Yoga is supposed to be a stress reliever, but how can you relax when you’re self-conscious about your size? What if you can’t physically do all the poses—and your instructor doesn’t provide modifications? These frustrations are among the reasons why yoga guru Anna Guest-Jelly started Curvy Yoga.
“Curvy Yoga classes are designed in every aspect of the class to meet the needs of bigger-bodied students,” Guest-Jelly says. “This includes framework issues such as how the room is set up and the language used. It also includes yoga pose issues such as how the class is sequenced and the number of options that are offered for each pose so that everyone can practice in a way that truly works for their body.” While Guest-Jelly is based in Nashville, Tenn., she also offers online certification for Curvy Yoga classes, so that interested yoga instructors nationwide can bring the technique to their communities. You can search on her website to find a class near you.
The idea of yoga designed for bigger bodies is catching on. Here are other yoga studios across the country offering similar classes:
The Yoga Center offers a Big A#%! Yoga class designed specifically for anyone who feels they are out of shape or plus size and would like to start yoga in an environment filled with people of similar body shape. Instructors teach poses compatible with bigger body types that will allow students to become stronger and more active as well as help them find their potential in their own yoga practice. This class will teach students to create a body-mind connection, all while strengthening and toning in a fun and comfortable environment.
Fat Yoga offers poses that are modified to each individual’s ability. The studio strives to create a non-competitive environment where bodies of all shapes and sizes can do every pose and enjoy the positive benefits of yoga. This particular studio isn’t focused on weight loss, but building strength, flexibility, balance and self-acceptance. They offer a special introductory series for newcomers and classes for students of every level and size.
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The Yoga Project
The Yoga Project, also in Portland, offers a Yoga for Larger Women program. Taught by Vilma Zaleskaite, co-director of The Yoga Project, includes retreats, private instructions, mentoring and classes. The two to four day retreats are open to women of all sizes for a weekend filled with relaxing yoga. The studio also offers private instruction and mentoring to ensure women feel completely comfortable before they enter their first yoga class.
Whole Life Yoga Studio
Whole Life Yoga offers specific yoga classes that target different issues, including Yoga for Round Bodies. The 6-week course is designed to help women improve the strength and resilience of their body. Instructor Patricia Hedtke specializes in spirituality and meditation. Her main purpose and goal in this class is to make yoga available and easier for larger, rounder body types.
Buddha Body Yoga
New York, N.Y.
Buddha Body Yoga studio specializes in taking standard poses and adjusting, modifying and adapting them accordingly to accommodate larger people. Students can sometimes find their own body being an obstacle. So to combat this, the studio focuses on improving student’s alignment, balance, flexibility and tone by using supportive yoga equipment like straps and blocks to allow students to do the poses without strain or difficulty.
Laughing River Yoga
Laughing River Yoga offers Buddha Body Yoga class, which specializes in providing a safe, non-judgmental environment for students of all sizes and genders. This class is for individuals who are hesitant to participate in yoga because of their weight or body shape. Buddha Body explores different modifications that support the body while nourishing the mind and spirit.