. Think comfortable and casual when you’re packing! Bring with you:

  • Your yoga mat, any yoga props you have
  • Comfortable clothing that doesn’t restrict movement (for yoga, hiking, lounging)
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Your bathing suit and a beach towel if you’d like to swim in the river (I also definitely recommend water shoes or old tennis shoes you don’t mind getting wet and muddy!)
  • Whatever you like for relaxation time: a book, a craft, a sketchbook or journal, or nothing at all!
  • Bug repellant (just in case), sunscreen, sunglasses or sun hat
  • Favorite snacks if you like
  • An open mind, a friendly smile, and your awesome self

 

About Heartstone Lodge & South River Highlands

The retreat and nature preserve is located above the confluence of the Maury and South Rivers on 250 acres of forests, meadows and hayfields. From our hilltops you will have a 360 degree, seven county view of the Alleghenies, the Blue Ridge and the interesting cone shaped mountains of Buena Vista. The view stretches on forever.

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Authentic, rustic log cabins from the Shenandoah Valley date from 1775 to early 1900’s. The fireplaces are of stone or hand made bricks. Each cabin has an array of porches, decks, loft hideaways, queen sized beds, modern kitchens and baths. All have heat and air conditioning. Each cabin is wonderfully unique.

Deer, wild turkey, over 100 species of birds and much other wildlife inhabits this nature preserve. The natural world is just outside your window. Hike on the network of internal trails or stroll along the Maury River’s Chessie Trail on the old canal path to Lexington, history, art, restaurants and shopping.

Our mission is to encourage you to experience a slower, quieter, more connected time with nature, away from the hectic pace of the modern day world.

Getting there

View a map of the location. If you are traveling by plane, the easiest route is to fly into the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport, which is a 45 minute drive from the retreat. Other options for getting to Heartstone Lodge:

  • Fly into the Albemarle Regional Airport in Charlottesville, Va., which is 1 hour and 20 minutes drive from Heartstone Lodge.
  • Fly into the Richmond International Airport, which is 2 hours and 20 minutes drive from Heartstone Lodge.

If enough folks are flying into Roanoke, I’m happy to organize a shuttle from the airport, and you can split transportation costs. Please note your travel plans on your registration form!

One final note

Body Positive Yoga Summer CampIf you’ve never been to a yoga retreat, it might seem intimidating, but I’m working extra hard to make sure this retreat is a safe, judgment-free, fun space for everyone! All bodies will be celebrated and acommodated, and you’ll be sharing space with other likeminded folks who are interested in self-acceptance, self care, yoga, nature, and body positivity. 

If you’re at all concerned that this retreat might not be right for you, or if you need special accommodations, don’t hesitate to contact me with questions.

This retreat is a chance for you to get away from it all, connect with your best self, and celebrate your unique body and soul with an intimate group of fellow body-positive allies. Meet your new BFFs this summer in the Virginia mountains!

Don’t miss out, I can’t wait to see you there!

-Amber

Join me and Dianne Bondy for a #yogaforall Twitter chat

Click here to view an archive for this Twitter chat.

Amber Karnes & Dianne BondyYoga teachers: Have you ever had a student in a larger body show up to your class, and didn’t know how to offer modifications for their body?

Yoga students: What do you wish your teachers knew about teaching yoga to your unique body?

Join me and fellow big-bodied yoga teacher Dianne Bondy, plus dozens of other yoga teachers and students for a Twitter Chat about making yoga classes more inclusive for all.

Let’s bring together our knowledge and experience to create a toolbox of resources to help make yoga classes more accessible. During the Twitter chat, we’ll discuss empowering language, avoiding triggers, and making the yoga classroom a safer, more welcoming environment for all. No yogi left behind!

When & Where

The chat will be held at 8pm Eastern (New York) time on Sunday, March 29. Join us at the hashtag #yogaforall on Twitter or use a free app like Tweetdeck to easily track the conversation at the hashtag.

 

Register here for the Twitter chat and get entered in a prize drawing – we will be giving away one spot in our highly anticipated, 5-week online yoga teacher training Yoga For All – Creating body positive yoga classes for all shapes, sizes, and abilities.

When you register, we’ll also send you a reminder about the Twitter chat the day before!

We hope you can join us! Please spread the word!

About the Yoga For All Teacher Training

Yoga for All Teacher Training with Dianne Bondy and Amber Karnes

Yoga For All – Creating Body Positive Yoga Classes for All Shapes, Sizes, and Abilities

Yoga students, are you in a larger body and find yourself frustrated in a class? Want your teacher to understand what’s going on in your body and offer modifications like the ones in this video? Or maybe you’re a teacher and just don’t know what to do with your larger students.

