Making the Gym an Urban Idyll with Devaki of Curvy Girl Yoga

The Good Gym Guide Podcast • Series 1, Episode 2

This episode is with Devaki, the founder of Curvy Girl Yoga. In her classes, Devaki creates a dedicated, celebratory space for women sized 16 or more to practice yoga. She describes how she builds this environment with openness and humour, nurturing the relationships between those who’ve been attending for a while and welcoming any newcomers into that culture.

In the second part of our interview, she describes her ideal training space, taking influence from vastu shastra - a traditional Hindu system of architecture - and Scandinavian design. She talks about the relationship between the outside and inside, both in terms of buildings - softening the boundaries between indoors and outdoors - and bodies - in making sure we attend to both our physical and mental health.

When we did the interview, Devaki arrived with a handwritten map of all the ideas she’d had about this dream gym, and I just sat there and completely blissed out as she described it. It sounds good, doesn’t it?

I had a very clear mental image of the rowing boats on the lake on this parkland, in the city. A sort of wellbeing centre, where we can be supported in all of the interwoven aspects of our health. So many of the reasons for why we, with all our good intentions, don’t always manage to stay active, originate outside of the gym.

Most of us are balancing that responsibility to ourselves and our own health with other responsibilities to our loved ones, or work, or any of the other complicating factors that influence how we feel in our bodies. The idea of being mindful of that, and bringing professionals working in mental health and those working in physical health together, in the same environment, makes a lot of sense to me. What could come out of that collaboration? What sort of knowledge is there in that overlap?

Devaki also made me think about the small ways we can bring that into our practice as coaches, with movement practices based around gratitude and celebration rather than punishment, shame or guilt. Of course, there is a lot to unpick, socially, in order to allow that, but, through the existence of projects like Curvy Girl Yoga, we can see that it’s not impossible.

Devaki’s work

Episode links


  • The photographs above come from Devaki

  • Most other photographs on this website were taken by Paul Samuel White

  • Production support by Yas Clarke

  • Graphic design by Steph Weise