Fat is Flexible: Plus size bodies can do yoga too!

Plus Size Bodies Can Yoga Too!

Hey guys! It’s Monday and I thought today we would talk about somebody image issues. I’ve always had this issue with being afraid to do things due to my size. I’ve missed out on so much that life has to offer because I thought “I’m too fat!” or “I won’t fit”. The embarrassment and shame of living in a big body can stop you from enjoying so much of life. One of those things for me was doing things like yoga. Well, guess what folks, I’m going to bust that misconception wide open. Fat IS flexible, plus-size bodies can do yoga too!

That’s right. It doesn’t matter if you have some junk in the trunk, some jelly in the belly, or even if you don’t think you are strong enough. Trust me you can be flexible too! I’ll even let you in on a little secret, this fat girl did a hot yoga session in front of other people in a yoga studio once.  Yep, I swallowed my fear and went for it. I had never felt better when I left that studio an hour later. 

The 2 Myths that Stop us from trying

 It’s not hard to understand why people of bigger sizes don’t try things like yoga as often. I mean the stretchy, skin tight pants. The mirrors everywhere! Not to mention the idea of contorting our bodies into new stretchy shapes. Bodies that already don’t move like smaller flexible bodies do.  There are so many fears and myths that pop into our heads when we think about trying something new like that. Let’s break some of them down.

Myth#1 – Everyone is going to stare at you

This was a hard concept for me when going into a yoga studio with my friend the first time.  See, like many other people out there, I am incredibly shy and self-conscious when it comes to my body. It took me an hour of crying in my car to force myself to go into a gym for the first time. Shame does that. Fear steals our motivation. 

 We feel as if we don’t belong where the healthy people are.  It’s not that we may not be healthy already or we don’t have the desire to be healthy. No in fact it’s more along the lines that we judge ourselves so harshly that it is automatic for us to believe that everyone else is judging us too. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. I remember going to the gym that first time, walking in so afraid people would make fun of me. I was afraid to look people in the eye. What if I saw the question of “what the hell is SHE doing here?” that must surely be written on their faces.  Truth was, no one paid me any mind. The fact is, once I relaxed I realized no one cared what I was doing. Matter of fact, after 3 months of solid weight lifting I started to receive random High-fives and got to know other weight lifters as they saw me trying every single day. As I gained more confidence and grew physically stronger, faces became familiar and I suddenly stopped feeling like I didn’t belong.

Myth#2 – My body can’t do that

We set so many limitations on ourselves, not truly knowing the greatness that we are capable of. One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is “my body can’t do that”.  Poppycock! Yeah I said it, and I’ll say it again, THAT IS POPPYCOCK!  You really don’t know what your body can or can’t do until you try it.  It’s that little mean inner critic inside your head telling you are physically unable to do things, and we BELIEVE IT!

Fat is flexible, plus-size bodies CAN do yoga too. Yes, the voice in my head told me the first time “you can’t even touch your toes, fatty, what makes you think you can do ANYTHING in the realm of yoga poses”

What’s worse is that I believed that mean little voice for years.  Then I stumbled upon something called Just My Size Yoga With Megan Garcia. (I believe you can still find it on amazon). It was my first dive into the world of yoga and being able to push and challenge my body on a new level. 

Yes, there are some things you won’t be able to do at first. Like anything else, it takes time and practice. Most importantly, it takes courage to be willing to quiet that voice and trust your body to move and flow in ways that will surprise you.  The first time I did hot yoga, I remember walking into the studio with my friend.  I was nervous because I was by far the biggest body in the room. At the start of the class, when we did a forward fold I could only get my fingers to touch my shins. I just couldn’t stretch any further. Imagine my shock at the end of the class, when I looked down, in a bent-over position and my palms were flat on the floor!  Fat IS flexible, and you never know what your body can do until you try!

stop living life on autopilot

“We set so many limitations on ourselves, not truly knowing the greatness that we are capable of.”

You don’t know what you don’t know!

When I first started doing yoga, I didn’t know there were tools available that could help a beginner or plus size body do stretches and poses.  I struggled with some positions, some stances and poses. Stretching to touch my toes was impossible. My belly got in the way when I tried to bring my knees to my chest.  So I did what I could. I held the downward facing dog until my arms buckled and my wrists hurt. Likewise, I worked on breathing when there was a pose I couldn’t perform. One thing I didn’t do was give up  

There is a tool for that!

I didn’t know there were tools out there that would help turn me into a better plus-size yogi! Tools such as foam blocks for stability and able to get deeper stretches. Or Yoga straps! Oh lord can I just tell you how amazing a stretch can feel when you pull it a little deeper with a strap! My point is simply I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  Yet the more I encouraged myself to keep practicing, working my way up to even going to a class with other people around, the more I opened myself up to knowledge.

 Currently, I do yoga stretching every morning from home. Using videos I found on Youtube. Although, if I do go to a class I am not embarrassed to ask for help or use those tools to better my body and my stretches.  I don’t see it as me being different or inexperienced

Now I won’t say I never felt that way. When I was first introduced to a yoga strap I felt a moment of shame at being different from everyone else in the class. Then, I felt the deeper stretch I got from the added help and all the worries of others imagined judgments flew out of my head. Mind you those judgments I was imagining, were truly just my inner critic trying to stifle me.

So what should you do if you want to give yoga a try?

If you’ve been toying with the idea of giving yoga a try my advice is to just do it! Don’t be afraid, and don’t let that little voice scare you away.  If you want to try practicing at home first then my suggestion is to go onto youtube and search for “plus size yoga” or “yoga for bigger bodies” and even “beginners yoga”  

Here is the one I’ve been doing for a few months now. The Yoga Room (Round Rock Tx). The instructor does a wonderful job of explaining the poses and doing moderations for easier or harder applications. The best part for me was the person demonstrating the poses in the video is a woman around my size and shape.  I have been doing a variation of her videos. Some for back, some for weight loss, and some for just moderate stretching. I highly recommend these videos for anyone looking to give yoga a try!

Another thing I would suggest is go to a local store and pick up some yoga helpers. Such as a few foam blocks, a mat of course, and a yoga strap. You may not need them for some of the beginner stretches and positions but if you are anything like me and struggle with touching the floor, or getting your knees to your chest these tools are KEY

Ask for help!

If you choose to dive in and go to a class with a friend, or even by yourself, talk to the instructor beforehand. Tell them this is your first class and you are feeling a bit nervous and ask for help.  I’ve done this, and the instructor helped me with poses and modifications using tools and my own body. Trust me though, you will be pleasantly surprised at what your body is willing to do if you give it the mental and emotional support it needs to try new things. 

It just takes courage

Nothing is achieved if we don’t find the courage within us to try something new. Don’t be afraid, and please don’t limit yourself to the labels of your body image. Just because you may have some extra weight does not limit your abilities to explore. Plus-size bodies can do yoga! You will love what your body can do for you. It will encourage you to try more new things and build on your own experiences. Furthermore, as you open up new doors for yourself, the confidence you build from trying these new things will truly help you love the body you live in. That is one of the most important gifts we can ever give ourselves. The ability to love the body you live in.  So until next time my wonderful friends, remember you are NEVER alone, and be safe!

 

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Amber

Tired of battling low self-esteem, zero self-worth, and an emotional eating addiction, Amber created Amberable to share her journey with those who may be struggling. Hoping to empower, inspire and heal others like herself