I started going to yoga classes after I fell and broke my leg slipping on some ice. I’m not sure if I did this to increase my flexibility and strength or to get my mom to stop nagging me about going to yoga. “You’ll feel so much better if you do!” She kept telling me. It didn’t help that this was my second serious accident in a year, not to mention all the times I had sprained and torn ligaments in my ankles. After the cast was off, I stepped into my first yoga class fearful I would make a fool of myself. I had never practiced it, didn’t know the jargon and was as stiff as a board—not to mention I was very overweight.
Am I Too Fat?
At 300 pounds, I wondered how I could do yoga when I could barely see my toes much less touch them. My worries began to subside when I entered my first class and saw two women in their mid- to late seventies in the class. “If they can do it, so can I!” I thought. And I did.
My first instructor was incredible. I still remember her saying even if you can’t get completely into a pose, at least head toward it. Your body will get the idea, but you will still get a workout. Eventually, you will be able to get into the pose through persistence and patience—two very foreign ideas to me at the time.
Breaking Through Limitations
When I first started practicing, my body was sore and my mind would often tell me to just give up. Deep inside, however, I heard another voice that was having fun moving and feeling relaxed. I ignored the negative voice and kept going to class.
I’m not skinny. Although I’ve lost 80 pounds (thanks in part to practicing yoga), I am still a voluptuous woman. However, my weight has never prevented me from getting a good workout and finding new found strength and flexibility. I’ve practiced yoga for eleven years and have taught for over seven at work, homes and conferences. I’ve shown people that if I can break through my physical limitations, so can they.
Breakdown Barriers Within
If you saw an overweight person walk into a yoga class, what would you think she or he could do? What does that say about yourself and what limitations you’re putting on yourself? I’ve learned to go with the flow, literally. There are asanas and vinyasa flows (a series of poses done in a routine) that allow you to move from one pose to another. These flows also allow the mind to move from one thing to another. You end up loosening your grip on control and allow things to just happen.
As I’ve said, through the poses, my body started to become more flexible and stronger. What really shocked me was that I was calmer in the rest of my life. Things started to flow more smoothly around me, and I saw my view of reality shift, slightly. Things that used to anger or annoy me, didn’t. People commented how much more calm and happy I had become and wondered what I was doing differently.
Discover what yoga can do for you. If you can’t find a class in your area, check out YogaJournal.com or videos by Gaiam. You don’t need fancy props, but a sticky mat really helps (also, don’t wear your socks!). As I’ve told my students, if I can do it at 300 pounds, so can you.