Amy Vaughn from MindBodyGreen wrote the following article called "6 Yoga Tips for Anyone With a Bigger Body".
In the yoga biz, the standard way to gain credibility is to be an
RYT-200. That means Registered Yoga Teacher with 200 hours of training.
Well, I’m an FYT>200; that’s a Fat Yoga Teacher at over 200 pounds.
I’m very conscious of the fact that there aren’t a lot of us. Two-thirds
of Americans are overweight or obese, but that statistic is not
reflected in yoga teachers or in yoga classes. I wish that were
The skinny (usually white) girl may be the picture
of yoga that marketers want to sell us, but in real life, yoga teachers
have never been anything but gracious to me. Sure, there have been a few
misguided attempts at unsolicited advice (“Have you tried
fasting/juicing/hot yoga/etc.?”), but I've always been welcomed with
Students, on the other hand, sometimes don’t know
what to make of me. Often there's a quickly concealed look of surprise
when they find out I’m the teacher. I can’t count the number of times
I’ve been tempted to blurt out, “I’m genetically predisposed to obesity
and I’m on a medication that causes weight gain! I go to the gym; I do
my cardio! I’m a vegan, for crying in the sink!”
But I don’t.
The way other people deal with being confronted by a yoga teacher who
doesn’t fit the stereotype is their own baggage.
The point is this: yoga
isn’t just for the thin and flexible. Anyone who’s open to it can
benefit from it. It can adapt to any and every body. If you're a
bigger-bodied yogi or yogini, it may help to keep the following in mind.
1. Take it easy.
to think that exercise needs to be fast and hard to be worthwhile. This
mindset has infiltrated yoga to the extent that the faster-paced vinyasa
styles have become the mainstay. However, one of the best things you
can do for your body is s … l … o … w ... d … o … w … n. Slower forms of
yoga improve flexibility and strength while balancing the nervous
system; plus, they flush the chemicals released by stress that cause
inflammation and weight gain. If you’re just beginning, look for
“gentle” classes. If you’re lucky enough to live near a studio offering
Yoga for Bigger Bodies or something similar, take advantage of that!
2. Follow your instincts.
The most important disposition you can have to keep yourself free from
injury and gain all the mental benefits of yoga is to listen to your
body when moving into and out of every pose. Every single body on the
planet is unique. Not all postures will work for every body. Plus,
there's no requirement for teacher trainings to cover the special needs
of larger bodies. Listen inward just as much as you listen to the
3. Think of your weight as a weight.
Keep in mind that if you’re in a room full of smaller people, you're
doing a lot more work than them. For example, in arm balances, I’m
lifting at least 50 pounds more than most other people in the room.
Don’t give yourself a hard time for respecting the needs and limitations
of your body. That’s the real work of yoga.
4. Use props.
You can always use straps to make your arms longer or blocks to bring
the floor up to you. In lunges, if your hands don’t reach the floor, use
blocks. When the teacher guides everyone into a bind and your hands
don’t reach each other, grab hold of your shirt or pants to find the
twist or stretch. If getting up from the floor is tricky business,
consider the ultimate prop and try a chair yoga class. In any situation
you encounter, don’t hold back from being creative. Determine the intention behind the posture: is it to build strength or to stretch a certain set of muscles? Figure out a way to make it happen. (*In Bikram class, feel free to use the ballet barre at the back of the room for any of the balancing postures. If you have trouble twisting your arms in Eagle pose, just grab your opposite elbows or shoulders. Always ask a teacher before or after class about any difficulties you're having and they will happy to discuss modifications with you.)
5. Find the right teacher.
Don’t waste your time in a class that doesn’t help you feel good about
yourself. Move on until you find a teacher you enjoy. Yoga should leave
you feeling refreshed and renewed, ready to face the world with clarity
and compassion, or at least a little more tolerance and patience.
6. Remember why you’re there.
Yoga is first and foremost a mental practice. The postures provide an
opportunity to practice staying present with our physical experience,
observing and accepting ourselves in this moment exactly as we are. The
process gives us the chance to exert control over our thoughts. For some
of us, myself included, the hardest part can be letting go of the
constant stream of negativity and self-badgering that wrecks us, taking
away our confidence and any sense of ease.
The mental practice
of yoga is demanding but it’s entirely worthwhile. We cannot be at peace
if we're at war with our bodies. Choose peace!
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com