It is an absolute myth that those with bigger bodies cannot practice yoga. People practicing yoga do so in all shapes and sizes. Although those with a smaller body size have an advantage over some of the poses, a yoga journey is possible most people. By simply slowing down the pace and by modifying some of the poses, overweight people can also get the advantages that yoga offers.
- Is Yoga Good for Plus Sized People?
- Yoga as a Beginner – What to Expect
- Set a Primary Goal
- Yoga Styles for Larger Bodies
- Are there Yoga Poses and Modifications for Curvy Beginners?
- Private Yoga Classes
- Yoga for Weight Loss
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Words
Is Yoga Good for Plus Sized People?
By practicing yoga, you can get your body into alignment. This in turn helps alleviate joint pain. Added to this yoga also helps relieve stress and builds muscle tone as well as strength. It also helps you become more flexible.
So, the answer is a definite yes, yoga is good for plus sized people.
Yoga as a Beginner – What to Expect
If you are doing yoga for the first time, it may feel a bit awkward. Do not let this bother you too much. Most things we try for the first time does feel a bit funny. Think of having to drive a stick shift car. Nothing makes sense the first time, but after a while you drive the car without thinking about pushing in the clutch to change the gears.
Some yoga poses are a bit more difficult to do than others. The best thing to keep in mind is not to try and perfect it the first time around. The poses that some people do so effortlessly also took them time to practice. The idea is to get it sort of right and to increase / get better slowly and incrementally over time.
Yoga is journey, not a destination
Set a Primary Goal
People do yoga for all different reasons. Some do it for the spirituality, some for inner peace and mental health, some for the flexibility it offers and others to compliment the sport they are doing.
As an overweight beginner, you may be wanting to do it for the above or other reason(s). Whatever your reason is, remember to take it slow and gradually increase the types of poses, the stretches, and the time you do it for.
Having a positive experience should always be the norm
Knowing your primary goal will help steer you in the right direction and will also help motivate you when you feel you need some.
Yoga Styles for Larger Bodies
There are many different types of yoga styles. Some are more intense (focusses on cardio) than others. A style like Vinyasa Yoga for instance may not be everyone’s cup of tea. As a beginner, instead of focusing on a style of yoga you want to do, rather try a few poses. The great thing is that if your body type is not a stick figure, you can still do the poses, with some variation.
Are there Yoga Poses and Modifications for Curvy Beginners?
Some poses just don’t work too well if you have a unique physique. A common challenge is when your belly gets in the way. By modifying how you do some of the poses, you can get the asana to suit you.
Following are some examples, as shown in the video above.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
The child’s pose is a resting asana and a kneeling pose. Traditionally this pose has your knees together in a kneeling position and your body bending forward. If you have a bigger body though, your belly tends to get in the way. A common way to overcome this is to keep your knees wider. Having a blanket on your yoga mat will also assist in making this pose easier.
Depending on the size of your body, just resting your elbows and forearms on the mat may be a good enough variation for this pose. If you want to attempt to do the pose more traditionally (with your head down) you could either stack your fists or make use of yoga blocks to rest your head.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
The mountain pose is a standing pose. It forms the basis of many other standing poses. This asana helps strengthen your knees, thighs, and ankles.
The really nice thing about his pose is that not too many parts of your body get in the way.
Cat / Cow Pose (Chakravakasana)
Doing either the Cat pose or the Cow pose or the transition are more poses that are easy for overweight beginners.
Downward Facing Dog to a Lunge
This one is not so much a pose, as a sequence. When you are in the downward facing dog position, your teacher may say that you walk in. What this basically means is that you should put your feet in between your hands.
Having a tummy in the way presents a challenge.
To overcome this obstacle, simply bring your hands inward (towards each other), lift your hip and step your left foot on the outside of your hand. By extending your fingertips you will also create more space.
This way your belly does not pose a hinderance anymore.
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Traditionally with this pose you sit flat on the mat with your feet together. You then bend forward. The challenge here though is your belly tends to get in the way. This causes you to just feel your belly in the way, and not feel any stretch.
To overcome this obstacle, you can open your legs, with your feet apart (about the width of your mat). This will allow space for your tummy to go in. You will now get the benefit of the stretch, feeling it in your hamstrings and your back.
Private Yoga Classes
Sometimes attending private sessions at a yoga studio may seem like an attractive choice. The benefit here is that you get a yoga instructor to help you on every single aspect. If they have experience with people with bigger bodies, even better! The downside though is that this is most likely going to cost a lot of money.
Another option, if you are time poor or prefer not to do yoga classes is to do yoga at home or wherever you feel comfortable. One option could be to do a course called Project Yoga. It is a personalized yoga program, where you can do your yoga exercise at your own pace.
If you are interested, you can read my full review of Project Yoga here.
Yoga for Weight Loss
Although not traditionally a primary weight loss option, yoga is a great way to shed a few extra pounds. One way is to do Hot Yoga or Vinyasa, where there is a lot more emphasis is getting your heart rate racing.
For more benefits of hot yoga, check out this article on Hot Yoga Benefits for Women.
Another is to do a yoga program designed for weight loss. One that is specifically designed for women, is Yoga Burn. This program was designed by the famous Zoe Brae Cotton. She uses a thing that she refers to as dynamic sequencing. If you’re interested, you can read my full review of Yoga Burn here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Determining which is better between yoga and gym depends on what you want to get out of it. Gym is good if you want to build muscles and strength and is also exceptionally good to get you fit. With yoga you can also build strength to a degree, but you also get the mental benefits of relaxation and everything else that goes with it.
Yes, it is. With some of the traditional poses, there are a few challenges. Modifying the asanas though allows you them in a way that suits your body and abilities. By doing yoga, you align your body, become flexible and tone your muscles.
Yes, you can. Yoga is a wonderful way to lose weight. There are yoga styles (although not traditional) like hot yoga or Vinyasa that focusses on getting your cardio racing. There are also programs designed specifically for losing extra weight while doing yoga. An extremely popular one is Yoga Burn.
Being plus sized and a beginner does not mean that you cannot do yoga right away. The great thing about being able to do yoga at home (and learn it by yourself nowadays) is that you can go at your own pace. Although some of the traditional asanas poses a challenge, there are modifications you can do to suit your body.