You Don’t Have to be Skinny to Practice (and Love) Yoga

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.

Unexpected Benefits

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.

You can learn how to break through any feeling of limitations. An intuitive advisor can provide unique insight into what’s holding you back.
Call 1.800.573.4830 or choose your psychic life coach now.

13 thoughts on “You Don’t Have to be Skinny to Practice (and Love) Yoga

  1. Pingback: Yoga, yum, yes | A healthy living blog from a girl with a bent for bending

  2. hallender

    Amy – great insights! I have tended to stay away from classes that do “power yoga” because I found the vibes to be different from what I enjoy. My favorite way to find a new class is to start with their teachers’ bios (if available) and a beginning class. At the Yoga Loft in Los Angeles, I found a wonderful teacher doing this for over 20 years and it made all the difference for me.

    Namaste,
    Holly

    Reply
  3. hallender

    Eleanor,

    I understand where you’re coming from! For me, self-doubt and fear kept me wrapped up in my body. When I started going to various yoga classes, I found that everyone (including all those who I think looked soooo skinny) were nervous to be in the class. Once I realized that, I felt part of the clueless club and felt at ease. Practicing at home is great, but what a difference working with a teacher and a group of people! It is so uplifting to be breathing and moving with people who are striving for similar goals (to feel better about themselves). So if you can get to a class, even once, go for it!!!

    Good luck on your path!
    Holly

    Reply
  4. Amy

    Part of the spirituality of yoga is that there is no judgement. If you feel judged in a yoga class, you are not in the right place…you are not in a true yoga practice. Yoga is about “being” not “doing”. We are not “human doings”…we are human beings. True yoga changes mind patterns and thoughts, it works to open and balance the body. Focusing on the mental and spirtual benefits should be at the forefront…the strength, flexibility, and fitness will follow suit automatically.

    Reply
  5. Eleanor

    Holly,

    thank you so much for your encouraging article. It is very empowering for overweight people.

    I’ve been having a burning desire to do yoga for a few years already but didn’t dare to go to the class not to be seen a fool, just as many overweight people. Brain and ego can’t even stand this idea! I although did started stretching exercises at home to become more flexible and loved it. It is hard to persist to do it regularly though. There are always a ton of excuses why not to.

    I will see if I can be brave enough to go to the class now, or still may be do at home for awhile. I feel however that the rigid belief of having to be skinny to be able to do yoga slowly loses its grip on me, thanks to your article. I wonder if it is tied to a general belief of not being “good enough”? In this case for doing yoga, or other workouts.

    Thank you again, Holly and all reviewers for your input.

    Eleanor

    Reply
  6. Gracie Allen Tupper

    I am also 350 lb woman. I start yoga in june 2011. I love it.
    I have dropped 63 lb. Here’s to not making your size matter.

    Reply
  7. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Love to see all the articles on Yoga lately !!!!

    And I’m glad the Author,Holly Allender, of this article made the point that Yoga is for almost everybody.

    When I teach Intuitive Awareness classes to new students….the ones that have trouble meditating I encourage to take up Yoga. As it truly does help focus and cocentration.

    Reply
  8. Rika x5376

    Holly — I have had the same experience, although i am thinner now – i started yoga at my heavy weight of 250. (now 180)I too, became a teacher and never was turned away becasue of my size and inspire many.

    As a big girl, yoga was the one exercise that i could do some part of and feel really really good after. It connected my mind and body, and in the end through consistent practice – yoga – my mind and body connection is the winner over disconnection.

    I the heat of yoga my issues work themselves out and I quite naturally change without tremendous mental strain or will power. It might be slow, but it is the nice way to go without to much suffering!

    I feel often that overweight individuals feel like they have to get skinny even to exercise – not true! Do yoga, it is the premier come as you are exercise!!

    thank you for this article and being a yogini!

    Rika x 5376

    Reply
  9. -quinn ext. 5484

    wonderful blog –
    you are as young as your spine is flexible. stretch that body.

    yoga is a beatuiful form of exercise.
    -quinn ext. 5484

    Reply
  10. -quinn ext. 5484

    wonderful blog –
    you are as young as your spine if flexible. stretch that body.

    yoga is a beatuiful form of exercise.
    -quinn ext. 5484

    Reply

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