I’m excited to announce that I’m teaming up with Dianne Bondy to offer a 5-week online teacher training called Yoga For All – Creating Body Positive Yoga Classes for All Shapes, Sizes, and Abilities.

This course will teach concepts about empowering larger students, giving students agency to take back their yoga, and practical modifications for everything from sun salutations to savasana.

It’s eligible for CEUs from Yoga Alliance. Please, share with your yoga teacher or studio owner. Click here to save your spot and be the first to know when the Yoga For All Teacher Training launches.

Virgie Tovar on eradicating diet culture, the joy of moving your body, and Babecamp 2015

In today’s video interview, I’m pleased to introduce you to Virgie Tovar!

An image of Virgie Tovar. She is brown-skinned, fat, with long dark hair and short bangs. She lounges on a chair in a lush garden, with her head propped up on her elbow. She is wearing large sunglasses, bright pink jacket, burgundy skirt, and pearls. She's holding a champagne glass filled with what looks to be a mimosa. She looks fabulous.Virgie Tovar, MA is an author, activist and one of the nation’s leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, November 2012) and the mind behind #LoseHateNotWeight. She holds a Master’s degree in Human Sexuality with a focus on the intersections of body size, race and gender.

Virgie is a huge inspiration to me with her activism (not to mention her amazing fashion sense), and her book is a for real game changer.

In this interview, I talked with Virgie about eradicating diet culture, the joy of moving your body, her Babecamp 2015, and much more. Check it out:

Connect with Virgie

You can find Virgie around the internet at the following places:

Virgie Tovar.com | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

I hope you were inspired by this interview! If you have any questions for Virgie, stick ‘em in the comments below.

Body Positive Yoga Interview series

If folks are doing work around yoga, body image, or radical self-acceptance, I want to talk to them! If there’s someone you’d like for me to interview, let me know in the comments – who would you like to hear from? What should I ask them?

Body acceptance is a road less traveled

Author’s note: this post is a guest contribution by yoga teacher Michael Hayes.

Body acceptance is a road less traveled. The roadsigns are television, movies, people we emulate in magazines, advertisements that don’t say I am enough, but that I am too much. My goal is giving myself sustenance from the well I create with others. I think that’s the major difference between self-rule and being exploited. And this mixed message is a gift disguised as failure.

Just realize that smaller does not mean happier. That big, voluptuous, does not mean unhealthy. That the world needs many sizes, shapes, colors, languages, religions, perspectives. God likes variety. They all have their purpose, and that purpose is to make people happy.

Weight, wealth, and breeding puts people on a conveyor belt of success, creating this pecking order, this separation between the Haves and the Have Nots. The Haves use separation tactics to undermine the factions diversity of cultures. Black, white, men, women, fat, skinny, Jews, Palestinians, and everyone else. It is a mighty machine that captures our minds with those media roadsigns. The result is our collective unconsciousness. We, the hoi polloi, need to make a stand, even a small one.

My stand is Buddha Body Yoga because yoga and massage are my passions. I found my niche on my road less traveled. Some of us chose our road in defiance. Others are pushed to that road because of isms. We don’t fit into the cookie cutter of society’s mainstream illusions. We make it our own and find our community.

image of yoga students practicing a modified ardha chandrasana at a wall

As a black male living in the New Jim Crow world, in some ways I have been able to step sideways. I’ve been called a segregationist because my studio is only for large bodies. As I pimped my yoga wares and ideas to other studios, I found interesting subtleties like being offered timeslots that my demographics would never be able to make. I felt like my size, color, and the way that I approach my practice did not stand in the general norm of yoga practitioners. So I created my own studio. It was and is very hard to get to the people being told covertly and overtly that they are too big to do yoga.

The hardest thing for my students to do at the beginning is step through the door of the studio. They aren’t just opening a door, they are opening up and trusting me not to slam the door in their faces. Plus size people who are just coming to a space know that overtly it’s friendly but covertly unfriendly. Back in the day when I started doing yoga I would get a subtle expression from teachers that told me as a student that they had no idea how to work with me. When most people see those expressions and they go into to the room and they struggle and they really aren’t getting the help they need, they never come back. Yoga becomes an exercise, rather than an experience of self exploration.

It’s like finding the perfect pair of shoes only to find that they are too small and they don’t even make them in your size. What do you do? Some give up. Some get pissed off and put up a wall against the world. Some find a shoemaker to get the shoes made the way they want them. And those people start making shoes for people in the same situation. That is how community is created. That is how change happens.

I say thank you for being you. Welcome home.

Michael is streaming a free half hour class on Tuesday at 7:30 AM Eastern (New York) time. You can access the class at this link. Contact Michael with questions at mhayes212@gmail.com.

