Do You Have to Be Thin to Practice Yoga? (Practice Tips for Non-Supermodels)
All the yoga ads show thin, fit women, but what about those of us with larger body types? Here are a few practice tips for plus-sizes…
While yoga is a great form of exercise for those of all shapes, sizes, and ages, many people feel insecure about trying yoga if they aren’t already super-thin and fit. After all, when you see photos of people doing yoga, they always look thin and trim – right?
Unfortunately, this marketing hype can prevent people with larger body types from taking up a wonderful form of exercise that could be very beneficial to their health. But don’t worry – one of the wonderful things about yoga is that it is so adaptable, so regardless of your weight, your age, or your fitness level, you can still enjoy the benefits of a regular yoga practice!
The best way to get started with yoga is to join a live class, where you can get hands-on instruction on proper form and performance of each pose from a qualified yoga instructor. If you aren’t in great shape right now, this can be pretty scary – especially walking into the class for the first time. But you likely won’t be the only overweight person there, and even if you are, the only one that will hold you back from doing yoga is you. The rest of your classmates could care less how you look as all of you are there for the same reason – to reap the many benefits of yoga – like improved fitness, greater flexibility, reduced blood pressure, less stress, and yes, even perhaps weight loss and an improved self-image.
Is There One Best Type of Yoga for Overweight People?
There are many different types of yoga and you may find that you prefer one type better than the others. However, because plus-size yogis may not be able to do some of the poses right away, or you may need props to modify how you do some postures, there is one type of yoga that you may want to consider starting with. It’s called Iyengar yoga. This type of yoga uses props like blankets, blocks, straps, harnesses and incline boards, thus making it easier to do some poses.
Helpful Yoga Practice Tips for Those of Us Who Aren’t Supermodels
As a plus-size person, these tips will help you get the most out of your yoga practice:
1.) Create a good stable base. Spread your feet until they are a comfortable distance apart. While many of the standing poses recommend shoulder-width apart, if it is more stable for you to go wider, then do so. Do what feels good for you and makes you feel stable and secure!
2.) Make yourself comfortable. You know your body better than anyone, so if a body part gets in the way while doing a pose, adjust the pose to suit your unique body type. A good yoga instructor may be able to suggest some tips that will allow you to be comfortable and stay safe without compromising the form of the pose in a way that could lead to injury.
3.) Use props. There’s no shame in your prop game! While you may not be able to touch your hands to your toes when doing the Standing Half Forward Bend pose, you can use a yoga strap and do the pose the modified way. If you have not used props before, ask your instructor to show you the best way to use the ones you need.
4.) Learn to love yourself. Some overweight people may have low self-esteem for a number of different reasons. Because yoga is non-competitive, it can be a great opportunity to connect with yourself – body, mind and soul. Not only will you reap the physical benefits of yoga, but you’ll find peace with yourself and learn to accept yourself for who you are – uniquely you. (This is truly one of the most wonderful things about yoga, and many yogis have reported increased self-satisfaction and greater inner peace and self-love after beginning a regular yoga practice!)
In most yoga classes, you’ll find your classmates don’t care who you are, what you look like, or if you can’t do certain poses. All of you are there for the same thing – their own yoga practice. The only person holding you back is you. So find yourself a class and get with it!