A new trend is popping up everywhere: There are now entire studios devoted to yoga for overweight people. No skinny minnies allowed. Is the overweight train going too far?
When thinking of a yogi, you may immediately think long, lithe, agile ... thin. But these days, if you've ever entered any level yoga class, you would find an array of all kinds of people -- young and not so young, pregnant and not, tall and short, skinny and fat. Maybe in the case of the latter, not so extreme. Perhaps this is why "plus-sized" yoga studios are popping up everywhere: Mr. Hayes, a yoga instructor in Manhattan, only teaches big people and claims the concern of bigger people goes beyond the fact that they don't look the same way a skinny actress might, but that typical yoga classes "don't address the needs of big bodies. For example, forward bends and twists are hindered by extra girth." Helping students move better -- by "picking up and moving your belly fat out of the way" before getting into poses -- is what is being facilitated in these classes.
Hmm. Though certainly, most of us can relate to not looking like the skinny model or actress, or being as flexible as an Olympic athlete, is plus-sized yoga taking things just a little too far? Editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, Kelly McGonigal, thinks it's an unfortunate situation: "There's something wrong that we're doing as a community if people have to be shunted off to these classes designed for their size." Let's remember that the philosophy of yoga doesn't at all incorporate competition or weight loss -- it's simply a moving meditation that allows people to improve their overall physical and mental health, and the poses are geared for everyone.
Are separate yoga classes a good thing? If an overweight person feels too embarrassed about their size to attend a "regular" class, wouldn't that give them the opportunity to really embrace the yoga philosophy (rather than judge themselves and others), turn within, go at their own pace, and learn acceptance? Otherwise, we have a different issue on our hands, which hiding in a "plus-sized class" is not going to address.
Lastly, if someone is truly that uncomfortable, it might be time for more cardiovascular exercise to lose excess weight. Separating might just be skirting the issue ...
Do you think creating plus-size-only yoga classes is a good idea?
See Also:• Yoga Angst
• Practice Yoga for Better Orgasms
• Can Being Overweight Affect Fertility?
• Introducing Obese Barbie