This Body-Positive Yoga Instructor Wants You to Know That Anyone Can Do Yoga
Yazmin Harris on how she made it happen
Name: Yazmin Harris
Job title: Yoga instructor and freelance writer/content creator
Currently lives in: Toronto
Education: Two years of a Bachelor of journalism, Ryerson University
First job out of school: Hosting yoga and meditation workshops for beginners
Here are the first words you’ll hear if you take one of Yazmin Harris’s yoga classes: “Hi, my name’s Yazmin. I don’t give a shit if you can touch your toes with your fingertips. I am just here as a guide. You are the master of your own practice. You have full permission at any time to ignore everything that I say because you know your body better than I do. That being said, it’s imperative for you to realize that this is more than just a fitness class. This is the time and space for you to become better acquainted with your mind and body with an attitude of non-judgment and oozing compassion.”
This affirmation has become a cornerstone of Harris’s classes. A fierce body-positive advocate, she believes that you don’t require a specific body shape to love or embrace the practice—in fact, it’s been an essential part of her teaching ever since she started in the industry. She now divides her time as both a freelance health writer/content creator and a yoga instructor, teaching at Equinox, Ten X Toronto, Good Space, Yoga Space and her own home studio.
After dropping out of university, Harris began hosting yoga and meditation workshops geared toward beginners. They were for “anybody who at any point had felt too nervous or intimidated to walk into a studio because of perceived limitations on what they think they should be capable of before walking into a yoga studio,” she explains. The practice also taught Harris—a trained dancer who was also fairly competitive growing up—to be kinder and more compassionate to her body and herself.
Harris’s body-positive messaging is also a major part of her social-media presence. She uses the platform to promote the body-hair movement, employing words and images with equal candour. “My hope and the reason that I share so much of my body so vulnerably is to try to inspire or to show other people—specifically queer and non-binary and female-representing people—that we do have the power as individuals to decide for ourselves what we think is beautiful.”