Is yoga for curvy ladies too? YES! In a decade of teaching yoga, I have seen all types of bodies in my group classes and in private sessions.
“I’m not flexible” and “I’m not skinny” are two of the most common excuses I hear for not practicing yoga. Typically, practicing will help you gain some flexibility. Excuse one down. Is yoga for curvy ladies too? YES! In a decade of teaching yoga, I have seen all types of bodies in my group classes and in private sessions. Second excuse . . . eliminated!
Yoga is for anyone who is willing to start the journey and practice. You can go as deep mentally as you want, or stay with just a physical practice. Sometimes it can feel intimidating to begin, or dive back in. Here are seven keys for success when practicing yoga for curvy ladies, along with pose cues or options.
Yoga For Curvy Ladies – 1: Responsibility
Responsibility: You bear the responsibility for keeping yourself safe during your practice. To do this, let the instructor know if you have any health issues, injuries, or are pregnant. This can often be done by asking the teacher before class begins if they will ask the class en mass. If not, then you can let them know then and there. This helps the instructor gauge what cautions to give, or if any pose is contraindicated for any of your concerns. Listen to your body and be gentle when you need to. Be self-honest with your ability when you are deciding what version of a pose you will do. The instructor is a guide that will help you navigate a practice but relies on you to decide if some adjustments need to be made depending on how you feel. Always make sure you are cleared by your health care provider to participate in a yoga class.
Pose: When you are flowing between cat and cow, two simple variations are to double your mat underneath your knees to give more padding, or to use your fists instead of having your palms flat on the mat so that you can help relieve some pressure on your wrists as you are acclimating to the practice.
Yoga For Curvy Ladies – 2: Listen
Listen: Even if you have practiced yoga for years there is always something you can learn by listening to the instructor. As a long-time teacher, I still learn each time I take a class. Perhaps it is a cue that has been given to you over and over, but in this class you finally hear it. It may be a way that the pose alignment is described that just clicks and all the sudden the pose feels better than it ever has. It is possible that you are missing a vital alignment cue that will ease discomfort in a pose. Keep listening and bring an awareness into your body of what is needed and how you are moving.
Pose: Downdog is a pose that most people can make some small alignment adjustments to and gain tremendous benefit. The pressure in the hands should be in the finger pads and knuckles. Often, people place most of the pressure in the wrist, causing unnecessary strain. Think of someone trying to pull your fingers up while you resist. This alignment will build strength and be of benefit in other poses as you advance physically.
Yoga For Curvy Ladies – 3: Open-minded
Open-minded: Each instructor brings different tools and options to the table. When you go to a class, be open to the practice they offer for that day. You have the option to not go back if it isn’t what you really like, but you might enjoy it more than you think. Be open-minded to what is being offered even if it is, “Just for today.”
Pose: As you lower in Chaturanga, the body and arm alignment is important to build strength and to progress with other poses. Working first in a kneeling Chaturanga builds the strength to lower down, keeping the elbows in near the body and abdominals supported before staying lifted on the feet when you lower.
Yoga For Curvy Ladies – 4: Ask
Ask: If you are having a hard time with a pose, ask the instructor after class for help to check alignment or offer variations. Sometimes this can be done during class if they are walking around assisting. However, it might be a longer conversation that needs to be conducted after class so it doesn’t hold everyone up. Some instructors give a lot of variations during a session, but not all. If you would like to have more variations, ask them to provide more.
Pose: In side plank, one option is to go down to the knee on the bottom leg. The top leg can stay on the ground or be lifted parallel to the ground.
Yoga For Curvy Ladies – 5: Listen… Again…
Listen . . . again: When we listen to the body, we are aware of how it is feeling that day. It doesn’t matter where you took your practice the day before. If the body doesn’t want to push as hard today, but you insist, you may risk injury and create a set-back that takes longer to recover from. It is okay to take a gentler version of a pose. There are times that I do so and feel more intensity in some muscles than I do in a more “physically advanced” version. It is also important to realize that often, there is a difference from one side to the other, so don’t expect each side to perform the same.
Pose: In triangle, focus on the side stretch on the side of the body that is on top, and work to keep that shoulder open and in alignment with the other shoulder. If the lower arm does not go as low to the ground as it did yesterday, don’t forego alignment to reach lower. Build strength and flexibility where you are today.
Yoga For Curvy Ladies – 6: Try
Try: Not all instructors will resonate with you. Don’t feel bad for trying different ones until you find the right fit, and don’t give up on yoga just because one instructor wasn’t the right instructor for you. Pose: In Savasana, or final relaxation, allow your body to relax and sink into the mat a little more with each exhale. You deserve to have this time for you.
Yoga For Curvy Ladies – 7: Embrace
Embrace: Let your inner Goddess shine, and embrace your body. Celebrate that you try new things and that your body moves the way it does. With each pose see how it feels for you. There are always options in yoga if one variation does not work well at this time, or ever.
Pose: In easy seated pose, sit in a way that allows you to be more comfortable. Some options are to keep one or both legs straight instead of folding them together, or you can try keeping the feet on the ground with the knees bent. As we bring our hands to heart center in prayer position, Anjali Mudra, we conclude our practice. The light in me honors the light in you, Namaste (I bow to you).
Yoga For Curvy Ladies – Conclusion
As Aadil Palkhivala said, “True yoga is not about the shape of your body but the shape of your life. Yoga is not to be performed. Yoga is to be lived. Yoga doesn’t care about what you have been. Yoga cares about the person you are becoming. Yoga is designed for a vast and profound purpose and for it to be truly called yoga, its essence must be embodied.”
It is a practice, and I love that we call it that. You are not expected to be perfect the first time, the fifteenth time, or the thousandth time you practice. The important thing is to get on your mat, take a deep breath, and embrace the beautifully curvy body that is flowing gracefully, or not so gracefully, through each pose.