Yoga for Plus Sizes

Handout:

As a plus-size person, are you curious to try yoga but convinced it won’t work for your body? The good news is you can benefit from yoga’s positive physiological and psychological effects. Practicing yoga can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding ways for you to become healthy, build confidence and self-esteem, and sometimes achieve weight loss.

To get started, try these three variations of yoga poses designed by Lanita Varshell, a plus-size yoga instructor and owner of A Gentle Way Yoga & Joyful Movement in San Diego. They are designed to work well for plus-size people. While these poses may seem simple, they can relieve pain and make a remarkable difference in your fitness level.

1. Knees-to-Chest Pose

This pose gently massages the digestive system and gives relief from excess wind in the stomach and intestines. It also relaxes and stretches the lower back.

Lie on the floor, feet close to the buttocks, knees facing the ceiling. (This supports the back.) Each heel aligns with the center of the corresponding buttock. Toes point straight ahead; hands are on the floor by your sides. On an inhalation, lift the right knee. On an exhalation, bring the right knee slowly toward your chest, keeping it toward the center of the body rather than letting it wander out toward the hip. Hold it there for one full breath, visualizing your right lower back melting into the floor; then take the knee down, rest and repeat on the left side. Practicing this pose will begin to detoxify the internal organs. As they let go of their toxins and tightness, swelling in the belly decreases and back pain and discomfort are released.

2. Child’s Pose

This pose relieves lower-back tension, gently stretches the spine, massages the abdominal organs, refreshes the legs and quiets the mind.

If you can easily get down on all fours, open your knees and feet equally (as much as you need to) as you push back toward the heels and drop the belly and chest toward the floor. (If the knees and feet are not equally open, the stretch becomes a hip opener more than a back stretch.) Your hands might need to go under the head, creating a pillow so the head does not feel it’s sinking into the floor. If the hands aren’t needed, relax even more by stretching both arms out toward the wall ahead of you, gently walking the fingertips forward until you feel a “little” back stretch. Now focus on breathing into your spine.

3. Corpse Pose

Many important physiological changes take place in corpse pose. It reduces energy loss from the body, removes stress, lowers your respiration and pulse rates, and rests your whole system.

From the start position, bend your knees and bring the feet closer to the buttocks to take pressure off the lower back. Knees can be touching or close, with feet a little apart, pigeon-toed style, to add back support. The focus is on softening and relaxing the belly.

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February 2004

© 2004 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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