Do you have to be Slim to do Yoga?


There are a lot of myths about yoga: that you have to be flexible to do it, that it’s only for women, that once you reach a certain age you can’t do it..

One myth about yoga is that only slim people can practise. That’s perpetuated by the media. In yoga magazines  for example most of the photos you see are of thin ‘beautiful’ people and, come to that, most of them are young, white  and female (but that would be  the topic for another blog).

Some time ago a woman contacted me asking if yoga would be suitable for her  as she was a beginner, not very fit and also overweight. I told her unreservedly that yoga would suit her fine, that she was welcome and that hopefully she would really enjoy it.  A year later she still does.

In a yoga class people are all shapes and sizes and depending on their body shape and how they are made some postures are more tricky than others.  However there are two things to bear in mind here.

Firstly all postures can be modified. Take a posture  like Plank which is a press up position.  Some people have very little strength so they can work towards the full pose by dropping the  knees on the mat.  The there’s a posture like ‘Knee to the chest’ where you lie on the mat, bend one knee and draw it towards your body.  Some people are unable to comfortably reach the thigh to draw it towards them  -so they can hook a belt around the thigh and hold on to that.

Also no postures are compulsory.  In any one class you have people who are not comfortable lying on their front- or kneeling on the mat or doing a deep forward bend but there are always alternatives and nobody will think any less of you for missing something out or approaching it in a different way.  In fact that is the most sensible way of doing yoga -listening to the body, being aware and exploring to find out what suits you best. Any good teacher will be delighted to offer suggestions for adapting postures.

The other point to bear in mind is that  although the physical aspect of yoga seems like the most important part, particularly when you first start practising , it really isn’t. Postures are part of a holistic practice which  helps you to relax your mind, body and soul.

Each one of us is unique and beautiful and yoga is a way of giving ourselves the time and space to look after ourselves in a stressful world.  That’s an important message to remember.


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