Plus Size Yoga
We Are Not Limited By Our Curves
"Yoga is possible for anybody who really wants it. Yoga is universal... But don't approach yoga with a business mind looking for worldly gain." ~Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois
Yes, plus size women can and do participate in yoga practise. If you are plus size but have not discovered the benefits and joy of yoga then you have come to the right place.
This lens is your one stop shop to plus size yoga. You will find reviews of my favorite CDs and books as well as links to some of the best yoga sites on the web.
Yoga is a fun, relaxing, strengthening form of exercise that is good for your body and your mind. The beauty of yoga is that it is not limited by location or body size.
The Beauty of Yoga - It Is Not Limited to LocationClick thumbnail to view full-size
Yoga Just My Size with Megan Garcia
In an intro, Megan discusses how she came to perform yoga, how she was motivated to produce a video and how it works. She talks about being self conscious and limited by her size and what yoga has done for her. This video is designed to increase self confidence, produce a sense of calm, lengthen tight muscles and improve posture. Weight loss is not the focus of this video. Like with most exercise videos, there is a caution for all viewers especially if you're pregnant or menstruating.
Yoga: Just My Size is divided into 3 sections: Warm up, Workout, and Deep Relaxation. Throughout the twenty minute routine Megan wears a body hugging unitard showing off her chubby belly and double chin. According to her website, her frame is 210 pounds, the 5'10" and a size 18. As Megan performs the moves a voice narrates directions on how to perform them and what to use. The background music is louder and annoying, bordering on cheesy cheap.
The warm up works through five slow, non-strenuous movements, holding each posture for five deep breaths. After a lunge transition to the standing position for the workout Megan performs five new postures, again with five deep breaths. This set is repeated once more before doing another lunge transition, to the floor to do four more poses as a transition to prepare the body for the final step, deep relaxation.
Tips are not given through the video so it's important, if you're not going to watch the whole video right through to at least watch the special tips section first. Here she provides some info on how to use a chair, pillow, wall or shoulder block for a few of the popular poses.
In a short interview at the end, Megan declares, "I want to help women feel beautiful and confident, in their own skin." She feels anyone larger than a size 8 must practise yoga because, "Yoga forces you to look inside."
I have some experience with yoga; both with classes and on my own. I found the moves easy to do with little strain. The great thing about the DVD is you can easily skip the intro and go right into the warm up. I hate DVDs that make you go through opening credits to get to the starting point. As a time saver the warm-up would be an excellent mini energizer in the morning and the deep relaxation at night would help settle the day before sleep.
As I mentioned earlier, the music is a bit cheesy. The alternating clips of rushing clouds are hypnotic. Megan doesn't provide the instruction. The simple moves provide an excellent platform for beginners but are perhaps too simplified for advanced practitioners other than a change of view and routine to their video collection. It is short so there are no excuses for not fitting it into your activity schedule a few times a week. I'm sure you'll be addicted in no time.
- Entire Program
- The Workout
- Deep Relaxation
- Special Tips (modifications)
- Just My Size Brand Video
- Language selection
This is not a teaching video. It's just pretty to watch.
Six Foot Mandala Round Yoga Mat
Now here is a yoga mat that a plus size yogi can be proud of. No more readjusting to stay on the mat. No more hanging off the mat while doing floor work. And it's big enough to share with a toddler.
This six foot mandala yoga mat is available from Mandala Yoga Retreat for $65.
Megan Garcia is a plus size model for both magazine and catalogues. In 2005 she was the instructor for the Just My Size yoga video. Mega Yoga is her own venture based on her years as a practitioner and certified yoga instructor in Manhattan, New York.
Mega Yoga covers the basic concepts of yoga and focuses strongly on the ability to treat yourself with compassion and avoid judgement. Or as Megan says, to take up space with no second thoughts. In the physical realm it teaches you how to use props like straps, blocks, walls and chairs to intensify or modify a pose.
With a motivating voice she guides readers through breath, movement and meditation to generate strength and sensitivity via Hatha (movement) yoga, all modified for the plus size woman. An ongoing theme throughout Mega Yoga is the importance of getting to know your body and how it works. Because plus size women have cushions where the average yoga user doesn't Megan offers "skills" such as moving the flesh and binding the breasts as a way of getting deeper into poses. I don't have the chest issue so I can't let you know how effective this technique is but the moving flesh is a viable option.
