Featuring Andrea DiMaio from the US

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Written by Andrea DeMaio
Edited by Justine of Just Yoga


Hello, I’m Andrea DiMaio and I’m in my mid forties yet feel like I'm in my early thirties. I live in a town called Falconer which is in the state of New York in the US. It is really thought-provoking for me to sit down and reflect on my life and my yoga journey. I feel like it’s been all over the map and I thank Just Yoga for this opportunity to get me to sit down and just recollect it all.
I had always been at war with my body, from my childhood, young adulthood and basically all the way up until my first year of my forties.
I have tried to contort it; starve it and sweat it, all in an attempt to taking up less space. I went on practically every diet that existed and I would spend long boring hours at the gym on the elliptical machines and treadmills. I bought all the pills and the shakes. In all actuality I wasn’t very large as a child and even up into adulthood. I just didn’t fit what society said I should look like. I know I am not alone in this experience.

 

Currently, I am a yoga teacher. Actually, I am a new yoga teacher, and also the founder of an inclusive outdoor adventure and movement community, by the name, AmpleMovement. I also work for a women’s adventure travel company which has been paused due to the global pandemic. My first twenty years of being an adult, I was a dog behaviour specialist and a master dog groomer. I retired from that in 2019. I don’t miss the work but I really do miss the dogs.

I accomplished my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) in the spring of 2019 but have been practicing yoga on and off since 2007. I practiced pretty regularly for many years and then cycling took a front seat in my life. In 2015, I was struck head on by a van while riding my bike. That event would eventually bring me back to my mat. Fast forward to my recovery process after my bike accident, I had a lot of time to think and it made me realize that being in a larger body may have actually protected me from having more serious injuries
I started looking at my body as the home for my soul instead of something I had to change. I started to appreciate it a bit more.
Once I started feeling better, I decided to go to some gentle yoga classes to work on my physical healing. As my body welcomed the strengthening and stretching, my mind and spirit welcomed this new inner peace. I was starting to realize that maybe I was enough in this body, the way that it was. I continued practicing and getting stronger. I started actually inhabiting my body because we were becoming friends. The quote by Nayyirah Waheed became my north star: “and I said to my body. softly. ‘I want to be your friend.’ it took a long breath. and replied ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.” I felt this to my core. I started taking up space. I started feeling free.


It was around this time that I started following larger bodied people hiking, doing yoga and just living their lives unapologetically on social media. It was refreshing to see people that looked like me doing these things. I vividly remember finding a video of a plus size yoga teacher teaching poses to fit larger bodies instead of the other way around. As I watched her, I knew that I could also become a yoga teacher.
I knew that I had to become a yoga teacher because I just wanted to make space for people who didn’t see themselves represented in the mainstream yoga world. I wanted to create a container for them to maybe become friends with their bodies too.
I want people in larger bodies, in disabled bodies and other marginalized bodies to experience this idea that they are enough exactly as they are. Everyone has their own journey to go on, but I just wanted to suggest to them a different path, the same as I was shown. I made the decision to go to teacher training and made that dream a reality. 

Today, I do try to fit yoga in daily but sometimes it’s just for three minutes of meditation as that may be all the free time I have. I try to practice my yoga off the mat in the form of social justice and work in my community. I often spend a little time on my mat after each of my four classes I currently teach on Zoom. I do want to keep teaching on Zoom because it’s just so accessible for many people who cannot make it out of their homes for lots of different reasons.


The poses that bring me the most joy and release are Ardha Chandrasana (half-moon pose) for the expansion, grounding and strength of it and Prasarita Padottanasana (wide-legged forward fold) because of the stretching in the legs, the release of the lower back and the inward, calming turning of the mind. I struggle with inversions, both because of the chatter of the mind and fear of going upside down and because having a larger chest, makes some inversions very uncomfortable. I have definitely found ways to work with different variations of headstand poses by using props in my practice. I love using props and will always use props.

I thank this ancient practice of yoga and the teachers before me for helping me find freedom. I thank the indigenous teachers of the lineage in South Asia for sharing the tools of yoga with the world. I thank you, the readers for allowing me to tell my story and journey with yoga. I am so grateful for this practice and I hope that my story is able to motivate you to consider taking up yoga.

Peace, peace, peace
Andrea DiMaio

2 comments

  1. Great article. Im very happy to read about a plus size person doing yoga

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading the article. Andrea DiMaio is a real inspiration.

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