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Plus-Sized Yoga Classes -- Seriously?!

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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?

obese woman doing yoga

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


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56 comments so far | Post a comment now
jackie May 17, 2009, 9:47 PM

EW plus sized yoga classes so they can move their extra fat and geta good stretch ? Whatever happened to a good old treadmill????

In all honesty, I think this is really sad, it’s not going to help them lose weight to be in a class which goes at a snails pace—if you’ve got that much fat that you need to “move it out of the way” chances are you are unhealthy.

Go on a diet and eat a salad.

abbi May 17, 2009, 11:10 PM

Fat people should feel uncomfortable.
It’s a proven studied fact that one of the reason people are so predisposed to hating fat is because it’s viewed as a virus, an attack on our healthy bodies, and invader, it’s ugly and looks like a disease and that’s why people don’t want to associate with fatties.
people relate being fat as the same on a disgust level as open facial sores, or warts. look it up.
anyway, because this is a NATURAL reaction, fat people should feel uncomfortable in their own skin, they should feel awkward and wanting to be in a prime position.
I don’t think having a class catering to fatties will make them more motivated to move, it will make them accecpt their lazy fatness more, who goes to the gym, sees the fat girl on the treadmill going -2 mph and wants to be like her? no one, you guys need us skinny minnies to push yourselves to be better.

Anonymous May 18, 2009, 12:15 AM

leave those beef wagons alone,

Sunspot Baby May 18, 2009, 12:18 AM

The picture looks photo shopped. It’s a s skinny girl’s head on a fat body.

Maeby May 18, 2009, 11:06 AM

as an average size woman i think this is a great idea. i’ve been big and i’ve been small and i know that when i was heavier it was SO hard for me to exercise in front of smaller people. it made me feel bad and gross and fat and not worthy of being in their gym. i think its great that heavier women want to get active. if they need to do it in more comfortable settings, so be it! what the hell do you care? Seriously, you dont. at all. unless you want to feel better about yourself by being the thin one in a group of fatties(btw, we hate that)

Barb May 18, 2009, 11:32 AM

There are different classes for various levels of expertise, right? For example, beginner yoga, advanced, etc. So why not cater to people in this group, who, it sounds, need different instruction than others?

barbara May 18, 2009, 12:09 PM

i think it would be a great idea,because some of us heavy women would rather be there to do are thing instead of worring about other people watching us and judgeing us and yes even laughing at us.

aerialla May 18, 2009, 2:18 PM

Hey abbi the last time I looked Anorexia and Bulimia are also diseases. I guess for you beauty is looking like a walking mummified corpse. NO THANKS! I’d rather have some extra cushion than have people able to use me as a living skeleton complete with yellow skin, my hair falling out and my organs failing because my body has decided to eat itself to stay alive. I’m plus size and have a more healthy outlook on weight and body issues than my size 0 sister who spends hours on her treadmill only to go out binge eating and then locks herself in the restaurant bathroom so she can throw up. One last thing put a picture up of a plus size woman compared to a skinny woman and start taking a poll to see who is healthier and more attractive. Start in America and then take it thoughout the world. Weight is looked at different in other countries. It is only in America where we tend to harbor such ill will against people of different sizes. Abbi I feel sorry for you, ignorance and small mindedness are also diseases. Maybe you should seek help for yours.

RedsterLA May 18, 2009, 4:36 PM

For those who are against the rights of people of ALL sizes to have adequate access to the kinds of programs that work best for THEM:

Richard Simmons built his entire industry on catering to fat folks and their differing needs in an exercise program. You couldn’t get into his first classes on Little Santa Monica Blvd. if you weren’t at least 50 pounds ‘overweight’ at the start. Why? Because he knew that exercise programs for fat people differ from those for skinny people for a variety of reasons.

There is NOTHING wrong with having different kinds of exercise programs available for folks of varying sizes, fitness, levels and abilities. Do you want to stop the ‘chair aerobics’ classes for the elderly who can’t jump around in a regular class? How about the weight lifting programs for those in wheelchairs who need to build upper body strength? Do you want a beginner in an advanced class who can’t keep up and endangers their health by trying to do too much too fast? The advanced in a beginner’s class being frustrated at how ‘slow’ everyone else is? What about women-only gyms? Men-only workout classes? Do you want to deny everyone their CHOICE as to where they can go to work out? If you don’t like the idea of a fat yoga class (or don’t need it) then DON’T GO.

