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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 October 23, 2018

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

My mother was a great knitter and produced some wonderful garments such as Aran sweaters which were extremely fashionable when I was young. She also knitted while my father drove, which caused great amusement. I often wondered why she did that but I think I know the answer now.

Knitting is good for your mental health, according to some research studies. The Washington Post mentions a 2013 survey of about 3,500 knitters who were asked how they felt after a knitting session. Over 80% of them said they definitely felt happier. It is not a totally female occupation as more and more men take it up to get the same benefits. Harry Styles (One Direction) enjoys knitting. So does Russell Crowe although he does it to help him with anger management!

The Neural Knitwork Project

In Australia, Neural Knitworks was started to encourage people to knit and also become aware of neuroscience and mental health issues. Knit-ins were organized but garments were not the only things created. The knitters produced handmade neurons (1,665 of them!) to make a giant brain. The 2015 project will make more neural knitted networks (neural knitworks) and they will be visible online. You can see some more examples of woolly neurons on the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

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While people knitted, crocheted and crafted yarn, they listened to experts talking about mental health issues such as addiction, dementia, depression, and how neurons work.

The knitting and neural connection

The human brain has about 80 billion neurons. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity all help to forge neural connections which keep the brain healthy and active. They are creating networks to control movement and make memories. The knitters learn that as they create the woollen neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Their creations are mimicking the processes in their brains to a certain extent. At the same time, their brains are registering new and interesting information as they learn interesting facts about the brain and how it works. I love the knitworks and networks pun. What a brilliant idea!

More mental health benefits from knitting

Betsan Corkhill is a physiotherapist and has published some results of completed studies on her website, appropriately named Stitchlinks. She conducted some experiments herself and found that knitting was really helpful in reducing panic and anxiety attacks.

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“You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”- Betsan Corkhill

Knitters feel happier and in a better mood

Ann Futterman-Collier, Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is very interested in how textile therapy (sewing, knitting, weaving and lace-making) can play an important role in mood repair and in lifting depressive states.

She researched 60 women and divided them into three different groups to do some writing, meditating and work with textiles. She monitored their heartbeat, blood pressure and saliva production. The women in the textiles group had the best results when their mood was assessed afterwards. They were in a better mood and had managed to reduce their negative thoughts better than those in the writing and meditation groups.

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“People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.” – Dr. Futterman Collier

The dopamine effect on our happiness

Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine. This helps us to feel happy, more motivated, and assists also with focus and concentration. We get a boost of dopamine after sex, food, exercise, sleep, and creative activities.

There are medications to increase dopamine but there are lots of ways we can do it naturally. Textile therapy and crafting are the easiest and cheapest. We can create something and then admire it. In addition, this allows for a little bit of praise and congratulations. Although this is likely not your goal, all these can boost our dopamine and we just feel happier and more fulfilled. These are essential in facing new challenges and coping with disappointment in life.

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“Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

If you thought knitting and textiles were for old ladies, think again!

Featured photo credit: DSC_0012/Mary-Frances Main via flickr.com

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