With all the stress we dump on ourselves, in addition to sedentary lifestyles and the regular wear and tear of everyday life, our bodies become achy, tight, and sore. The average person deals with it, avoiding proper recovery methods that work to increase mobility and decrease tension. Yoga is one of the most readily available techniques to increase flexibility and give the body a break from being overworked. How many people take advantage of yoga, though?
When you think about yoga, the image that sticks in your mind is a beautiful, physically fit woman in tight clothing performing tree pose or downward dog. Advertisements, yoga tutorials, and more have made it abundantly clear that yoga is for fit women with perfect bodies, but buying into that nonsense is why most plus-size women avoid yoga classes. The beauty of yoga is that anyone, no matter the gender, shape, age, or size, can participate because there are modifications for each pose. Not every pose is about contorting your body into a pretzel.
Sure, it can be intimidating to enter a yoga class filled with these fit yoga goddesses in skin-tight athletic attire, but yoga is an individual experience, despite the group setting. Only do what you are comfortable doing, and don’t push the body into pain just to keep up with the others in the class. Statistically, more people are likely to injure themselves when they attempt yoga poses that they aren’t ready to perform. Doing a yoga pose incorrectly is one of the easiest ways to cause more damage to the body.
If you are a plus size woman who is hesitant about trying a yoga class, don’t be. Mainstream representation of “the ideal yoga body” is not a correct one because anyone can do yoga. Nonetheless, if you are shy about your curves, many online videos or classes exist. Follow along with these classes, or start with the five poses below. Don’t be afraid to reduce stress, tension, and pain in the body.
Standing Forward Bend
This is a great warm-up pose that helps to stretch out the hamstrings and lower back. Stand up straight with your feet hip-distance apart. Slowly bend forward, hinging at the hips, keeping your back as straight as possible. If you can reach the floor, fantastic! If you can’t reach the floor, do not worry because you can use a yoga block or chair to support yourself. Always remember to keep the back straight for maximum the hamstring stretch.
Tight hips can lead to sharp pains at different areas in the body, and they are a common concern for many people who enter yoga classes. Pigeon pose is a great remedy for this, but it can be challenging on the front knee. Begin on the hands and knees, and slowly bend your right foot and bring it forward through your hands. Lean the outside of your leg on the ground and extend the left leg backward, toes facing down. If you are a beginner, place a chair in front of you, lean forward, and rest in this position for a few breaths. You can put a pillow under your right knee if it isn’t touching the floor. Repeat with the other leg.
Increase your balance by practicing tree pose. Because tree pose can be difficult to do for beginners, and hard for people with knee pain, modify the position by standing straight up with your back against the wall, feet hip-distance apart. Bend your right knee slightly and bring your heel to touch the inside of your ankle, the ball of your right foot still on the mat. Your foot is almost like a kickstand in this position. Take a few breaths and then repeat with the other foot. Standing in this position gets you used to it, and you’ll be placing your entire foot on your inner calf and standing freely before you know it.
Need to eliminate some back pain? Stretch out your chest and back by practicing camel pose. Start with your knees on the ground, about hip-distance apart, with your back straight. Slowly bend backward and grab your right ankle with your right hand before grabbing your left ankle with your left hand. Lift your chest towards the sky, arching your back and supporting yourself with your hands on your ankles. Take few breaths in this pose before returning to the starting position.
Reclined Big Toe
Start this pose by laying flat on your back. Bend your right knee toward your chest, leaving the left leg extended. Grab a towel or stretching band and strap it around the center of your right foot, holding onto either end of the band or towel. Slowly straighten your right leg towards the ceiling, keeping the bottom of your foot facing up. Pull on the towel or band to stretch your calf and hamstring. Remain in this position for a few breaths before returning to the starting position and repeating with the other leg.