Some of the YouTube channels Singh trained with are Yoga with Kassandra, BretLarkinYoga, Kino Yoga, and Heart Alchemy Yoga with Michelle Goldstein. Discovering these YouTube instructors was part-intent and part-trial, Singh explained. She decided upon the form of yoga—Vinyasa yoga—and tried out a series of teachers, deciphering their idiosyncrasies. “Generally, a male instructor has a very physical routine and requires more strength,” she explained. “A female instructor’s class is more about fluidity and flexibility.”

To track her progress, Singh started posting pictures and videos of her yoga poses on Instagram. But contrary to what most people think, she didn’t plan on launching a body-positivity movement. “I’m very selfish, I’m doing (Instagram) for myself,” she said.

Initially, her friends and followers used to be taken aback by her posts but now they just see a girl doing yoga, says Singh. Women have been unanimously supportive, flooding her with messages of encouragement. Some people who have themselves gained weight look up to her for confidence. There are a few detractors, though. ”Indian men have been really, really unkind saying ‘You look like an elephant’. Some of them are more creative,” Singh said. “But it doesn’t matter. If I get into (fights with) trolls, and reply or think about it, who’s going to do yoga?”

By documenting her progress, Singh has started to rally for acceptance of diverse body types. To push the uncommon visual of a heavy-weight yogini into the public purview, she started “bombarding” people with her images, hoping it will give people like her visibility and others “will start kind of accepting different bodies.”

She gives the example of black models and black hair becoming more accepted as they are given more limelight. “I post 100 images of myself saying this is beautiful, and people are buying it. Tomorrow, if I have three brands on me, I’ll be certified something gorgeous,” she said.

But just like jumping into the deep end of a pool is not a smart idea until you know how to swim, teaching yourself yoga using online resources isn’t the best starting point for absolute beginners, Singh says.

Going solo

Singh recommends joining a yoga class for a few months at least to explore the strengths and constraints of one’s body before migrating to online classes with different paces and intensities. A class will also lay the basic foundations on how to avoid injuries. Even when self-learning, it’s helpful to have someone around to assist you by holding your legs or supporting your back for the tougher asanas, she said.

Taking up yoga may be appealing but sticking to it can be hard when training solo. To motivate herself to do yoga daily, Singh started off by doing the same thing at the same time for 21 days—the time frame it apparently takes to develop a habit. “If you pick it up in 21 days, you have it in you to keep going,” she said.

And while Singh acknowledges that her technique or knowledge of yoga may not be technically correct without a teacher to guide her, she’s certain that regular practice on her own has done her good.

“A teacher might tell me everything you’ve learnt is totally wrong…and I will relearn everything. What he or she can’t take away is my strength, endurance, flexibility,” she said.

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