Mega Yoga is a full colour, heavy weight, glossy, 157 page book intended for beginners. It's divided into seven categories. Each category of poses has Megan wearing a different colour outfit which is a great marker if you're quickly flipping through the book to find a specific section. The pictures are clear and they are numbered so you know where to look next. The pose explanations are brief and point out areas to keep an eye or focus on. Practically every page has a sidebar for mega tips, modifications, cautions or ways to intensify poses.
There is more to yoga than poses so Megan teaches three types of breathing common to yoga practise but sometimes lost in class translation: dirgha breathing, ujjayi breathing and alternate nostril breathing.
At the end, everything is arranged into three programs, 30 minute, 60 minute and 90 minute, with a small image of each pose and what page to find it on if you need further direction.
Here are the categories:
- Standing poses
- Wall poses and Inversions
- Cleansing Poses
- Quiet Poses
What I would have liked to have seen is a pull out section of the programs so I could post them for easier reference or perhaps a ring binding so the book would stay open at the page I'm working on. Technical things that have nothing to do with the content.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mega Yoga and highly recommend it.
Favorite Pose - Tree - Any Time, AnywhereClick thumbnail to view full-size
Favorite Pose - WarriorClick thumbnail to view full-size
Big Yoga - Flexibility
"For those who don't look like the traditional Yoga models."
Meera Patricia Kerr has been teaching yoga for 30 years and is certified in Hatha 1, Cardiac and Extra Gentle Yoga, and Meditation. Her approach is not commercial but strives to include a full body experience including a peaceful mind and strong breath. Big Yoga - Flexibility is more of a starting point "to ease ourselves into yoga" or any physical activity for that matter.
The Flexibility CD begins with adaptations to positions to ease tension or pressure on hips, knees and wrists. Meera has a belly and admits it gets in the way while doing movements but it means she cannot bring the positions as close to her core as a slimmer person could. It does not mean they are not doable or beneficial, just different.
Big Yoga - Flexibility makes sure the ankles, hips, shoulders, neck, and wrists all get some activity. The movements are performed on the floor but many moves can be done in the chair or standing position if getting down on the floor is difficult. She uses layman terms and official yoga terms to cement understanding. Throughout each movement she gives helpful prompts to enliven the lungs with proper breathing (when to inhale or exhale) and rhythm.
Following the flexibility movements Meera takes viewers through one of the most popular sequence of yoga asanas, the Sun Salute. In the Hatha 1 video she taught viewers how to do the Sun Salute with a wall. In this video she teaches how to do it with a chair. This helps to keep the momentum going and is easier than getting up and down from the floor quickly and repeatedly but it is still beneficial. As the user progresses they can eventually transition to using the floor if they choose.
One of my favorite activities at the end of a yoga class is the guided relaxation/meditation. It helps me take stock of what my body is doing. In Meera's video it is done on the floor to relaxing music but can just as easily be performed on a bed or sitting in chair. The final part of the relaxation is nostril breathing and then she goes into a lovely peace chant.
For those who want to explore the chanting aspect of yoga this CD closes with an explanation of OM Shanti chanting -- personally, I found the accompanying accordion irritating after such a lovely relaxation and I think would have been better a cappella as Meera has a lovely voice. Chanting is not for everyone and having it at the end of the video makes it easier to skip.
The CD is divided into five sections totaling seventy minutes:
- Intro - 6:22
- Flexibility Series - 26:18
- Chair Sun Salute - 6:40
- Guided Relaxation and Pranayama - 23:46
- Peace Chant - 7:41
Overall, this isn't your typical yoga video. There isn't a series of yoga movements to practice other than the Sun Salute but a series of gentle movements to increase the body's range of motion and full breathe. Big Yoga - Flexibility would be perfect for anyone who hasn't been active in a while. It is slow but invigorating for the whole body and would be a perfect start OR end to the day. It is good for all sizes and all ages (the instructor is in her sixties). I highly recommend Big Yoga Flexibility series by Meera Patricia Kerr (BigYogaOnline.com) for anyone who wants to ease back into being active.
"The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind."
Yoga For Real Bodies
I have not seen these videos but they have been recommended to me by others.