5 Yoga Poses for Plus Size Beginners

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Most exercise programs and gyms can be intimidating to those of us who are bigger, heavier, or simply not in the best of shape.

Unfortunately, avoiding physical activity just exacerbates the problem, which is precisely why you’re now considering yoga. 

In all fairness, yoga can also be intimidating because of its association with skinny women who can strike seemingly impossible poses like contortionists.

In truth, that is a perception spawned through marketing and it doesn’t really reflect the full scope of yoga. Yoga includes a whole range of poses and there are also different types of yoga disciplines. You simply need to choose a practice that suits your body type and fitness level. 

Yoga Poses for Plus-Size Beginners

1. Mountain pose (Tadasana)

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet together, big toes touching each other, but the heels slightly apart.
  2. Tighten your thigh muscles or quadriceps and draw in your tummy slightly, while maintaining the natural curves of the spine.
  3. Allow your arms to remain by your sides, but stretch them as far down as possible, keeping the palms facing forward.
  4. Make sure that to keep your chin facing ahead and draw your shoulder blades up and forward, then rolling back to release them down your back. 
  5. Maintain the posture for at least half a minute before moving to the next pose.

How it helps:

At first glance the mountain pose may seem like simply standing motionless, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. This is an important starting point for anyone taking up yoga as it is the foundation for all other standing poses.

It is commonly used as a transition or resting pose in most yoga routines. It’s also the ideal pose for a plus-size beginner because of its simplicity and wide ranging benefits.

The mountain pose emphasizes and improves your posture, relieves sciatica or lower back pain, and strengthens the legs. 

The mountain pose is one of several poses used in a yoga routine that was shown to be helpful even in the management of hyperkyphosis, a condition in which there is an abnormal spine curvature.

2. Tree pose (Vrksasana)

Tree pose yoga

How to do it:

  1. Hold the mountain pose, but instead of keeping both feet firmly planted to the ground, move your weight onto the left foot.
  2. Raise your right foot, bending the right knee.
  3. Extend the right hand to grab the raised foot, guiding it into place so that it rests on the inner left thigh.
  4. The left sole should now be resting lengthwise across the right inner thigh, with the toes pointing down to the floor.
  5. Then, raise both hands by bending at the elbows, so that the palms are brought together before your chest as if in prayer.
  6. Hold the position for half a minute, then switch to the other foot and repeat for another 30 seconds before returning to the mountain pose. 

How it helps:

Aside from the fact that this pose can offer plenty of entertainment with many yogis falling over from time to time, there are many reasons why it’s included in most beginner yoga routines.

It’s easy enough to learn, but takes practice to master. Standing on one leg is challenging, but it is one of the best ways to improve your balance.

The pose also has a strengthening effect on the legs and core muscles, opening up the hips and stretching the thigh and groin muscles. 

Because of these health benefits, the tree pose is often used in physical therapy programs and is now being studied for possible benefits to osteoporosis patients. 

3. Standing forward fold (Uttanasana)

Standing Forward Fold Yoga Pose

How to do it:

  1. While standing in the mountain pose, bring your hands to rest on your hips, striking the ‘Superman’ pose.
  2. Engage the core muscles and bend forward from the hips, keeping the back completely straight while doing so.
  3. Try to keep your legs as straight as possible and lower your hands, bringing the palms to rest on the floor beside or in front of your feet. 
  4. As a beginner it will be challenging to bend enough to allow the palms to rest on the floor, in which case you can use blocks.
  5. Dig your heels into the ground and tighten the quadriceps, pushing your buttocks upwards. 
  6. Hold the pose for half a minute and then return to the mountain pose.

How it helps:

The standing forward fold isn’t the easiest pose if you’re not flexible, but it’s an important pose in any beginner routine. The flexibility required to go deep into the pose only comes with practice, but that’s why you should begin now.

The pose helps stretch and lengthen the hamstring and calf muscles, easing muscular tension in the legs. Just as importantly, you’ll learn a thing or two about patience. 

4. Plank pose (Dandasana)

plank yoga pose variations

How to do it:

  1. You can start by lying flat on your tummy and then raising the upper body with your arms.
  2. Your palms should be firmly planted on the ground, resting directly beneath the shoulders.
  3. Your lower body should be grounded only with the toes, while the glutes must be tightened to stabilize your body.
  4. Your entire body should be completely straight, and the hips should not sink as this can put excess pressure on the lower back.
  5. Stay in this posture for at least half a minute and then move to the child’s pose.

How it helps:

The plank pose is important for beginners because it helps prepare and develop the upper body strength required for more advanced arm-balancing poses.

Its main benefits are that it strengthens the core, shoulders, and spine, while stretching the hamstring and calf muscles. Along with the mountain pose, plank pose was another posture included in a study that showed yoga to be beneficial for spinal and upper body flexibility in women over 50 years of age. 

5. Child’s pose (Balasana)

Child's yoga Pose

How to do it:

  1. From the plank pose, lower the knees so that they come to rest on the floor and raise your chest.
  2. Move the knees apart to almost reach the sides of your yoga mat, but keep your feet together.
  3. Once your legs are in place, bend forward so that your arms are fully extended, allowing the palms to rest on the floor. 
  4. Your belly should now be resting between the thighs, while your forehead can rest on the floor.
  5. Stay in the pose for half a minute, just focusing on your breathing while doing so.

How it helps:

Like the mountain pose, the child’s pose is often used as a resting or cool down pose. As a plus-size beginner, this is one of the best poses with which to end your yoga session. It’s one of the most relaxing poses that gently stretches the back, thighs, hips, and ankles. 

Getting Started with Yoga

To begin, look for qualified yoga instructors in your area, focusing on those who provide training for bigger bodied or plus-sized students.

If you can’t find plus-size yoga classes, consider the yoga style or discipline being taught instead. Hatha yoga, vinyoga, or integral yoga are good options for plus-sized beginners.

If you’re self-conscious and awkward about participating in group sessions, you can also consider private yoga classes.

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