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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

Founder, BrandingBeard.com

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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