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11 Yoga Tips for Plus-Size People

11 Yoga Tips for Plus-Size People

Yoga. If the movies are to be believed, it’s designed for ridiculously in-shape stay-at-home mom types who visit the yoga studio right before a visit to the organic grocery store. Or it’s a relaxing thing you do on vacation. It’s for tiny people with amazing flexibility who can get into poses the majority of the free world doesn’t even dare attempt.

But 5 years ago, I learned that yoga was not just for the uber-limber. It’s for me. And for you. I am plus-size—or to be more exact, 4XL sized. As a 6’3″ and well over 300–pound male, I am the antithesis of the stereotypical yoga master. But I was introduced to it though P90X series and found that over time, I got more out of the yoga section than any workout I’ve ever experience. I believe that plus-size yoga is one of the best things you can do if you’re overweight.

I’ve been active all my life, playing sports growing up and always seemingly training for something. I’ve done everything to get in shape, from classes to boot camps, to two-a-days for the football team. When you’re overweight and plus-size, getting in shape is a long, winding road.

For me, yoga offered an opportunity that I never had before. It worked on my core, my flexibility, and honestly, my mind. It was the foundation that helped me improve myself in many other ways. Yoga truly made me a better person.

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But it’s not easy. And it takes practice. During my first week, to say I struggled is an understatement. They were doing Downward Dog and I was trying to drag myself off the mat. But each new session became easier. Poses I gave up on day one, I did by day 30. It wasn’t an easy journey, but sticking with it was the best thing I’ve done.

So I want to share what I’ve learned from my experience and encourage everyone to give yoga a shot. To help you succeed, here are my 11 yoga tips for plus-size people.

1. Just do it.

The first and most important step is to get started and develop a plan. And follow the plan! It may take a couple weeks, if not longer, before you get comfortable. Make a promise to yourself to give it enough time to truly see the benefits—which, according to the NCCAM, include lower stress levels, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and relief from depression, anxiety, and chronic back pain.

2. Take it slow & listen to your body.

Whether you join a class at a yoga studio or start with videos, it’s important to do what you can. Over-extending yourself can do more harm than good. You want to push yourself, but listen to your body. If a pose hurts, modify it. The poses are much harder than they look, so stay strong, but understand when you’ve gone too far and back off.

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3. Do more each session.

You should try to get further, hold poses for longer, and challenge yourself to improve with each session. Your body will adapt and will allow you to do more. Make sure you push yourself to do more each and every time. By pushing yourself to do more, you should find that yoga will help with pain where other methods fail. Conclusions from a 2011 study of 313 adults with chronic or recurring lower-back pain suggested that 12 weekly yoga classes resulted in better function than with the usual medical care.

4. Understand your limitations.

You will not be able to do every pose the first time. You may not be able to do any of them! Understand what you can and can’t do and own it! Don’t worry if you have to do a modified version of the pose. As a plus-size person, there are things that we can not do. Don’t get discouraged.

5. Find a yoga buddy.

You will have much more success and will be able to stick to it if you have someone pushing you. This is especially true for us plus-sizers. It’s going to be difficult and at times seem impossible. Having someone who is there to help push you can be a key to your success.

6. Don’t get discouraged.

It will be hard. You will likely want to quit. It’s very difficult to see how “easy” it is for everyone else. Understand that this journey is about you! As a plus-sized person, each and every move is much more challenging. Yoga uses your body weight as the resistance, so the more you have, the harder it becomes. Understand that you’re doing more work each time and keep your head up!

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7. Start at home.

While this won’t apply to everyone, if you’re conscious about how you’ll look, start at home. Find a good video and a mirror and get started. Once you get the basics and feel more comfortable, then step out into a studio.

8. Modify when necessary & do what you can when you can’t.

There will be poses that you physically cannot do. There’s often modification that your instructor can show you so you can still get the same results. And if it’s something you can’t do? Try plank position or downward dog during those poses. When there are poses you can’t do, replace with with poses you can. By doing what you can to continue practicing yoga, you will see significant health benefits.

9. Use the right equipment.

Yoga blocks, mats, and the right clothes can help you improve your form and get more our of each pose. Find the equipment that works for you and don’t hesitate to ask your instructor!

10. Track your progress.

Keep a journal of what you are able to do each session. Write down what was difficult and which poses came more easily. Find a fitness test and benchmark your progress. Understanding how far you’ve come and understanding your goals is a vital part of maintaining success.

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11. Have fun.

Yoga may not be fun when you start, but with practice and patience, it can be fun! Go in with the right mindset and you’ll get as much out of yoga as you put in!

Featured photo credit: Fat Yoga via flickr.com

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Kyle Robbins

Kyle is the founder of Branding Beard. He writes about communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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