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."