218: Body Positive Yoga with Gillian McCollum

Body positivity as a social movement has been gaining traction in recent years. In yoga, we aim to empower individuals regardless of their physical weight or size, and focus on accepting all bodies, regardless of their physical ability, their size, their gender, their race, their appearance, as well as challenge the ways in which society presents and views the physical body – all elements of body positive yoga. Gillian McCollum shares more about body positive yoga, and how we can adopt a more accessible approach in our classes.

Gillian is an anti-diet food and body freedom coach and body positive yoga teacher. She came to yoga as a way to cope and find peace and freedom with food and her body, and since 2017, has been helping people get off the diet roller coaster and start feeling good in their bodies. Gillian describes her mission as helping women find lasting peace and freedom with food and their body. Through her group and private coaching sessions as well as Body Positive Yoga, Gillian aims to create spaces where all bodies are celebrated and respected, and to be particularly supportive for those who struggle with body confidence and self-acceptance.

What exactly is body positive yoga? What does it entail? Gillian McCollum answers these questions, and more. She explains why body positive yoga is a way to create accessibility in yoga, and shares what it means to create truly inclusive and accessible spaces for our yoga students. Gillian also highlights some of the challenges and mindset issues that we may have around sharing body positive yoga, and how we can start sharing more accessible yoga in our classes.

This episode pairs really well with next week’s episode about body positive yoga and how to approach yoga students with abundant bodies in our classes, so be sure to tune in next week as well.

Key Takeaways:

[6:33] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode – Gillian McCollum.

[7:44] What does Gillian do and who does she do it for?

[8:59] There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about the yoga world in terms of what yoga practitioners need to look like, or certain practices they have to follow. Gillian highlights a few of them.

“I have students and coaching clients who are terrified to even enter the space because they feel like it’s just not for them.” ~ Gillian McCollum

[11:46] What does body positive yoga mean?

“If this is the posture or the pose or this is the part of the body or this is the theme for today’s class, how can I take that and make access, make it accessible for these folks with these different injuries or conditions or whatever it might be and you’re only limited by your imagination.” ~ Gillian McCollum

[16:36] Do people who teach body positive yoga have to be in a larger body or teach people in larger bodies?

[18:30] What are some trainings on accessibility that Gillian recommends for teachers?

[23:46] Having a sample class is a great way to increase accessibility for people who may feel hesitant about trying yoga for the first time. How does Gillian offer sample classes?

[27:23] What is Gillian’s response to yoga teachers who are reluctant to do videos because they think they don’t look the part of a yoga teacher?

[32:51] What is the reaction that Gillian gets when she shares videos of herself?

[36:43] Shannon challenges yoga teachers offering 200hr Yoga Teacher Trainings to think about how accessibility can be included in these trainings.

[37:47] What does Gillian think needs to be included in a 200hr Yoga Teacher Training about accessibility?

[39:04] Shannon and Gillian discuss how making yoga accessible should come first, and everything else comes after that.

“Your message is bigger than yourself and your body.” ~ Gillian McCollum

[42:07] Yoga looks different for different people in different bodies, and even on different days, and we need to honor that.

“[Accessibility] needs to be the culture, not a component.” ~ Gillian McCollum

[44:02] Gillian highlights some of the misconceptions and preconceived notions that people bring to yoga.

“It not only shows people that you don’t have to fit the stereotype to practice yoga, but it gives other people the permission.”~ Gillian McCollum

[45:39] How can you work with Gillian?

[50:45] What is Gillian’s advice to yoga teachers who may feel afraid to put videos out?

[54:56] Your imperfections and flaws are what make you inviting, and welcoming – not your perfection.

[57:09] Shannon shares her key takeaways from this interview with Gillian.


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