HealthLife & Style

Exploring the Transformative Power of Bear Yoga with Scottee

Hey there, fellow Bears! It’s time we talk about something that’s been creating waves in our world – Bear Yoga. You read that right! Yoga is more than just stretching and posing; it’s a blend of physical, mental, and emotional well-being. And of course it’s not just for the skinny folks. So, let’s dive in and explore how yoga can be a transformative force for our world!

I’ve been keeping an eye on Scotee‘s social media journey for a while now, and in my view, he’s become a trailblazer in the world of yoga for larger bodies. So I sat down with him to discuss his perspective and the transformative power of yoga.

He began his journey in 2017 while creating a dance show centered around fatness. “I got four strangers who had never danced before to create this dance show with me,” he shared. As the show, “Fat Blokes,” took off, yoga became a crucial part of Scott’s routine – not just for preventing injuries, but also for the moments of stillness and self-reflection it provided.

The whole thing quickly evolved into a profound appreciation for the holistic benefits of yoga. As someone living with mental health challenges, Scotee discovered solace in the practice:  “I started reaping the rewards of that as somebody that lives with mental health presentations, that offered me some space of calm, some space of reflection.” For Scott, yoga isn’t just about physical prowess; it’s about self-discovery and nurturing a sense of community.

Inclusivity is a big part of his teaching philosophy. Have you ever felt like traditional yoga classes just don’t get us? I did feel that way, that’s why I asked Scottee:

Are there any unique challenges that gay bears face in yoga classes, and how can instructors create more inclusive spaces?

“Fat people are often not accommodated for in yoga practice.” This issue has led many individuals to quit or (if they were lucky enough to know about them) seek out instructors like Scott.

For Scott, it’s not just about identifying challenges – it’s about finding solutions and making yoga more accessible for everyone. “I think the biggest thing that I do is make accommodations for people’s bellies,” he explains. Allowing his participants to embrace their bodies Scotee seeks to foster an environment where everyone can feel comfortable and welcomed.

Inclusivity in yoga isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity. So, how can we create more inclusive spaces for gay bears and other individuals who might not fit the traditional yoga mold?

Scottee challenges the notion that yoga must look a certain way and therefore he applies a queer approach to the practice:

“Queer fitness and wellness spaces often reflect popular queer culture, which tends to prioritize certain body types and overlook the needs of fat folks.”

This disparity can leave many individuals feeling excluded and unseen, even in spaces that claim to be inclusive. “When fat folk use props to support their bodies in practice, those are rarely understood by teachers.” Online classes taught by fellow fat teachers often provide a more nurturing environment, but there’s still a long way to go in making queer yoga spaces truly inclusive. His philosophy is that to transform queer yoga culture, we need to move away from the idea that wellness is about becoming something else—thinner, stronger, or more flexible.  “I’ve been doing yoga for seven years, and I’m not thin. That’s not my ambition. My goal is to spend time with myself and think about my impact on the world.”

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Then how can yoga help bears cultivate self-love, self-acceptance, and a positive body image? I wondered.

“Yoga allows you to engage with your actual body, the actual geography of your body.”

In a world that constantly bombards us with messages about how our bodies should look, yoga offers a refreshing counterpoint. By focusing on the truth of our bodies rather than societal expectations, Bears can begin to challenge negative self-perceptions and embrace their unique shapes. “You realise you don’t take up all the space,” Scotee shares.

Through consistent practice, Bears can nurture a healthier relationship with their bodies and develop a more positive body image.

So, why should Bears consider embracing yoga?

Scotee emphasizes the importance of recognizing and accepting your feelings of intimidation or hesitation: “A lot of European practices perpetuate this idea of what a yoga body looks like.” It’s no wonder that so many of us feel hesitant to step onto the mat! These fears are a product of the narrow image of yoga that’s been presented to us. Scotee recommends seeking out teachers who embrace and celebrate diverse bodies. Teachers like him and others, including Lucy B. Yoga and the inspiring Jessamyn Stanley, are carving out inclusive spaces. When you find a teacher who looks like you and understands your experiences, you’ll discover a sense of belonging that can transform your practice.

If you’re still feeling unsure, Scotee suggests starting with an online class or chatting with friends about their experiences. And above all, remember that you’re part of a community that’s navigating this journey together.

As we wrap up our conversation, I can’t help but feel inspired by his vision for a more inclusive world through the practice of yoga.

“Could you imagine if everybody tried to practice this?” Scotee asks, his passion evident. “If everyone tried to practice a kind, caring, and conscious life?” Imagine the impact this could have on the LGBTQ+ community and beyond!

Yoga is an invitation to listen and connect with ourselves on a deeper level, to move through the world with intention and grace. So, as Scottee encourages us, let’s view yoga as more than just a workout; let’s see it as a work-in – a powerful tool for personal growth and societal change. So let’s roll out our mats and embark on this journey together, one breath at a time.

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Beltran Horisberger,

Beltran Horisberger, originally from Paraná, Argentina, immersed himself in rugby from a young age. During his university years in Buenos Aires, he came out as gay, navigating the challenges of aligning with the jock stereotype while embracing his true identity, ultimately emerging as a sports activist. Currently residing in Barcelona, Beltran wears multiple hats as an LGBTQ+ activist, journalist, gogo dancer, and content creator. His advocacy extends beyond rugby, actively contributing to Panteres Grogues in Barcelona, promoting inclusivity in sports. Beltran has served as a spokesperson for the UN's Spotlight Initiative campaign, advocating for violence-free masculinities. With a wealth of experience in LGBTQ journalism on Argentina's national TV, including hosting segments on Altavoz, he has recently co-hosted Scruff Latinamerica's Podcast. Additionally, he runs his own YouTube series, Unicornio de Troya, featuring interviews with activists and change-makers. Beltran has contributed articles on activism, body positivity, and new masculinities for digital magazines worldwide. Simultaneously, as a gogo dancer and performer, Beltran has graced stages globally, participating in iconic bear community events and international circuits in cities like Barcelona, Milan, Athens, Luxembourg, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Fort Lauderdale. Beyond dance, he engages as a BDSM performer, dragqueer , and model for body-positive fashion. Beltran leverages his diverse experiences to champion inclusivity, education, and dialogue within the LGBTQ+ community.