Meet the Plus-Size Yogi Who’s Taking the Yoga World By Storm: ‘I Don’t Feel the Need to Defend My Body’
When Valerie Sagun began practicing yoga to better herself, she never imagined her blog and Instagram account Big Gal Yoga would help others as well.
By posting photos of her practice — which she’s been working on for nearly four years — Sagun, 28, has not only encouraged the yoga community to accept body types of all kinds, but she’s also inspired newbies to break out their mats.
“It’s something I never really intended to happen but it’s nice that it has happened,” the San Jose native tells PEOPLE. “I’m humbled by the fact that people are really enjoying the visual look of my yoga practice and that I’m inspiring them to try something they never thought they could try.”
With over 88,000 followers, Sagun — who says she’s never had a problem with body image — has received some negative comments about her unique look. But, she says, most of the feedback has been positive.
“I’ve never hated my body or thought I had to lose weight. I’ve mostly been fine in my bigger body,” she says.
Glad to be back home from my trip in Portland and Montana. Though I will be traveling to NYC real quick and heading back. Lots of travel time ✈ Words can't describe how much love I have for you guys! Sometimes I don't feel like I'm fully immersed into the community enough, but I still care about all of you! I'm excited that there are such generous people out there to help me out with my yoga teacher training journey! I also think that I want to take @amber_karnes and @diannebondyyoga's body positive course as well. Even though i'm a bigger bodied person and understand how bigger bodies work, it would be great to learn from some experienced amazing body positive yoga teachers! Also loving my new rad sea creature leggings from @personalrecordofficial ! Glad that her shop has finally launched and she's having great business! Leggings by @personalrecordofficial 🐚 Mat by @laviebohemeyoga 🌼
“I don’t feel the need to defend my body but I want to have a conversation about it,” she adds. “I’m trying to normalize the image of bigger bodies in any kind of media.”
And with so many followers, Sagun has decided to elevate her practice by becoming a yoga instructor. She’s raising money for the endeavor with a GoFundMe page.
“I didn’t aspire to become a teacher but a lot of people have been wanting me to do it,” says the recent graduate of San Jose State University. “So by getting help from the community, I can give back as well.”
—Ana Calderone, @anacalderone