When you picture a yoga student, what kind of person pops into your mind? If you’re like most of us, you probably imagine a young, slender, athletic woman, twisting herself into a pretzel, with a serene look on her face.
On the surface, there is nothing wrong with this picture. After all, yoga really does have the power to transform your body and mind. The problem comes when we prevent ourselves from getting involved with something because of embarrassment or false expectations.
Let’s clear the air. Yoga is not just for super skinny people. Nor should it be reserved for people in their 20s or 30s. In fact, you could make an argument that we older women could benefit the most from yoga.
As one of my yoga instructors once said…
Yoga is a personal journey, not a competition.
So, don’t let your perceptions about the “average” yoga student prevent you from participating in this potentially life changing activity. Your life journey is unique as is your body. Let’s embrace both, curves and all.
If you are a bit on the curvy side and are on the fence regarding whether to give yoga a shot, I hope that the following will give you several reasons to get started with this life changing activity.
There are so many benefits to yoga that I almost don’t know where to start. One of the most obvious is that yoga energizes and strengthens your core body. In this way, it is the perfect counter-balance to our often sedentary lifestyles. For those of us that are a little on the large size, it can be a perfect way to “ease” our way back into a more active life.
Yoga practice also increases body awareness and improves breathing. In other words, it gets you in touch with your body, breathing and heartbeat. One of my instructors once described yoga as “moving meditation.” It certainly feels this way. Regardless of your personal spiritual beliefs, it is a way to appreciate the connection between your mind, body and soul.
On a more practical level, yoga is claimed to help lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Since everyone’s body is different, it’s worth asking your doctor if yoga should be a part of your overall diet and exercise plan.
Many yoga studies have begun to offer classes specifically for plus sized women. But, if you’re still not ready to join a group class, you can always consider having a few private lessons and then practicing yoga in the comfort of your home. Once you get the hang of it, you may find that you are comfortable joining that group class after all.
Don’t believe anyone who tells you that yoga can’t help you to lose weight. Yoga helps you keep off the pounds in two ways. First, it helps you to burn calories, which is an essential component of losing weight. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it gives you the flexibility and pain relief that you need to live a more active life.
When your body feels good, you feel good – and this has an impact on every aspect of your daily routine.
Yoga is fundamentally about connecting with yourself. It offers a fascinating journey into our bodies and minds. If you are a little on the heavy side, one of your greatest barriers to getting healthy may, ironically, be your body image.
When you are ashamed of how you look, you are less likely to take the steps that you need to in order to live a healthier life. You will stay at home more, walk less and avoid sports and other activities. Yoga is a great motivator and confidence builder. It encourages us to become familiar with our bodies. It asks us to accept and love ourselves.
If you’re looking for a little extra motivation, I encourage you to check out a great website, called Curvy Yoga. It was started by a teacher named Anna Guest-Jelley, who took up yoga after 65 diets failed to work for her. Instead of beating herself up for not looking “thin enough,” Anna quickly discovered that yoga gave her a new appreciation of who she was. It helped her to accept herself as a larger woman and reconnect with her body.
If you are unable to find a yoga class for plus size women, consider starting your own group sessions with like-minded friends. Check out resources like Curvy Yoga’s video classes and our Sixty and Me Gentle Yoga video course with 8 gentle yoga sequences.
Most of all, don’t hide yourself away from the benefits of this wonderful practice. No-one’s body is “perfect.” We are all on a journey to discover and celebrate everything that our bodies can do. I genuinely hope that you give yoga a try. You won’t regret it.
Have you tried yoga? What was your experience? What do you think of the trend towards yoga studios offering classes specifically for plus sized women? What could yoga studios do to be more welcoming to women of ALL body sizes? Please add your thoughts in the comments section below and remember to check out our gentle yoga video series that we filmed in beautiful Bali.
Tags Yoga for Seniors