An ankle sprain a few years ago led her to discover yoga. Now 34-year-old Dolly Singh, weighing 72kg, is India’s most famous plus-sized yoga practitioner who challenges body stereotypes on social media.
We caught up with the yogi after she walked the ramp at the recently-concluded Amazon India Fashion Week, where she was the showstopper for the brand Deivee, reports the Hindustan Times.
In an interview, Dolly tells us about battling internet trolls, diverse reactions from Indian men, practising in the open as a big-bodied person, and more.
Four years ago a doctor advised you to lose weight after an ankle sprain. How did yoga come into the picture?
Due to the ankle sprain, since my mobility was limited, I started off with functional training. The whole idea of waking up and doing something in the morning was pretty daunting in the beginning. I tried zumba, running, pilates. Running is the only thing I still do.
Then one day I stumbled upon a yoga class. The yoga teacher got really interested in teaching me, probably because for him also it was a new experience teaching a big-bodied person who could twist and turn and do all the postures with ease.
So when you have someone who appreciated what you are trying to do, it does become easier.
Did you learn yoga from a professional teacher?
I did go for a group class for almost four months. The teacher who I had started with was someone who would push me a lot, which helped me.
Post that, a new teacher came that was very traditional and couldn’t keep up with my enthusiasm. I also thought of private teachers, but being big-bodied, I didn’t know whether I could trust myself with someone and whether they would be good for me.
So after the quest for private teachers didn’t work out, I started running. I still run marathons, around 10 km.
Then after almost a year, I started going online and downloading videos, and I remember the first time, I was really overwhelmed, because it was like having a private teacher. It’s been a year and a half doing that and that’s how I practice.
What is your yoga schedule like? How much do you do every day? What all do you do?
I practice 5–6 times a week, sometimes even 7 times. Most of the time it’s generally after work.
My sessions are for around 75 minutes. On days when I know I’ll be at office for long hours, I practice in the morning or at office itself.
I have a yoga mat there and take an hour off in between while I do yoga in the studio or in the makeup room.
The bottomline is the practice is always there. It’s something I prioritise above a lot of things.
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