Yoga for Overweight People: Complete Guide to Plus Size Yoga
A few months ago my friend Susan was raving about how she loved meditating but was bummed that she couldn’t do yoga because she was overweight. I believe her exact words were “Yoga is not for fat people.”. Those words lead me to create this guide. Let me back up though.
It all started with some simple research to show her that there are plus sized people thriving in the yoga community and that there are several modifications she can do the positions to make them doable for her body. I knew this because I have had several friends over the years in yoga classes who were plus sized when they started. They used modifications and listened to their body and, in time, they started doing great things and seeing amazing results.
However, I had never really searched online for this. When I finally did, I was quite surprised to find a huge community of plus size yogi bloggers, YouTubers and Instagrammers. Together they provide a wealth of mostly free content that can help lead you in the right direction in your journey to becoming a yogi.
When I found all this information, I thought it would make it a great blog post to help educate and inspire other plus sized yogis who might be feeling that way. This is a comprehensive guide to get you started with yoga.
Plus Sized Yoga Tips
- Modify Poses Relax. Nobody is going to judge you. A lot of the time the teacher will introduce a modification for beginners. Try using that modification. If that’s not enough, ask teacher the teacher for a further modification or alternate pose. If you are doing Yoga at home, I have some modifications you can do to popular positions listed in the next section. Also, there are a few bloggers/YouTubers making free content that teach you modifications to different positions. I will list them later in this article also.
- Find A Teacher That Works for You Talk to your teacher about your needs. A good teacher will remember the conversation and let you know about modifications and alternative positions during your class. If they aren’t responsive, try different ones. Some teachers are just more passive in nature and don’t know a lot of modifications. That’s OK. Keep looking until you find someone that suits your needs and you feel comfortable with. The chances of you finding your ideal yoga teacher in your first shot is quite low. So, it is wise to shop around a bit. Most yoga studios have an introductory offer that makes them very cheap to try out. Take advantage of these offers at all of your local yoga studios until you find a teacher that you connect with that understands your unique needs and concerns.
- Props Sometimes you can’t fully reach or stretch enough. That’s when bolsters, blocks and straps come to save the day! They will help you do the position, even if you cannot fully reach. Yoga classes usually have these. You can also order some from Amazon or use household items instead. For example, a towel can also function as a strap in some cases.
- Skip Poses Some poses won’t be practical or safe with extra weight. Don’t feel bad to skip them. Try different poses during those. Ask a teacher if you are in a class. There is usually more than one way to get the benefits of that pose. This brings me to my next tip:
- Listen to Your Body Don’t keep going if it hurts. It can be very dangerous if you try to push through the pain. Pain during your yoga session is your body’s way of saying “Hey, something is not right and there will be damage soon if you keep this up.”. Of course, some pain is OK and actually necessary to grow as a yogi. However, don’t worry because you will know the difference when you are doing it.
- Slowly Increase Goals With Each Session I know you want to go out there and kick ass on the mat. I admire your tenacity, but it is important to know your limits and make small but steady improvements every week. See if you can stretch a little further, hold poses a little longer every week. With those small improvements you will eventually be able do poses that were previously impossible to you. Challenge yourself and meticulously document and track your progress.
- Track Your Results Keeping track of your progress will only motivate you to do more. There is just something about being able to visually see your progress that skyrockets your motivation way more than just “mentally knowing” you are improving. To track your progress, use a notepad or there are several apps that do this in the fitness section of your phone’s app store. There is one called Track Yoga for both Android and iPhone and it works great!
- Consider Starting at Home There are many benefits of a class, especially for someone with unique needs such as a plus sized person. However, if you don’t have the confidence to walk into a class just yet, it may help to start at home with some YouTube videos or DVDs.
- Eventually Leave Your House Though o Don’t get stuck in the trap of forever remaining a “home yogi”. It may be easy to stay in the comfortable cocoon that is your house. While that is better than doing no yoga at all, you would be best served by going to an actual yoga class. A yoga teacher will guide you through modifications and props you can use to be able to do the pose if you get stuck. More importantly, they will let you know if you should skip a pose altogether and do an alternative one if that is not safe for your level of experience or weight. • So if you are nervous about walking into that classroom. Sure, start with yoga videos from YouTube or DVDs, but set a date for yourself to transition into going into an actual class (and be honest with yourself and go that day!). They say “Everything you want is outside of your comfort zone.” and this is no different.