And as for the whole concept of all yogis and meditative ‘holy men’ as emaciated ascetics? Think again. One look at ancient statues of The Buddha refutes that argument. Also, one of the foremost 20th-century yogis chose to present himself with a less-than svelte body (read “Autobiography of a Yogi” and you’ll find out why (http://www.yogananda-srf.org/images/paramahansa.jpg).

We come in all shapes, sizes & abilities and deserve the right to health at ANY and EVERY size — and that includes access to (and participation in) the programs that help us to achieve that worthwhile goal.

RachelAZ May 18, 2009, 4:51 PM

I don’t see the problem with this. They’re exercising so who cares?!

Disbelief May 18, 2009, 5:20 PM

I find it interesting that whoever wrote this piece of crap didn’t have the courage to sign their name to it. Where’s the byline?

jackie May 18, 2009, 6:32 PM

Disbelief-
what a strong reaction, defensive about something?

it’s not an article that needs a byline when it has quotes from reputable journals.

Momlogic is simply educating us-nothing wrong with that!

Disbelief May 18, 2009, 10:01 PM

Wow, you really do need some education. You might want to look elsewhere because this site won’t do it for you.

Disbelief May 18, 2009, 10:03 PM

Wow, you really do need some education. You might want to look elsewhere because this site won’t do it for you.

Lesleigh May 19, 2009, 3:28 AM

How is fat yoga “segregation”? Does anyone get bent out of shape about Curves, which caters to women? I think it’s pretty obvious that women need a space away from men’s ogling eyes; likewise, as is apparent from the sizeist commentary I’ve read, so do fat people need a space away from judgmental thin persons (ahem). If it’s a “segregation” that the oppressed folks choose, why get your panties in a twist? (Maybe b/c that’s not the real issue? Maybe b/c it’s nicer, more PC packaging for one’s sizeism?)

Tell ya what: You judgmental thin folks mind your business and stop presuming you know anything about my lifestyle and health levels and I’ll think about joining you sometime soon in an *integrated* yoga club.

amused May 24, 2009, 8:22 AM

I would do it. nothing wrong with it.

amelia June 2, 2009, 7:35 PM

You know, it is amazing to me what hatred comes out of people’s mouths. Just because you can tell right away by looking at someone overweight that they are unhealthy. What about the smokers? You cant tell they smoke just by looking at them,and they share the second hand smoke with us. What about violent people? They affect people negatively. Overweight people have their faults but they aren’t hurting anyone but themselves. Why so angry? Did you ever think that one of the reasons these people are fat is because people are so critical of them and that they don’t want to go out in public to excercise classes, etc. It is an endless cycle. Where’s the love people?

sojourner June 14, 2009, 1:18 PM

You “fat bashers” make me sick. Who are you to judge. If you have never had a weight problem then don’t give advice to “just lose weight” if you aren’t comfortable around thin people exercising. I want to practice yoga to help with balance issues I have and I am in the process of losing weight. The reality is I can’t do some of the moves that skinnies do, hence my search for a video for the overweight who desire to practice yoga. So to the self righteous I say SHUT UP because if you haven’t walked a mile in my shoes you have no right to judge.

Adrian July 2, 2009, 12:51 AM

Good Day. Real love is a permanently self-enlarging experience.
I am from Botswana and now teach English, tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “Antiques expert judith miller gives a prep talk for the world best flea markets.”

Thank you very much :p. Adrian.

Anna September 5, 2009, 11:24 PM

I am as one might say a “skinny minnie”. today, i am 5’8 and weigh 123 pounds I look healthy and guess what? I am. I eat a balanced diet with plenty of carbs and excercise regularly. previously i suffered from depression and went up to 135 pounds and felt uncomfortable and bloated, why? because i wasent healthy. yea, 135 is considered more healthy by the standards then my current weight but you cant go by statistics because every woman is different. My best freind is technically over weight and is in better shape then me and many others i know. what woman need to do is listen to their bodies a ask themselves if they are at their best. Therefore, I think this excercise program is a good idea because all woman are different and need programs to fit their needs as healthy… or unhealthy indiviuals.


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