A Project of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition
By Melanie Klein
The “This is what a yogi looks like” campaign is a testament to that commitment by creating compelling, raw, and authentic imagery reflecting the full range of diversity among contemporary yogis in North America. We wanted to highlight and celebrate the faces, bodies and voices that aren’t always represented in the mainstream yoga dialogue— and challenge stereotypes in the process.
Gigi Yogini and I co-founded the Yoga and Body Image Coalition as a way to aggregate the community of voices committed to transforming the current yoga paradigm into a more equitable and inclusive model. The coalition posits a commitment to body positivity, diversity, and equity—and engagement in the work needed to bring these values to fruition. Working as a conscious community is the integral component to ensuring we meet these ends.
We are yoga teachers, practitioners, experts, educators, activists, writers, businesses, artists, nonprofit organizations, and body image advocates committed to developing, promoting, and supporting safe and welcoming spaces for yoga practitioners of every age, size, race and ethnicity, gender identification and sexual orientation, dis/ability and socioeconomic status. Our mission not only advocates yoga as an essential tool in personal transformation from the inside out, but also includes a critical social justice component by challenging industry leaders and media creators to expand their vision of what a yogi looks like.
Over two dozen yogis donated their time and came together in joyous community to bring this project to life. There was profound beauty in this gathering of individuals ranging in age from 9 months to 90 years old. It was a confirmation of our work and the spirit of this campaign—that we are enhanced and elevated by our relationships to others. And through this connection and solidarity with others, we are able to make a profound impact on our world.
Melanie Klein, M.A., is a writer, speaker and Sociology and Women’s Studies professor. She is a contributing author in 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics and Practice and is featured in Conversations with Modern Yogis. She is the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery + Loving Your Body, and co-founder of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition. Yogaandbodyimage.com