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“The Body, Politics” and the Vinyasa Vixen

Every day we have countless people trying to tell us how we should inhabit our bodies — how we should look, eat, exercise, behave, exist. As if getting these messages in real life and from the nagging voices at the back of our minds wasn’t enough, now we have to hear them every time we open social media and are met with self-proclaimed experts spewing unsolicited advice at us. Every year, as the New Year approaches, these messages grow louder and more demanding. We end up putting so much pressure on ourselves to transform into superhumans to slay the next twelve months that we feel guilty and disappointed when we don’t meet society’s impossible expectations. 

Enter Larkin Silverman, the “Vinyasa Vixen.” Fed up with this incessant messaging and eager to help students reject the toxic “new year, new you” mindset, Silverman designed the JanPlan course “The Body, Politics.” 

Silverman is a certified instructor for yoga, trauma-informed yoga, Barre Fitness, and Self Myofascial Release (SMR). She received her bachelor’s degree from Bard College in cultural anthropology & human rights and her Master of Science from the University of Pennsylvania. She currently teaches private and group fitness classes in Waterville and at Colby Rec. 

The course will look closely at concepts like “Body Neutrality” and work to recognize and dismantle diet culture. Throughout the course, students will participate in journal exercises and interact with various forms of exercise like Vinyasa Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Barre, SMR, and dance in a fun and experimental movement lab. 

“We’re going to talk about categorizing, cataloging, and controlling bodies within society — both in our own present lives and historically — and then we’ll contemplate our own experiences with our own bodies,” Silverman said. 

Silverman offers unique and thought-provoking insight into the “body positivity” movement and the concept of self-love: “I also think ‘self-love’ is different for everybody and every body. We can love ourselves fully and wholly no matter what, and sometimes a component of that love is agitation and resistance. As the course will explore, the mainstreaming of Body Positivity has meant that as beauty norms become more open, more varied folks get included. But, why is the goal more objectification and not its refutation?” she said. 

This perspective challenges the unreasonable expectation typically associated with self-love, in which people are told they should love every aspect of their body in its entirety at all times. It recognizes that love doesn’t mean constant admiration and contentment. According to Silverman, just like our relationships with our loved ones, our relationships with our bodies are occasionally going to include anger, frustration, and maybe even a little resentment. 

For those looking to craft non-toxic New Year’s resolutions surrounding exercise, Silverman suggests abandoning traditional metrics and instead adopting a growth mindset. “What if instead of shrinking or changing your body, you wanted to uncover and build new strength? What if you wanted to celebrate by adding to the landscape of your wellness (like by picking up a new hobby) rather than narrowing it with rigidly defined rules?” she said.

Developing a healthy relationship with exercise can be quite difficult, especially for those who have struggled with eating and self-image in the past. For this reason, Silverman highlights the importance of self-awareness, establishing boundaries, and knowing the credentials of the people you’re taking advice from. 

If you’ve ever felt under-represented, misunderstood, or excluded by the fitness world, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, Silverman doesn’t see the fitness world-changing on its own: “The fitness world cannot actually become more inclusive until the culture does, and while inaccessible public spaces, structural inequities, oppressive beauty and gender hierarchies, and explicit medical bias persist, we’ll keep having to contort within those narrow confines,” she said.

While this might seem disheartening, people like Silverman are empowering people of all shapes and sizes to experience exercise in a new light. Through challenging but non-competitive fitness classes, Silverman is working to change the societal perception of what it means to be an athlete. 

“The Body, Politics” is a non-credit course listed as JP197K. As of Dec. 4, there are still twelve available seats. For any questions about the course or Silverman’s practice, contact her at You can also visit her website at or find her on Instagram @VinyasaVixen.


~ Claire Campbell `26

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