Whenever you think of yoga, what comes to mind? A lot of stretching, right? Well, yes. But yoga promises so much more than just getting a good stretch in. Yoga promises to improve flexibility, energy and strength while reducing your stress and lifting your emotional baggage. On top of all of that, yoga also helps you lose weight. Awesome!
In fact, practicing yoga actually helps build strength over time which builds lean, mean muscles that continue burning calories long after you have completed your yoga routine.
But between the chic, dim-lit studios and pricey clothing (that is frankly too see-through), and the super flexible people at the front of the class, yoga might not feel like the best option for weight loss. Don’t be afraid to give it try! Here are some tips to help you start mastering the Downward Dog.
Remember: Yoga is for every body not just for skinny or plus size people
But yoga is only for skinny girls, isn’t it? Wrong. Yoga is experiencing the moment of connection with others and that should put a smile on your face. There is not one “right” type of body for yoga. In fact, yoga students around the world are incredibly diverse and you should remember that there are people just like you practicing plus size yoga. Take a look at these yogis who prove there’s no such thing as a “yoga body.”
Do not allow yourself the opportunity to practice yoga because you think your body does not meet the status quo. Yoga is about the journey and not the looks.
There is not one type of yoga, find one the works for you
While yoga studios work hard to be inclusive of everyone, it can be extremely intimidating to go to a new studio. If you are not comfortable with any studio, you do not have to go, plain and simple. Take some time and research studios in your area – specifically look for studios that cater to beginners that have a wide variety of teachers and class.
When doing your research, look for classes that focus on proper position for each pose so you do not get hurt. The best place to start is a gentle flow or Iyengar yoga class so that you have time to really hold and understand each position.
Don’t be surprised if a class does not feel like the right fit for you. It can and will take time to feel like a class is really meeting your needs. And remember, yoga teacher is different. If you like one type of yoga, but you’re not 100% sold on the instructor, take that style with another teacher. Just keep trying things out until you know what you like.
Not sold on the studio classes? No problem
If you are thinking that you are not really sure about paying money for a class and the possibility of not enjoying plus size yoga, you can always try yoga at home. There are so many resources available for yoga that it would be easy to try a few different types of classes before hitting a studio. Besides a wide variety of DVD options, YouTube has a wealth of yoga videos available for beginnings. Give a few of the videos a shot and once you feel a little more comfortable, start looking into joining a studio.
Slow = good
When it comes to weight loss it is important to remember that weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint. The same applies to yoga. When starting it, you might be inclined to practice daily – which is great for your health. But remember, you don’t want to burn yourself out too quickly. Take your time and give your body a chance to recover from your workouts.
You will be sore
The general assumption about yoga is that all people are doing is stretching their muscles, and to some extent this is true. However, you will be working muscles that you might not have exercised in a long time. These muscles will be sore and you could possibly be sore all over your body. Don’t panic, this is just your body building up your muscles and getting strong. It is important to remember that there is a difference between muscle pain and joint pain. If you are experiencing pain in any of your joints, you could be on the verge of an injury and should see a doctor before doing the exercise again.
Breaks are okay and should be included in your routine
Everybody moves at their own pace and should take breaks as they see fit. You will be tired anytime you start a new workout routine and it is totally okay to take a break. Just listen to what your body is saying and adjust as needed. When in your yoga class, the best position to rest in is the child’s pose. Take a few deep breaths in the position before rejoining the rest of the class.
Modify as needed
Sometimes a position or pose will not feel all that great for you. If you are in a beginner’s class, the teacher will offer you helpful ways to modify any pose that is more comfortable. If your teacher does not offer modifications, you may need to move onto a new class. Remember it is perfectly acceptable to modify poses to meet your needs and that over time each position will begin to be easier.
Embrace your emotions
Plus size Yoga has a way of opening up emotions we were not quite ready to process – embrace those emotions. While practicing yoga has wonderful benefits for your waistline, it will also help you build a healthier relationship with your emotions and your inner peace. When you are able to connect deeply with your emotions, you will find that you are able to more objectively see yourself and others.