Plus-sized people can get moving and start feeling great by taking up yoga! For many with a high BMI or those considered obese with a BMI over 30, exercise may seem treacherous. The intense, judgy, and hostile environment of a gym is less than ideal for those intimidated by fitness. Plus, hardcore workouts like running may be impossible for those who have bad knees due to surplus weight, or for the extremely out of shape. Yoga not only strengthens and tones the body, but will help unite the body with the mind. Anyone who regularly practices yoga can tell you the health benefits are seemingly unlimited: less stress, greater fitness, and stronger muscles. Plus, yoga bleeds over into an entire lifestyle makeover: leading to smarter food choices, better sleep, and improved quality of life.
Gentle yoga is a great way for someone who has been immobile for years get back into a healthy lifestyle. Yoga might be uncomfortable for beginners, but is certainly far from impossible. Plus, the use of blocks and other yoga props, in conjunction with pose modifications, are particularly crucial for those carrying a little extra weight. Try doubling your yoga mat or getting an extra thick yoga mat, to support joints and make floor exercises easier. We also sell an extra wide, extra long yoga mat that we designed specifically for plus-sized people. Many people avoid yoga because they don't consider themselves flexible, or can't imagine twisting themselves up in pretzel-like positions with any ease. However, yoga is not about perfection. It's not about what the guy next to you looks like in a pose, but rather, a challenging way to stretch the body, relax, and feel good about yourself.
When looking for a class to take, you will want to look for something that is "beginner level" or "mixed level". If you attend a mixed level class, keep in mind there will be others there who are more advanced than you, so don't become discouraged. As far as styles, try gentler types of yoga: Hatha, Ananda, Iyengar, Restorative, Kripalu, Svaroopa, or Yin yoga are all acceptable introductory forms. If you try a class and don't like it, it may not be the right style or the right teacher for you, so try again. To get a better idea of what each style entails, watch one of our short yoga videos that demonstrate routines by style. If the idea of going public with your practice still freaks you out, Yoga DVDs make practicing at home an attractive option.
In the yoga world, it hasn't always been unconditional bliss and acceptance of those with a little extra weight around the middle. Yoga superbrand, Lululemon, has recently been criticized for their treatment (or more appropriately, lack thereof) of those in search of plus-sized apparel. The brand only manufactures up to a size 12, and the two largest sizes, sizes 10 and 12, are reportedly "not displayed normally" -- banished to the back of the store of left crumpled under display tables. Additionally, there is the preconceived notion that the ideal yogis is lithe, little, and willowy. Especially teachers. This is not always the case. Body weight and outward appearance have no correlation on your teacher's ability to lead an effective class or get you sweating. To test this societal stigmatization, yoga teacher Trina Hall voluntarily gained 40 pounds to "start a conversation about identity, self-image, and beauty."
cathy corkery Date 9/10/2013
Is that person supposed to represent plus-sized yogis?
happy baby Date 9/10/2013
Think she's a size 14ish? That's not plus - plus is like after 22 or something, right? (I have no idea.) But the point is - even at her non plus size - she is bigger than what I've been seeing in most of the classes in my city. And yet, NOT bigger than most women I see at the grocery store, for example.
Kathy LMT Date 9/11/2013
A round mat would also be a good choice.
Michelle Conrotto Date 9/12/2013
I do believe article and photo this is a step in the right direction. For some students just the idea of walking into a yoga room can cause anxiety and lack of confidence- regardless if someone is over weight or not as flexible as one might like to be. I have seen super skinny people still not satisfied with they way they look or not satisfied with the quality of their life. Yoga is a way to soothe and heal both the body and the mind. We are all human, different shapes, different thoughts, and this is why the world is fascinating and beautiful.
Laura Date 9/12/2013
I am a size 28, and I love yoga. I left it for a year thanks to lack of money and a host of excuses, and while I was gone, I took a lot less care of myself (in every way). Now that I'm back, my favorite teacher isn't teaching and I'm having trouble finding teachers who know what to do with me. Since I lost a lot of flexibility and fitness over the last year, I can't just do what I remember doing and assume I'll be fine. It takes teachers who are fully aware of the intention of each pose and can help students find the best way to achieve the purpose -- not the textbook pose. I think this is important for every body type and condition, not just big people like me. People with injuries, or longer than average limbs, or less cushion than the average person, etc., need sensitive yoga experts who can help them problem solve to achieve the ultimate goals of yoga practice.
Rebecca L'Abbe Date 9/14/2013
Thanks for introducing this excellent topic. I personally could care less what size the model used for this blog is as it is completely irrelevant. Please, please, please come to a yoga class if it appeals to you. Once you find the right teacher and setting, I can almost guarantee that you won't regret it. Yoga is so much more about the body. The current popular view of yoga as exercise done by willowy, flexible, 20 year olds is a gross disservice to the art and science of yoga. Take a look at the book "Yoga, A Gem for Women" by Geeta Iyengar. Ms. Iyengar is no skinny young thing and demonstrates gorgeous postures as well as genuine desire to serve women's needs for physical, emotional and spiritual development. Contrast her with Patricia Walden, a slim, tall women in her 60's with beautiful postures, who does the same thing. My own teacher is 80 years old with bi-lateral hip replacements and still going strong!
Defy our cultural norms, forget about age, weight and physical appearance and seek out yoga! FYI, I am a 57 year old tall, willowy, and blonde yoga instructor and can also feel categorized by my looks. Despite my appearance and the assumption that it comes easy to me, it does not. I have to work as hard as anyone, but the results are worth it and beyond measure.
Can you accept Lululemon and suggest an opportunity for entrepreneurs to open a shop that caters to plus sizes?
happy baby Date 9/14/2013
Laura makes good points. The Yoga instructor has to have an education that includes the intention of the pose and how to manage that for all body types and limitations.