Mandy Woodworth

BEFORE YOGA: I have never been the type of person that enjoys exercise. I like to work outside in the warmer months, but I was by no means a physically fit person. I was in my early 40’s, overweight, not happy with my job and in not too stable mental health when I found yoga quite by accident. My best friend decided she wanted to try yoga and took me along for the ride. We signed up for a four-week yoga 101 workshop. I can’t express how much I didn’t want to go. I knew I would get the side eye for being fat. I didn’t have the right clothes. I wasn’t fit. The list of excuses was endless. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I gathered up my mat from Walmart and went to the studio for that first class


Pretty quickly I realized nobody cared what I looked like. Nobody had time to. We were all just trying to stay upright. I learned that the struggle to be present on my mat and move mindfully gave me an hour and fifteen minutes of peace anytime I showed up to practice. For someone whose brain is never quiet, that is a Godsend.

I also figured out I was way stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. This body that I belittled for so many years because I thought it wasn’t beautiful is strong and healthy now because of yoga. I can look at myself with love. I have moved on from believing I’m not beautiful because I have thick thighs. I am beautiful regardless.


I became teacher because I wanted to pass on some of the strength and peace I’ve gotten from yoga. I hope people will look at me and think to themselves “If she can do yoga, I know I can do yoga.” I love to see someone surpass their own expectations of what they can do. That, more than anything, makes me excited to keep teaching and practicing yoga.