You don't need to be stick-thin to practice yoga. However, you may need to know a few different yoga exercises to suit a more curvy or longer body shape. For example, yoga expert Meera Patricia Kerr explains in a "Daily Telegraph" article that exercises using walls for support or exercising while sitting in chairs are good for overweight and plus-size women. Check with your doctor before trying any yoga training.
The Practicing Restorative Yoga or Stretching for Metabolic Syndrome study conducted by the University of California San Diego and the University of California San Francisco suggests a good pose for plus-sized women involves reclining with raised legs. Place a small pillow on the floor near a chair. Put another pillow a foot or so closer to the chair. Lie back on the floor so your head rests on the pillow, with the other pillow supporting your lower back. Raise your legs and put them on the chair. Breathe steadily and hold this position for several minutes.
Chair Neck Stretch
Neck stretches are a straightforward way to practice yoga if you're overweight. It helps to stretch out your spine and back muscles, as well as work your neck and shoulders. However, you can do all this sitting down, according to the Boston Yoga website. Sit straight in a hard-backed chair. Bend your right ear toward your right shoulder. As you lean, stretch your right arm down toward the ground and hold for a few seconds. Breathe deeply and at a regular pace. Repeat the movement in the opposite direction. Try moving your chin to your chest and feel the stretch down your shoulders and back.
Using a wall for added support is ideal for plus-size women or anyone with any balance worries. In her book "Yoga at Your Wall," Stephanie Pappas suggests the exercise "mountain at the wall" as a good beginner wall position. It's good for aligning posture and improving steadiness. Stand with your back to the wall and your buttocks touching the wall. Focus on one still point in front of you. Gently ease your shoulders and your triceps back against the wall. Lift your arms up, with your elbows bent at 90-degrees. Keep them flat against the wall. If you have a yoga block, try squeezing that between your legs while in position.
Chair Arm Stretch
Chair arm stretches help you work your sides and arms without standing and risking loss of balance. Lift both arms in an arch until they're both directly above your head. Exhale slowly and lower your arms again. Do this several times until you feel relaxed and comfortable. Next, try holding one side of a chair with your hand. Curl your opposite arm over your head and bend your body down toward your other hand. Holding the chair gives you extra stability.
- "The Telegraph": Big Yoga Classes Offered in US for Overweight Students
- University of California TV: Yoga Is for Everyone: An Introduction to Gentle Chair Yoga
- University of California National Center for Excellence in Woman's Health: Practicing Restorative Yoga or Stretching for Metabolic Syndrome (PRYSMS)
- "Yoga at Your Wall: Stretch Your Body, Strengthen Your Soul, Support Your Practice"; Stephanie Pappas; 2009