About the author

Image is of the author - Michael Hayes is a black man with a bald head, and he is grinning widely. He wears a black jacket, burgundy shirt, and a multicolored scarf.Michael Hayes, the proud owner of a “Buddha Body,” has yoga certifications in Sivananda, Allison West’s Yoga Union and Yoga Therapy by Dan Olansky. He has studied extensively in the following traditions: Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Thai Yoga, Om Vinyasa Yoga and Yoga Anatomy with Leslie Kaminoff. In addition, Michael has traveled regularly to Thailand to study with master teachers. His class will benefit anyone regardless of their individual anatomy, flexibility, age, or yoga background.

Michael has 16+ years of experience as a licensed massage therapist, 15 years studying and teaching martial arts, 14 years studying and teaching yoga, and a lifetime as a visual artist, using watercolor, charcoal pencil, and ink. As a performer of African and modern dance, Michael brought his love of dance together with his desire to facilitate healing as the staff massage therapist for the cast of Miss Saigon on Broadway and went on to treat many performers including professional dancers and Grammy winners. Michael became the staff massage therapist at the Bates Dance Festival 8 years ago, and currently holds this position. Learn more about Michael and his teaching at Buddha Body NYC.

Dana Falsetti on yoga teacher training, never giving up, and being your own best friend

In today’s video interview, I’m pleased to introduce you to Dana Falsetti, also known as Nolatrees online.

Dana is in New Orleans finishing her undergraduate degree, and has her sights set on yoga 24/7! You probably know her from Instagram, where she can be seen with her dynamic and challenging asana practice.

Dana is in vasisthasana - side plank with a variation where she grabs the toes of her top foot. She is dressed in brightly patterned leggings and a pink sports bra.

In this interview, I talked with Dana about her yoga story, yoga teacher training, never giving up, being your own best friend, and much more. Check it out:

Dana is super happy to announce that one of her favorite companies, Fractal 9, is starting up a sister company: Fractal 9 Plus! The new line launches this month and will feature curve-friendly designs, higher waistbands, and longer inseams on shorts. Use the code “fractal9plus” for 15% off your order!

Dana is in one-legged king pigeon pose. She reaches back behind her head and grabs her foot, which is touching her head. She is white with brown hair and dressed in purple patterned leggings and a black tank top.

Connect with Dana

You can find Dana around the internet at the following places:

YouTube | Instagram | Dana’s website

I hope you enjoyed this interview! If you have any questions for Dana, stick ‘em in the comments below.

Body Positive Yoga Interview series

If folks are doing work around yoga, body image, or radical self-acceptance, I want to talk to them! If there’s someone you’d like for me to interview, let me know in the comments – who would you like to hear from? What should I ask them?

Bad at Running: A Quiet Paradise

Author’s note: this post is a guest contribution by holistic health coach Sara Seinberg.

I sat on the couch for years. Decades. Rotating shitty couches from sidewalks and thrift stores and Craig’s List. Then somewhere in my mid-thirties I looked around my world and decided that if I wanted to enjoy the great life I was lucky enough to have built, I’d have to start showing up to care for the body that allowed me to experience my path. I’d have to get off the ding dang couch and move.

Image is from the perspective of gazing down at a tile floor. There is a pile of tshirts and a pair of running shoes.

I started running. This is a small miracle for many reasons. I wasn’t a former runner returning to a bliss of youthful endorphins armed with some kind of positive body memory. I didn’t have more than a smattering of friends who ran, nor did I have any evidence to support the idea that I might be actually be good at this activity that, for all its popularity, actually looked monotonous and punishing to me. I had finally made a practice of hauling my carcass out of the sack before sunrise to hit the elliptical at the super gay gym when a friend called me to ask if I’d move my bod off the machines and into the streets so I could do a Pride Run with her. Bernadine is a force of nature I never felt inclined to say no to, so that’s how it all started in 2009.

Since then my running has stuck with me. And my hunch turned out to be correct: I’m actually terrible at running. And I’ve done a lot of it. I’ve run on treadmills, beaches and avenues. I’ve run in Palm Springs, Portland, New York City, San Francisco, and Chattanooga, TN. I jogged through Rome, Boston, and outside my house on the quiet country roads of Leyden, MA. I ran through a civil war memorial park in Chickamauga GA, in the heavy hot morning air of Akumal, Mexico and down the hill to Greenfield, MA. I’ve done trots in Sudbury, Albany, Guilford, Pacifica, Gulf Shores, New Orleans, in the magical desert of Joshua Tree. And after six years, I can tell you I still really suck at it. I never get faster. My stride doesn’t really improve. I have not become graceful or efficient. Truth be told, it’s an inexplicable magical thing where somehow, I have not become competitive or decided to give a fuck. Doing something I’m shitty at has been one of the best things I’ve ever done at all.

