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Yoga is a challenging yet very rewarding fitness routine, and it has benefits for mind, body, and spirit. It can be especially challenging for people who are overweight, as it requires elements of strength, resistance, and balance that even challenges the most fit.
Regardless of where you are starting, there is a way that you can incorporate yoga into a fitness routine to experience all the benefits it has to offer. Learning more about your yoga options, starting slow, and having compassion on yourself through the process will allow you to build momentum and confidence in your process, and you’ll be a seasoned yogi in no time. Follow these tips for near seamless yoga incorporation into your fitness and weight loss plan
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Use The Correct Yoga Mat
Yoga mats come in all sorts of sizes and levels of thickness. Fortunately they are not all that expensive, so buying the right yoga mat is not all that difficult.
For the heavier person, a thicker and wider mat is often the best as they provide better support and offer greater cushioning. Especially when doing poses such as downward facing dog and the plank.
If you have already got a yoga mat, you can check out the selection of oversized yoga mats here. These mats are ideal for bigger people wanting to start yoga for the first time.
How Overweight People Can Do Yoga
As you contemplate and consider your practice, it is important to review different styles and types of yoga to determine which one is right for you at your current fitness level.
Looking at videos of extreme yogis in pretzel-like positions may leave you frustrated at the thought of starting a practice, wondering how overweight people can even do yoga.It can be quite intimidating for a larger person.
Yoga For People Who Can’t Get To The Floor
Many of the yoga poses revolve around ground work, where you need to either get on your hands and knees, or laying on the floor. For a normal person, this is fine. But for a heavy person, getting on the floor and back up again is simply impossible.
Yoga for people who can’t get to the floor is simply challenging, but not impossible. As yoga is a lot about balance and flexibility it makes sense for a heavier person to bring in some form of supportive tool to help them achieve better results.
Using A Balance Ball With Yoga When Overweight
Because us larger folks are not the most flexible people in the world, nor are we the most balanced at doing some poses, adding a balance ball into your routine can help drastically.
This takes the element of getting on the floor out of the equation, instead we can use a balance ball to aid in support for poses where getting lower to the ground is required.
For example, the Seated Spinal Rotation pose. This is a easy yoga pose for overweight people because it requires us to sit on a balance ball which is against a wall for extra support.
For this move you need to stretch your legs out wider than your shoulders with your arms up and out from your shoulders. Next you turn your body to the right and bring your left hand and point it toward your right foot. You will feel the stretching immediately, which is good. Then you simply move back to the center and go the opposite way repeating the move 7 to 10 times.
Don’t Pop The Balance Ball
While this is a easy yoga move to achieve as a bigger person, you need to be very careful you don’t pop the balance ball. Because you are sitting on the ball with all your weight and pressure, its essential you buy a high weight capacity balance ball so it doesn’t pop beneath you. Not only frightening you, but you could also end up injuring yourself.
Yoga For Fat Loss
Rest assured, yoga is a process, and it is one that should meet you where you are at and challenge your current abilities, all at the same time. Yoga for fat loss primarily as the goal typically requires a more intense workout.
However yoga has been proven to be a useful method to lose fat when other methods have failed. So for an overweight person with limited flexibility, its best to start slow and steady before concentrating on the fat loss benefits of yoga.
For example, you won’t burn as many calories doing gentle yoga as you would on a 30 minute workout on a treadmill. But, in this 2016 study at Hindawi the results show that yoga is especially beneficial for weight loss. This is because it helps you become better in tune with your body, knowing when you’re full and a higher ability to resist unhealthy foods that make us overweight.
So while you’re at the beginning of your yoga journey, you may not be experiencing fat loss as such, but you will be empowering your body to lose weight in the future. Through a better diet and sense of controlling your appetite.
Choosing The Right Yoga Style For Your Size
If weight loss is part of your plan and movement is not an issue, choose a more vigorous style of yoga that amps up your cardiovascular system while improving mobility and flexibility.Using a balance ball as mentioned earlier will also help to improve flexibility and balance.
Kundalini or Hatha yoga are great styles for revving up the heat in the body and stoking your internal fat burning furnace. Practicing yoga for fat loss is a goal that many people begin with, only to find out that there are other mental and physical benefits that improve health in equally impressive ways.
Pick a style of yoga that works with your body composition and body type; as you begin to improve your health and fitness, you can also modify your practice to reflect your current fitness level.
Yoga Styles That Don’t Involve Getting On The Floor
There are styles of yoga for people who can’t get to the floor, such as the Yin style, which relies on passive poses that work with your own body weight to improve strength and flexibility; most of these are done in a sitting or reclining position.
Kripalu, another type of physically passive yoga, focuses on relaxation and meditation as part of the practice, which promotes mental health that can contribute to physical well being.
