6 Tips for Choosing a Yoga Class When You’re in a Larger Body

by Rachel Holdgrafer, RYT 200

Everyone deserves the healing practice of yoga. But folks in larger bodies don’t always feel like yoga is for them.

Why I teach yoga for larger bodies

I started my 230-hour yoga teacher training (YTT) because I wanted to take control of my own practice. All too often teachers didn’t know how to help me and so I decided to figure it out for myself. Halfway through my YTT, I decided to teach. I figured I couldn’t be the only plus-sized person who wished they had a teacher with a body like theirs.

It’s no secret that Western yoga caters to a very specific body type. And according to traditional media outlets, yoga for fat people isn’t a thing. Except that it IS a thing. Larger bodied yoga practitioners have been coming to the mat for ages. And they continue to do so in growing numbers.

Rachel Holdgrafer, RYT 200, a plus-size yoga teacher, demonstrates extended triangle pose.

Finding the right class for you

So if you’re a fat person, a plus-sized person, a larger-bodied person who wants to try yoga, here are six tips on choosing the best yoga class for you.

  1. Find a yoga teacher in a larger body. In a perfect world, every yoga teacher would be able to teach any person who shows up in their class. The unfortunate reality is that many yoga teachers have no idea what to do with folks in larger bodies. Having never had abundant bellies, chests and legs themselves, these teachers may not know how to help you adapt poses to fit your body. And there is something super powerful about seeing a teacher like you at the front of the room.
  2. But don’t get hung up on body size—consider the teacher’s training too. Find a teacher who loves teaching, regardless of their body size and who has completed a training around adapting yoga for different body types such as: Yoga For All, Accessible Yoga or Opening Yoga. These certifications show the teacher’s commitment to making yoga accessible to all, regardless of age, size or ability.
  3. Wear something stretchy and comfortable. You don’t have to wear fancy spandex pants to do yoga. In fact, most of the world doesn’t!
  4. Consider a larger bodies only class. If you happen to live near a studio that offers a yoga class for larger bodies, go check it out. It’s pretty awesome to be in a room filled with bodies like yours, all doing yoga together. (I got teary-eyed in the first larger bodies class I took and I absolutely love teaching them!) These classes can be a great place to start if you’re uneasy walking into a regular drop-in class. They’re also a great way to develop a body-positive yoga community as you practice together over time!
  5. Skip the “no pain, no gain” classes. Yoga is about meeting yourself on the mat and joyfully connecting with the marvelous machine you live in. The Yoga Sutras state that if the practice isn’t both steady and comfortable, what you’re doing isn’t yoga. Look for a teacher who asks you to honor your body’s wisdom over a fixed idea about a pose or the practice.
  6. Find a yoga style that works for you. Plus-sized yogis practice all kinds of yoga. From rigorous vinyasa to Hatha to gentle yoga and Yin, there are lots of styles to choose from. Try out a few styles and when you find one you like, test drive a couple of teachers. The difference between a good teacher and a good teacher you connect with makes a huge difference in your experience.

If you want to practice yoga, the practice is for you, regardless of your size or ability. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Looking for a yoga class for larger bodies?

In the Minneapolis area and looking for a body-positive yoga class for yogis in larger bodies? I’d love it if you joined us for the next Big A#%! Yoga series!