If you have not tried yoga and think that yoga is only for people with thin bodies, think again!
Yoga will help you to embrace your curves as it will help you to focus on how your body feels and not how it looks. Studies report that women who do yoga have better self-esteem and fewer eating disorders than those who stay in shape by running or attending gym classes. And regular practice of the asanas (poses) may in fact lower blood pressure, improve circulation and balance and build strength. Yoga also develops peace of mind, self-acceptance and greater body awareness.
Plus-size instructor Megan Garcia has modified poses in her book MegaYoga (DK, 2006) and these four, common in yoga classes, account for ample body parts.
1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Effect: Wide knees in this relaxing, back-stretching pose allow for deep breathing.
How to: Drop your hips to your heels, spreading your knees wide enough to make room for your chest and belly. Reach your arms forward, and rest your forehead down. If your head doesn’t reach the floor, stack your fists, and place your forehead on them. If your knees hurt, place a pillow on top of your calves, and sit back on it.
2. Dolphin Pose
Effect: An alternative to Headstand and Downward Dog, Dolphin increases blood flow to the brain, opens shoulders and upper back, and stretches hamstrings.
How to: Begin on your hands and knees. Lower your elbows to the mat directly under your shoulders. Rest your forearms on the floor, and clasp your hands. Exhale as you lift your hips up toward the ceiling, straightening your legs and lowering your heels as close to the floor as possible. Take five deep breaths, and release your head and neck completely.
Breast-Binding Tip: A yoga strap can keep your breasts from falling into your face when you’re upside down. Buckle the strap into a loop; slip it over your head and shoulders and under your armpits. Tighten the loop so it compresses the breasts and won’t slip during the inversion.
3. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Effect: Strength and balance without knee strain; promotes confidence
How to: Position a chair to your right with the seat facing away from you. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, right hand on the chair. Exhaling, lunge your left leg back to a wide, but comfortable distance. Face forward. Keep your right foot parallel to the mat’s edges and pigeon-toe your left foot in slightly, resting your right hand on the chair for balance. Bend your right knee deeply (your knee should not come forward of your ankle) and look straight ahead or over your right arm. Hold the pose for five breaths. Repeat on the other side.
4. Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
Effect: Opens hips, improves balance, builds leg and core strength
How to: Start with your back against a wall. Put a yoga block in front of your right foot, and step your feet apart, turning your right foot out 90 degrees (parallel to the wall). Bend your right knee; pick up a block with your right hand and move it about a foot in front of your right leg, against the wall. With most of your weight on your right leg, simultaneously straighten that leg and raise your left leg up until it’s parallel to the floor (if possible). Your left leg, hips, shoulders, and head should rest against the wall. Reach your left arm up toward the ceiling, and turn your belly and chest toward the ceiling, too. Look up at your left hand or straight ahead. Breathe here for five breaths and repeat on other side.
Tip: For extra support, use a chair instead of a block, resting your hand on the seat.
Learn more about how to modify yoga poses for larger bodies by reading this article from ehow.