- Don’t Overthink It If you don’t feel confident going to a class. You are probably overthinking it. Yogi is a very open, accepting and nonjudgmental community. I found this out some years ago as a 26-year-old male, starting yoga classes which (in my area) are predominantly filled with women. Also, I wasn’t confident walking in there as an absolute newbie. It turns out Nobody will judge you for not being able to do the poses 100%! Everybody just thinks it’s great you started. It is a truly a very welcoming community, so don’t be scared!
Plus Size Yoga Videos
The internet is a great thing. People make information to help others and give it away for free. These three YouTubers are no different. They share their experience and knowledge with you. All they ask is that you watch their videos and maybe throw em a ‘subscribe’ or something if you like what you see.
I narrowed this list down from about ten or so. These three are the highest quality plus sized yogi YouTubers. They make the best videos and upload most frequently.
I’m going to discuss each channel and showcase one video from each.
Coach Tulin is by far the most popular plus sized yogi YouTuber. Her videos are well made. She has a lot of them on her channel and she regularly uploads more. If you are going to follow any YouTuber, Coach Tullin is the one. She goes over how to use chairs to make positions more doable for plus sized people. She has some cool plus size yoga poses which are essentially modifications of common poses.
On a side note, she also has a few videos about exercise and weight loss. She even has a few fun “personal vlog” type videos. Her channel is both educational and entertaining, a great mix!
Her videos are just as well made as Coach Tullin and have an awesome instructional quality to them. She has a good amount of useful content on her channel. Definitely worth taking a look.
She has about half as many videos as Coach Tullin but she is always uploading more!
Another very well made YouTube channel that is run by an awesome woman named Amber Karnes. Her videos are fun to watch because she has an awesome personality. Check her channel out also. She has instructional videos, fun personal type stuff and interviews with other well-known plus sized yogis. At the time of posting this, she has been uploading new videos fairy frequently so make sure to check her out. She even has a 45 minute full yoga sequence videos for plus sized people!
Plus Size Yoga DVDs
You may be interested in more professionally produced videos to do yoga at home. Also, YouTube videos are great but you may want a sequence of poses organized like a traditional class. If that is the case, there are a good amount of plus size yoga DVDs out there that you may want to check out.
Expanding into Fullness
[Expanding into Fullness, Yoga for Large Women with Sally Pugh] . This one had a very calming vibe to it. It includes some great meditations. Special attention is given to props, chairs, and pose modifications.
[MegaYoga] Again, great meditations. The DVD contains the proper use of props, chairs, and pose modifications to suit a plus sized person. It was very professionally made.
10 Plus Size Yoga Instragrammers
If you are like me, you check your Instagram several times a day(yes I”m somewhat of an addict). What better place to add people who inspire you to reach your goals? That is why my feed is FULL of yogi Instagrammers. Seeing them do amazing poses and the lifestyle they live inspires me to reach for more and try harder poses!
There are also several plus sized yogi Instagrammers who are simply kicking butt! I recommend you follow them for a daily dose of inspiration in your Instagram feed. Also, the comments of these types of Instagram posts are often like a mini-community. You can hear the questions of concerns of others who are in the same situation as you.
There are dozens of plus size yogis killing it on Instagram, these are the top 10 (In my opinion) to get you started:
Cool yoga poses, quotes and lifestyle posts.
Very popular instagrammer at 150k followers. She has a lot of yoga pics and a few pics of her life sprinkled in.
She is also popular at 312k and has a book out called “Every Body Yoga”.
Very cool looking and artsy pictures. Definitely one of the most popular plus sized yogis.
Awesome yoga posts and quotes.
Very popular instagrammer. Her yoga pose pics will inspire you!
A yoga teacher who takes us inside her studio. Very cool stuff.
If you take one thing away from this article, it is to not overthink it and just get started. Come up with a plan and just follow through with it. Watch some of the YouTube videos or maybe check out some classes in your area. That will help you figure out what is right for you and then you will be able to develop an action plan a lot easier. The first step is figuring out what you are comfortable with (or what you are least uncomfortable with) and building a plan around that. Then all that is left is following your plan.
You may not be comfortable at first, and that’s OK. Many of us weren’t comfortable when first stepping into a yoga class. In time, you will become more comfortable and start enjoying yoga more than you know.
Has this article helped you? Do you have any questions or comments about any part of it? Do you think there is anything I could have added to it? I would love to hear them! Please comment them below.