I recently started yoga again after having not done any yoga in 8 years.
The hardest thing for me seems to be getting over the fact that not many overweight people do yoga and the instructor often does not know how to help adjusting the poses to accommodate a larger body…
So is yoga for people who are overweight?
Just a small disclaimer: I am not medically trained and I am not a yoga instructor. This post is based on my personal experience and you should always take good care of yourself when doing sports of any kind. Talk to your physician and your yoga instructor about your situation and needs!
Is yoga for people who are overweight?
Yes – absolutely yes!
Is it easy to do with a larger body – not always, no.
Are there poses that I simply cannot get into because I just have too much body – Yes, you bet!
But I stand firm on the belief that yoga is for every one.
As time goes by and you do more and more yoga, your body will become more flexible and you might even lose some weight and that too will help you eventually getting into the full poses.
The hardest part? For me it is walking into class and staying…. And also staying in my body without seeking refuge in my mind.
But this is where yoga is so great, as it focuses on breathing, body awareness and positive meditation. You are in the right place!!!
Tips on how to make yoga work for you:
- First of all – you are wonderful and beautiful and amazing! You just gave your body a magnificent gift by deciding to do yoga! Good for you!
If you are having trouble finding the love for yourself that you need to feel good in a yoga class, try to read my story on that right here and my post on self-sabotage right here!
- The different poses in yoga are meant to create a stretch in one or more muscle groups. The stretch is the important part!
So what I do is, I ask the instructor to mention where the specific pose should be felt and then I modify the pose to feel that particular stretch.
This takes knowing a bit about the body – I’ll grant you that… However when I have been in doubt I have done it as best as I could (making sure not to hurt myself) and then talked to the instructor after class about ideas on how to adjust those poses in the future.
- Use your breath! Part of yoga is focusing on your breathing and timing some of your movements with this. This isn’t just to make you feel silly or to annoy you – it is a big help and you should use it as such.
When I am in a stretch and holding it, I use my intake of breath to loosen my body and when I breathe out I try to reach into the stretch just a tiny bit more.
- You need to think a bit about what you are carrying of extra weight when you do the different poses. Then give yourself some credit for the amount of time you can do them, even thought it might not be as long as other people in the class.
For example the Warrior poses are really hard for me – my arms get so heavy. However I do them and I stay in the pose until I can no longer do it and then just a few seconds more – and then I praise myself for doing it. I did good!
- Allow yourself time to adjust from one pose to the other. Do it as slowly as you need and take care of your body.
My instructor always says “walk or jump into the next pose”. So I walk and adjust my body in my time, with respect for the fact that if I do it too fast I could hurt myself.
- Some poses are just not for you right now! And that is OKAY!!!
I do not engage in shoulder stands for example, because it would do damage to my body if I put all of my weight on my shoulders like that. Again – this is about knowing your body and accepting your limits. You need to be okay with them!
- Adjust your body with your hands – is it in the way…? Try moving it…
- Try widening your stance. Many poses tell you to stand with your feet a hip-width apart – but if you are a bigger person you might need to widen your stance a bit more to make it comfortable. Ask your instructor to help you with this if you are in doubt.
- Know your weaknesses and work around them so you don’t hurt yourself. Ask the instructor for advise on this too – he or she might be able to recommend a different version of the pose that can help you achieve the goal.
I even have a few extra things with me to class to help me: (besides a mat, a blanket and lots of water!)
- A towel
I use this to not slip on the mat when I am sweating – either by wiping off the sweat or by using it to stand on as it creates an extra grip on the mat. (I stand my hands on it every time we do downward facing dog so my hands won’t slide)!
- A yoga block
This is great for those poses where you need to reach the floor but cannot. You simply use them to make the floor come to you!
- A small pillow.
I use this a lot – anytime I need a little extra support.
I put it under my knee when I do poses that put a lot of weight on one knee; I put it under my bum (to the far back) when I sit in the lotus position; I rest my forehead on it sometimes in child’s pose to bring the floor to me as my boobs will not let me get close enough to the floor.
- A small rope.
This is great for the stretches where you have to reach your toes while sitting down, make you hands meet behind your back or what ever you might need.
- A towel
- Smile and be positive – not just on the outside but on the inside most of all. Do not criticize yourself when you cannot get into the pose or if you need a small break.
You might need to avert your negative thoughts with this anti-self-sabotage exercise. Or you might need to talk to yourself mentally as if you were a small scared child – speak nicely to yourself!
You are doing great and you are doing your best as of right now. In a month you might be able to do better, but only because you are already doing your best right now! <3
Disclaimer: Again – I remind you that I am not medically trained or a yoga instructor. I only base this on my own experience and research in the matter. You should always talk to your physician and instructor before trying these tips out and always take good care not to hurt yourself!
So there they are – my best tips on how to make yoga work for you if you, like me, are overweight. Let me know what you think and please let us all know if you have other great tips on this – you can do both in the comments down below <3
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