Yoga Pose For Obese People
Complete mountain pose
This pose is perfect for the obese people because it only involves standing, no sitting or laying on the floor. The Mountain pose helps to improve your flexibility and help you relax.
Stand up straight, legs hip width apart and hands resting comfortably at your sides. Inhale deeply as you raise your arms straight up by your ears, palms facing each other as you reach to the sky.
Imagine yourself a strong and powerful mountain as you draw breath and energy in through your feet, allowing it to flow along the spine and exit your body through your outstretched fingers. This pose can be a great energizer too, if you find yourself lagging at different times during the day.
Try some Savasana Yoga
Savasana, or “dead man’s pose”, is the embodiment of full relaxation and surrender in yoga. It is common to end with this full relaxation pose, arms and legs outstretched, lying on the floor, eyes closed while you focus on your breathing.
After any yoga session, it is common to end with savasana to seal in all of the valuable mental, emotional, and physical work that you have done, no matter how small your progress. It is your way of honoring your commitment to yourself and practicing compassion for your current capabilities while setting an intention for continuous improvement.
Child’s Pose For Overweight People
In child’s pose, you briefly sit down on your knees, lower legs tucked under you. Bend forward at the waist and stretch arms out as far as you can along the floor, bringing your forehead down to rest on the floor.
If keeping your legs underneath you is too difficult, widen the space between your knees and allow your upper body to rest between them, increasing the stretch along your hips. This is a wonderfully relaxing pose to do when you feel upper back and shoulder tension, or if you just need a mental break from all of the hub bub of your day.
Practicing Yoga When You’re Overweight
The beginning of any practice can be intimidating when you’re overweight. While it may seem impossible, it really isn’t. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Follow these steps and be patient as you embark on this new voyage of self discovery:
Start Slow And Steady
Depending on your physical fitness and size, the best way to get into yoga is to start slow and steady. Use assistance aids such as a balance ball so you can grow your skills in balance and flexibility.
Don’t Become Stuck
While it may be tempting to continue practicing types of yoga for people who can’t get to the floor, you’ll soon plateau, and you won’t see the benefits that come from continually challenging yourself. Once you feel the standing and sitting yoga poses are not enough, its time to challenge yourself.
When trying something new, be careful not to force positions, and make sure you can successfully hold them without injuring yourself. Do what you can, be compassionate with yourself, and you’ll see steady progress as you push yourself out of your comfort zone.
You Set The Pace
Go at your own pace and don’t feel put off by thinner people and people who have years of yoga experience under their belts. The last thing you want to do is talk yourself out of doing yoga.
Going to a class can be intimidating, for you feel you must keep up with the instructor and others around you who may have been practicing much longer than you. Sometimes its best to practice yoga at home where the anxiety and pressure of a yoga class is too much.
There are plenty of options for practice that do not involve going to a class; get a subscription to an online yoga website, or purchase some beginner DVD’s to start with, and go at your own pace to avoid injury and see personalized results.
YouTube also has plenty of videos you can watch and practice from home on your very own yoga mat.
Take a wider stance on standing postures. If you are just starting out, you may not know where your center of gravity is; taking a wider stance with standing postures and balance postures will help you to avoid injury and stand strong, rather than toppling over in the middle of a pose. Hold for as long as you can, and make sure to come out of a pose long before you fall or topple out of it to avoid injury.
Start On The Floor If You Can
Start on the floor. Regardless of whether you are doing yoga for relaxation or yoga for fat loss, ease into it. If you can, start with some gentle poses that begin on the floor and work your way into poses that require more strength and balance to perform. Building a strong foundation will be necessary as you commit to this lifestyle change and the benefits that are to come of it.
Yoga Videos For Bigger People
If you’re still not convinced you can do yoga because of your body weight and size, these videos below are for you. These videos prove that overweight people CAN do yoga, its just a matter of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and taking the leap.
Gentle Yoga Video
In this video you are walked through a number of gentle yoga poses for plus size people and obese people. These yoga moves are designed with the beginner and the less flexible people in mind. If you’ve been searching for a yoga video aimed at bigger bodies where the moves are achievable and you’re able to keep up with the demonstrator, this is the one.
Modifying Yoga Moves To Suit Heavier People
Don’t Let Being Overweight Put You Off Yoga
Even the most experienced yogis had a beginning….and a process. Heck, they may have even been morbidly obese when they first started. It’s very important that you don’t put yourself up against these people and start comparing. This is when negativity creeps in and can undo all your hard work.
Have respect and compassion for yourself as you begin this new chapter of health and fitness, and embrace all the lessons, mistakes, and inevitable progress that will be yours in the weeks and months to come. Namaste!