Exercise is a wonderful way to get in shape and remain healthy. Yoga is an excellent exercise; you work your entire body, stay flexible and relax. When beginning yoga, it’s important to use proper form for every pose so that you avoid injury. If you’re plus-sized like me, then you know that finding clothes that fit and flatter can be challenging. If you’ve had trouble on the mat because you’ve had no idea how to do a pose, I’m here to help. Here are some yoga poses for plus-sized women that will get you started on your journey toward becoming flexible and fit.
First let’s discuss clothing. It’s essential to wear clothes that allow you to move and aren’t too baggy. Yoga pants or capris that end near the ankles will fit into this category. I like to wear a tight-fitting synthetic tank top as it helps pull sweat away from the skin, rather than one made of cotton which despite being all natural material, absorbs and traps sweat. A supportive sports bra is also essential. Be sure to choose one with thick straps so they don’t dig into your shoulders when you’re engaged in something like a “wheel pose”.
You’ll need a yoga mat. It’s best to purchase a new mat if you’ve never done yoga before, because it will be slippery at first. Make sure you like the feel of the mat; if it has a strong odor when you get it, then that smell is probably transferred to your body during poses. You can spray deodorant on your palms and rub them on the mat to remove some of the smell.
Keep in mind that yoga isn’t a competition, so you don’t need to be able to do all the poses. If a certain pose doesn’t work for your body type or you have physical limitations that prevent you from doing it, then simply move on to a different one. Yoga is all about being comfortable with your own body and moving at a pace that’s right for you.
Now, onto the yoga poses!
“Crescent lunge pose” is an excellent stretch that works your legs and core. Start by standing up straight with your feet together. Inhale deeply as you reach both arms to the ceiling, then exhale as you bend over from your hips and stretch one arm across the front of your body to hold your opposite foot. Make sure you do not bend at the knees as you reach down, because that could cause pain in your lower back. For an added challenge, raise up on your toes or squat down a few inches. Press into the floor with the heels of both feet and firm up those glutes! Holding this pose for a minute or two is a great way to begin your yoga session.
“Downward dog” will stretch and strengthen your arms, legs, back, torso and core. First come down onto all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Inhale as you lift your knees away from the floor, then exhale as you lift your hips and push back with straight arms. Lower your heels to the floor if you’re feeling pressure in your hamstrings, but keep your legs active by pressing into the balls of the feet. If you have a shoulder injury or discomfort here, come onto hands and knees and place one hand behind you so that it’s under the middle of your shoulder blade. Tuck your chin into your chest, then turn your head to one side and stretch the opposite arm over that ear for a little extra twist. This pose is also known as “cobra” or “upward facing dog.”
Stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
I recommend coming onto your knees after that time and resting in child’s pose for a few seconds.
“Chair pose” is another great way to get the glutes activated while stretching your legs and back. Stand up straight with feet together or hip-width apart. Turn the toes out slightly, then slowly push your hips back as you sit into a squat and reach your arms toward the floor. Make sure you’re sitting back far enough that your thighs are parallel to the floor at the bottom of this pose. This can be a difficult pose if it’s too deep, so if you need to do it with one knee on the ground, go for it! After holding here for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, come back into standing position by pushing your hips forward and leading with the chest.
Now that you know the basics of yoga, what are you waiting for? This is a gentle activity so even if you’ve never picked up on exercise before, give it a shot!
Remember that you can adjust the difficulty of yoga poses by approaching them from different angles. If you find it hard to sit back into chair pose, then bend your knees a little more. If downward dog feels too strenuous, then try coming onto your knees and hips instead.