Yoga for Large Bodies

by Melissa West on July 2, 2013

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How to help larger people when teaching Yoga

Yoga-for-Large-BodiesToday’s question comes to us from the membership site from Amanda:

Melissa, I’m currently leading a yoga class to staff members at the high school where I work. My 200 hour training at Kripalu didn’t encompass any training on modifications for larger bodies. One of my yoginis is not only very stiff, she sits all day (secretary), and has difficulty with many moves. I’ve got her comfortable with using a chair for a prop, which is great. My next step is figuring out how to help her when we’re down on our bellies. She says that is very uncomfortable for her.

Do you have any suggestions for me to help her still get the benefit of backbends and such (sphinx, superman, etc)?


This is a great question. The first thing to ask yourself is What is your intention? In the continuing education course for teachers, we start with intention, what is my intention? My intention here is to get her to do a backbend. Well, then it isn’t really necessary for her to lie on the ground on her belly if she is uncomfortable, is it? She could do a backbend from a different position.

My first thought is to keep the shape – the backbend, from a different orientation to gravity. Your intention was to have her do a backbend with her belly on the floor. Remember the wall makes a great vertical floor when gravity acting on the body is just too much on the floor. So I would have her do sphynx and superman facing the wall rather than on the floor. We explore poses like this in our Off the Wall Yoga class available in my shop and on the membership site.


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