Do yoga classes intimidate you? Are you convinced you’ll never be able to touch your toes? Is it your weight that’s holding you back? Well I’m here to tell you that yoga isn’t just designed for the skinny, athletic body that you see on the cover of Yoga Journal or on a lululemon ad. Studies have shown that people who regularly get on their mat, not only have improved physical fitness but, experience reduced blood pressure, anxiety and, among other things, lower stress levels! Everyone, no matter their size or shape, should be able to experience this “post-yoga glow”.
It’s always scary trying something new and unfamiliar, especially when you feel like the odd man out, but this is the perfect opportunity to not allow your weight to hold you back from achieving a healthy life. Try some of these tips the next time you decide to take a yoga class and who knows, maybe you’ll come out of the other side, stronger, happier and healthier!
1. Find a teacher and studio
The key is finding a yoga instructor/studio that you feel comfortable with. Connect with your instructor before class and don’t be afraid to open up to them about any concerns you have. Whether it has to do with your weight or personal insecurities, this will allow them to better understand where you are and offer you any adjustments or props during class. Also, ask them for a simple 10 minute sequence, tailored to your physical needs, so you can practice at home. Maybe they can recommend a private instructor if you want more one-on-one attention. The instructor is there to offer you any support they can to create a positive experience for you so feel free to ask anything!
2. Pay attention to you and only you
No matter your size, the first yoga class is pretty intimidating, especially if there are some advanced yogis in the room. However, a yoga class is a place where you can solely focus on yourself and let go of everything and everyone around you. I remember when I first started practicing and I thought everyone was staring at me because I was doing this pose wrong or I looked weird when, in actuality, nobody was looking at me. Everyone in a yoga class is focusing on their own practice which is pretty inspiring! It’s a nice reminder to send yourself some love and attention.
3. Honor your body
Don’t worry if you’re moving a little slower than the rest of class or if you can’t balance on one foot yet. Yoga isn’t about executing every pose perfectly, it’s about honoring your body and self. So if you need to take a few breaths and rest in child’s pose, do it! Listen to yourself. If you suffer from physical complications due to your weight, use props! Try placing a blanket under your knees for extra cushion on your joints or using a block or two if you can’t touch the floor yet. Listen for modifications from the instructor because every pose can be altered for more or less challenge.
4. Stay optimistic!
Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t catching on right away. Balance and flexibility take time to manifest in the body, especially for those who struggle with their weight. Just be patient with yourself and remember to breathe. Start small, taking 1 or 2 classes per week, or maybe practicing on your own for 15 minutes in the morning. Take your time and stay positive because you are capable of creating a strong yoga practice, no matter your size, age, or experience level.
So, whether you have always wanted to practice or you were just convinced that your body wasn’t made for yoga, think again! Yoga is for any and all body types so roll out your mat because your practice is about to begin!