Abdicating a sense of “improvement” has let me arrive for all the things I get from this practice that have nothing to do with the yardstick of accomplishment. I do not run to get better at it. I mean, I know I could get better at it. I could get faster for sure. But I don’t want to. I just don’t give a shit. I like the pace the world goes by at an 11- 12 minute mile. I like to look around me, listen to birdsong and watch the clouds skate out toward a horizon line. I often count my footfalls in meditation or watch my thoughts dip and roll along the pavement. I nod to fellow runners, smile, wave, and soak in the camaraderie of people I will never see again, linked by a common undertaking and citizenship of our bodies, of an endeavor. I like to wring out my bandana after a run, the salt and elemental water of effort enough of a medal for me.

An image of the author's face from the nose down to her chest. She is wearing a small necklace and a black and white patterned shirt.

My city running happens with no phone. The music of the town and my solitude among the humanity is the medicine. Plus, in a life of being constantly hooked up and plugged in, no one can actually find me without the phone. There is no email, no texts arrive, there’s no step counting machine to tell me I accomplished something, either enough or not enough, and no pace setter to inform me of my speed. It is just me, in this body, with a task at hand. I sometimes repeat Confucius on hills over and over,

It does not matter how slowly you go,

Only that you do not stop.

Knowing that it is the texture of the experience itself that is the mettle of this thing for me, this rejection of aspiring to do anything at all beyond the miles or the time.

This utter lack of end game is also the exact mechanism I need to notice the other gifts of my toil. I sleep better. My skin looks a billion times better. It makes me remember to drink more water. My moods are more stable and my self-esteem is higher. EVEN WHILE BEING A CRAPPY RUNNER! Goddess knows I love the irony that being a disaster in this venue raises my self-esteem. It changes the way I see my surroundings, infusing the world with more color, sound, symphony.

Image of a bridge over water, very gray

And running has given me the gift to appreciate the nature of ambition I have in other venues. It has helped me to make meaning for my world in a study of contrast. If I do this thing so often that I don’t need to get better at, what is that feeling of striving that rises up in me about writing or about love or about the presence of coaching? These things I do want to get better at forever? How is my undertaking of being a new watercolor painter so different, so much richer, than how I feel about the casual hobby of making ceramics? I notice the reaction in my body about all kinds of feelings because running has given me so much time to notice my body at all.

And isn’t that the biggest buried treasure of all? This pirated victory of having a new relationship to a body I have been at odds with for my entire cognizant life. At first I’d be running and the feeling of my sides jiggling and my thighs rubbing and my curves squished into the sausage outfit of the jog would bring me home in despair. Not just because of the judgment I placed on myself and how I had all this dumb patriarchal and misogynist psychic violence underpinning the most private and demanding relationship of all, but because of what that meant. How I would never be able to get out from under the pressure of a system that was so much bigger than us, me and my roly-poly vessel.

But I did and I do. It isn’t always and it requires consistency, but the more I move, the more it all falls away. The gratitude I have for this place comes right out of my pores some days with the sweat. Or just drinking strong black tea on a hammock on a Tuesday. Or watching my breath freeze at the gas pump because here I am, standing, driving a car, wearing a fabulous scarf and creating ice vapor clouds from my lungs, long since relieved of nicotine duties. Running makes me like it here more and more all the time.

Image of a foggy road stretching into the distance, cutting between 2 rows of trees

And being a shitty runner relieves me of so many fears about failure. Or not really relieves me of them exactly, but I see that my ideas about failure are deeply flawed. Failure is so commonplace, such a guaranteed outcome in the course of life, that agreeing to be bad at something and finding it has so many fundamental positives associated with it allows me to open up my curiosity about living in bolder and more expansive ways. It allows me to be a beginner again as an adult, overturning the common delusion that I know what is going to happen. It returns me to a peak experience of just wondering about things, of being an explorer and get dirty on the mudpit of daily life. In turn, this particular perk has built up my resistance to shame exponentially. I EXPERIENCE LESS SHAME. I never would have imagined this possible.

So give me a crappy run any day. Give me the awkwardness and the struggle. Give me the pain and the mental doubt and the terrible outfits. And with it I’ll take the keeping myself company. I’ll take the companionship of asphalt and rain. I’ll take the solitude and the curiosity and I’ll take the sunrise.

I will happily give anyone else the ribbon at the finish line to just finish at all.

About the author

Image of Sara Seinberg. She is white, wearing a rainbow headband, looking up at the camera, wearing a black jacket and orange headphones.Sara Seinberg is a Health and Creativity Coach, a writer, and artist who uses a holistic approach to support clients in their quests for health, wholeness, joy and truth. She has a dog called Gus who is a Taurus and has perfect eyeliner. You can find her at www.seinberghealth.com.