This Plus-Size Yogi Doesn't Practice Yoga to Impress You, She Practices Because She Can

dana falsetti yogi yoga

Twenty-two-year-old Dana Falsetti found herself in the middle of a social media blitz when folks outside of her yoga community caught wind of her Instagram account, which features some seriously impressive poses. As a plus-size woman, Dana can hold an intense forearm stand with the best of them, which is what initially had people talking.

Advertisement

But contorting her body in ways most of us cannot isn't the message Dana wants to convey.

"I understand that all of these publications want the thing that’s going to grab people’s attention," she tells The Stir. "I get it. It’s shocking to see a fat person looking strong, but for me that just happens to be what my practice is like; that’s not necessarily a reflection of anything I’m saying. I could be in Warrior One or a low lunge and saying the same things. But that’s part of the process for me. I come in and I practice. I do have a pretty rigorous physical practice because that’s just what works for me. That’s not necessarily true for everyone else. It is frustrating for me when it's just like, 'Look at the girl in this crazy pose.' That’s not the point at all."

In fact, showing off her mad yoga skills wasn't the point of Dana's Instagram account to begin with. When she started posting photos, the point was to track her progress and check to see if her alignment was correct.

This West Coast adventure (an understatement) is coming to a close, but I have some workshops coming up that I'm looking forward to! They are a mix of inversions, arm balances, and fundamentals. Always open to all levels, all beginner friendly. If you feel like you want to attend but don't feel ready yet, that means you should come. All you have to do is show up and bring an open mind. You can sign up through the link in my bio! Upcoming Workshops: Alexandria, VA (sold out). New Orleans, LA. Philadelphia, PA. Denver, CO. If I'm not hitting a city near you yet, you can always practice with me at home on @codyapp! I'll be announcing many more workshops as the year progresses. Photo by @brookemichellej. Bikini by @aerie.

A photo posted by Dana Falsetti (@nolatrees) on

Dana explains that she came to yoga not as much as a way to lose weight, but more as an outlet to change her perspective on her own life, which had been filled with a negative attitude of "I can't."

"I really just felt unworthy my entire life without realizing that’s what I was feeling," she says. "I was young and not aware enough to recognize those things. I was always heavy and everything was an excuse not to do something. I was trapped in that mentality because I didn’t believe that I was worth living a happy life and doing things I wanted to do."

As her Instagram following began to grow, Dana noticed something very interesting. There were obviously a lot of people who were feeling the same way she did.

"For me it has been the process of understanding my worth, and as I continue to share that message I’ve realized how many people have been walking around feeling like shit all day," she says.

After BuzzFeed approached her for a story, Dana says the feature produced a noticeable one-time spike in her number of social media followers, proving to her that more people needed to hear her message and that there was really something to her journey.

More from The Stir: Body-Positive Trainer Resolves to Not Change a Thing -- All the Yes!

Now she travels as a yoga instructor and teaches classes around the country. But this wasn't the path she had initially considered for herself, although it has definitely proven to be a fruitful one.

I didn't start practicing yoga to lose weight. I didn't start to put my leg behind my head or to contort my body into crazy shapes. I didn't do it to get a good workout. Coming to the practice with that mindset is simply flawed. In the midst of the media madness, some of the truth has been lost. Everybody wants to see the fat girl in a flashy yoga pose, I get it. But here's what's up - I'm not a monkey or a contortionist. I'm me. I practice yoga because it is the first and only thing I've found that has given me the space to see myself as I am. I didn't think I was worthy of happiness. A lot of us feel like that and it shows in different ways. For me, it looked like 300 pounds and an eating disorder, among other things. For others it looks like varying forms of addiction, depression, anxiety, and fear. I lived with all of these things and didn't even realize it. The only thing I've ever wanted to get across is that you are absolutely allowed to love yourself. In any body, any situation, at any time. And you can do that while moving towards a healthier place in body, mind, and spirit. I'd rather go through my day with my head held high than staring down at the ground. We all deserve to feel that kind of love for ourselves. I don't care if you're 5 pounds or 500, you're a person and you're worthy of all good things. Don't forget it. Photo by @cuerebecca

A photo posted by Dana Falsetti (@nolatrees) on

"I never wanted to be a teacher necessarily. I never had that intention. What happened was people on Instagram started asking me, 'When are you going to come here? Do you teach? Where can I take your class?' and that’s what sort of encouraged me," says Dana. "It was good timing. I had just graduated from school. I graduated in May. All of this was starting to grow around that time and it seemed like such an obvious open door right in front of me, so I was like, you know what, it’s risky, I’m a control freak, it’s a ballsy move to not jump into a salaried job or something like that, but I went on a whim and did my yoga teacher training and then immediately started traveling and teaching, and it’s worked so far!"

So what can you expect from Dana's class? A pat on the back for getting there, followed by a pretty humbling experience. She means it in the best possible way, so that students can hopefully gain their own life-changing perspective through their practice.

"Honestly, when I teach classes my biggest thing is for my students to just try," she says. "If you’re someone who is bigger-bodied or you’re so nervous to go, just being in the room and sitting down on the mat is 90 percent of doing it because that’s the first big mental hurdle."

Dana chooses to emphasize that there's no pressure, no matter whether she's teaching inversions or a forearm stand.

"I think the thing that a lot of teachers sort of miss is that I’m kind of there to break down everybody’s ego," she says. "It is meant to be a humbling experience. I feel like at this point I’m teaching yoga, but I’m also teaching life’s faith and patience. To believe in yourself enough to show up but without the expectations. We’re so defined by physical things, and this is why this is so tied into this body-positive movement for me, because it doesn’t matter if you’re 300 lbs or 150 lbs or if you can do the headstand or if you can’t -- everyone is allowed to try."

Now that's a message worth repeating.

 

Images via nolatrees/Instagram

Read More >