By Rebecca Lewis @RebeccaSLewis

THOUSANDS take to Instagram to show off their complicated yoga poses – and Valerie Sagun is no different

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Videographer / Director: Ruaridh Connellan
Producer: Rebecca Lewis, Chloe Browne
Editor: Kyle Waters

Voluptuous Valerie reclines into the upward bow pose

Clad in colourful lycra shorts and a sports bra, she dazzles her 97,000 followers with headstands and splits.

But unlike the skinny and toned yoga stars that have made their fame on Instagram Valerie, from San Jose, California, weighs 240lb and is a UK size 22.

Serene: Valerie relaxes into the lotus pose

The 27-year-old said: “Some people are surprised by how I can move my body and I even get nasty comments on my Instagram.

“Some people may be offended by me but I accept myself and my body. They need to get over it.”

Eye-watering: Valerie bends her right leg up behind her back with considerable ease

Valerie had always been large and was even teased at primary school, but had never felt the need to change her body because of her loving parents.

She said: “My family has always been pretty positive about body issues so I didn’t grow up hating the fact that I was bigger.”

Big gal yoga: Valerie's impressive bends have won her a legion of followers on Instagram

Valerie was more interested in art than exercise at school and was more likely to be found spinning clay than in a spinning class.

But at university four years ago a friend dragged Valerie to a yoga class and she suddenly fell in love with the calming but challenging exercise.

She said: “What attracted me to yoga was just about being flexible. I wanted to move around easier and as I’m bigger I’ve always wanted to touch my toes.

Easy does it: Bridge pose with left leg up

“At the beginning I did struggle but I was actually pretty excited about it.

“Sometimes I would come from a school class frustrated and doing a bit of yoga would calm my mind and help with my anxiety.”

Valerie ran into a bit of difficultly at first as she found herself unable to twist into the unusual poses with her inflexible body.

Upward bow pose: Valerie slips easily into the complicated bend

And even now after four years of practise Valerie finds balances on her hands difficult because of the weight she places on her wrists.

But soon Valerie was overcoming barriers she never thought she would pass – first by touching her toes and then achieving complex poses such as a headstand and splits.

And when her friend asked her to be a maid of honour Valerie started to take pictures of her practise and post them on Tumblr to track her weight loss.

Work it: Valerie has learned to love her body
Valerie has always had beautiful curves

Though Valerie has always been happy with her weight she has tried to lose weight in the past.

And while she may indulge in Mexican food on a weekend Valerie likes to fuel her body with lean meals and clean food like vegetables and chicken.

What meant to be a private blog eventually blew up and won Valerie legions of fans from around the world.

But fame on Instagram under the moniker ‘Biggalyoga’ brought hurtful comments about Valerie’s weight and skin colour.

Head stand: Valerie is proudest of this gravity defying yoga pose

Valerie said: “I get fatphobic and racist people on my Instagram.

“I read their comments and I’m like, ‘How dare you say that kind of stuff about me’.

“They make really obvious comments like, “Oh you’re fat.’”

“Its more just frustrating at the fact that people still think this way that just because people are big they can just insult them for no reason.

“I haven’t done anything to them and I don’t know them personally so I don’t know why they want to give me their unwanted opinions.”

Yoga has helped Valerie achieve self-love

And when Valerie tried to reason with her detractors she found them unresponsive and unwilling to reason with.

She said: “It ends up me talking to a brick wall because they’re ignorant and not open to any new ideas.”

But despite the negative comments Valerie has inspired thousands on the social media app.

Her willingness to develop her yoga skills has won her thousands of admirers and Valerie’s colourful and skimpy outfits has earned her praise for her body-positive message.

Valerie is defying the internet trolls who have body-shamed her

Valerie posts videos of challenging poses and sexy selfies in the yoga studio mirror.

And her yoga practise and Instagram fame has helped her accept her bountiful body.

She said: “I’m happy with the way that I look. Its taken me a while to fully sit into my own body but I’ve gotten really comfortable with it.

“I think through yoga it helped me appreciate my body even more.

“Body positivity is important to me because its important to be accepting of your body as it is now and not have to worry about losing weight. Just be happy and accept yourself in the body that you have.

“Your body can do whatever you want it to do as long as you have the mind and determination to keep pushing yourself.”