Dolly Singh, 34, has gained something of a fan following online for promoting body positivity by showing that size is no barrier to mastering complex yoga moves.
“To say ‘You can’t do this because you have so much weight’, I don’t believe that,” Dolly tells AFP after completing her morning stretch in a Mumbai park in India.
Four years ago a doctor advised her to lose weight following an ankle sprain. Dolly, who is 150cm, weighed almost 90kg at the time.
She got a trainer and embraced the “whole frenzy of losing weight” but grew bored of running so she signed up for something she’d never done before – yoga.
“The first class I was thinking ‘Can I really do this because I have a big body?’. After two or three classes I realised people were looking at me and thinking, ‘Oh my god she can do this’. My body had a certain kind of stamina, of flexibility.”
Dolly, who works for a TV channel in India’s financial capital, soon realised there were limitations to group classes and sought the instruction she needed from videos online.
“We all have different bodies and if my teacher doesn’t have a belly, how will they know what the problems are of having a big belly,” she explains, laughing.
“I’m a big busted person and if the teacher isn’t how are they going to understand that when I’m doing a Halasana (plough pose) I’m almost choking to death!”
Dolly started filming herself to monitor her progress and then began posting clips of her yoga poses on Instagram.
Soon she was inundated with messages, mainly from foreigners at first but then from Indian women saying that Dolly was an inspiration to them.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by some people saying they would feel alienated in a room full of perfect yoga bodies, how they would feel that everyone is watching them.
“There’s an idea of not showing your body if you’re big bodied. You’re supposed to hide everything because its not appealing or it’s not something people like to see but that’s just something that’s been sold to us,” she insists.
The response hasn’t all been positive however. Dolly says she has been the victim of body shaming online.
“Indian men have not been encouraging at all. There are a lot of people who write very nasty comments. They would say something like ‘You’re just a fat blob, you look just like an elephant or bear, or you’re unfit or it’s because you’re eating so much food’.
“I completely ignore these things. You can’t fight internet trolls. I don’t know these people so why should it bother me.”
Dolly, who currently weighs 73kg, says she will continue trying to sell “a more positive body image” and “challenge notions of fitness and beauty”.
“I’m not aiming to have this thin figure but I am aiming to have a beautiful flow and make my body strong through yoga,” she says, smiling. – AFP
So today I understood what it means to “go viral”. Almost 10 different publications and portals, and friends tagging me in videos and articles that I have no clue about. My insta notification has been buzzing all day too. It’s a lot of appreciation and encouragement. I don’t know how to soak in all this or what does this entail in coming future. I just want to keep coming to my mat everyday with the same dedication. Rest shall just follow. A little more courage and a little more kindness.. #thankyou #goingviral #love #appreciation #feelingthankful #lovingthis #stayhumble #yogalove
I had planned to do my practice today morning before heading to Brugge , but snuggled way too long in the bed. And then it was time for breakfast in the hostel. Perils of travelling alone is that you never have someone to click your picture. But I managed to find a fellow Taiwanese traveller and we both clicked for each other and chatted a little bit about our jouneys ahead. Now it’s time for an afternoon nap in the park. #travelandyoga #traveltales #europeancities #traveleurope #brugge #meandmymat #anybodycanyoga #yourbodyisnotyourlimit #bodypositivity #yogalife #yogalove #stayhumble #havingfun