We’ve all seen her. The smiling blonde, super-sexy, super-toned girl beaming on the cover of Women’s Health magazine or the like. Decked out in her yoga pants and tank top, we’re all just dying for a body like that. But the truth is that many of us don’t fit that mold. In fact, if you look around most yoga classes, you’re likely to see a few plus-sized bodies. And one of them might be yours. If so, it’s wise to remember that our larger bodies work a bit differently. And there are a few tips you should bear in mind.
Intense, fast workouts aren’t the only way to exercise. And while the quick paced classes of vinyasa are becoming more popular, that doesn’t mean there’s no calorie burn in a slower class. In fact, slow yoga can increase strength and flexibility. Additionally, it rids your body of stress-induced chemicals that cause weight gain and inflammation.
If you’re a plus-sized girl who’s new to yoga, it’s even more important that you find a gentle, slow class when starting out. This will give you a chance to ease into the practice so that you don’t feel discouraged by a workout that’s too challenging. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to find a yoga class specifically designed for plus-size bodies. If you do, take advantage immediately!
As with all exercises, you need to learn to trust your inner voice so that you know when you’ve hit your limit. Just because yoga is a low impact exercise, it doesn’t mean you can’t hurt yourself. Twisting and contorting your body into poses you’re not used to can cause strain, muscle tears and even back injuries if you go overboard. The fact is that not all poses are going to work for everyone. All bodies are created differently, and some positions cause unique challenges depending on the body that’s undertaking them.
Being plus sized, you also need to remember that your weight is literally weight. When you go into the crane pose, you could be lifting 50+ more pounds than the size-four girl at the front of the class. Your body is simply not going to move into that position as easily. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Respect your body, don’t judge yourself and follow your instincts.
Yoga, and all exercise for that matter, should make you feel good about yourself. If you come across a teacher who makes you feel ashamed of your body or is pushing you too hard, it’s time to change classes.
There are plenty of teachers out there who will have you leaving class feeling positive, smiling, and with more patience and clarity. Find that teacher and stick with him or her.
Why are you doing yoga? If you don’t know, it’s time to take a minute to reflect. Are you there for fun? Do you want to try something new? Do you just want to shed pounds?
Whatever your reason, know that yoga is not just about exercise and toning up. A large part of the practice is developing mental focus and clarity that you can carry into your everyday life. When your yoga instructor tells you to focus on your breathing, she’s doing it for a reason. If this doesn’t matter to you, there may be other exercises better suited to you than yoga. You have plenty of options. The important thing is to find a workout routine you enjoy that accomplishes your fitness and health goals.