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Full-Figure Yoga for EveryBODY

in YD News

Trisha Townes teaches Full-Figure Yoga at Harlem Yoga Studio in NYC. ABC News is all over it.

What makes Full-Figure yoga different? Trisha says it’s modifications and making everyone feel welcomed.

From the Harlem Yoga Studio:

Full Figured Yoga:  A basic Hatha Yoga Class adapted for the larger, curvier adult or teen.  Yoga is a wonderful way to improve the strength and flexibility of EVERYbody, while relaxing your mind and opening your heart.  In this class classic postures are adapted to be comfortable and accessible for larger bodies.

Do these specialized classes for Men or for Full-Figured folks help to unite or separate the yoga community?



23 comments… add one
  • lucy

    I think it is great, it would be nice to integrate it all but clearly some people don’t feel comfortable in ‘typical’ classrooms. Also, and I include myself in this, many teachers are ill prepared for a full figured person to walk through the door into their classes. It is up to us to seek out information and modifications for our poses but sometimes it has happened, gasp, that I find myself unprepared for a new situation that walks through the door. I think it is great that someone is taking the time not just to understand how this changes the practice but to develop an entire class where people don’t have to hear, “let’s modify this, lets modify that.”


  • Samantha

    When I first heard about yoga classes for full figured/rounded bodied/ curvy practitioners, my first thought was that there are no possible downsides. Since actually attending these classes, reading about modifications, etc I am much more conflicted.
    I am an overweight yoga practitioner, and I’m about to start my teacher training in Vinyasa yoga soon. As a healthy, young individual, I was able to start with a gentle hatha class, and move to even the most difficult Ashtanga, general Vinyasa, and Baptiste flows. There are many poses that would be easier if I were a bit thinner, but I find that my strength and flexibility tend to compensate, giving me the ability to do inversions, arm balances, and other challenging poses.
    I feel torn because while I love that yoga specifically for overweight people can be a nonthreatening place to start, it can also send the message that if you’re overweight, you can only do restorative styles of yoga. Everyone comes to yoga with their own challenges and abilities. I don’t think overweight people as a group are any different than any other student, or even have that much in common in terms of their physical abilities. Some may be out of shape, but so are many thin people. The biggest difference is that we are larger in certain places than other people. For me, this means that I sometimes keep my feet hip distance apart in utkatasana instead of putting them together. As an overweight person, I’ve had to find some modifications for myself by exploring what works and what doesn’t work in my body. I have different challenges than someone who has weight in a different place, or someone with an injury, or arthritis, or is much older than me. I’m glad classes like that give people who would otherwise be afraid to try yoga the chance to practice in a safe space. However, I would remind teachers to see each student who walks into his or her class as an individual, and not to imagine that you understand the student’s potential and limitations before getting to know them. I go to many all level classes, and I think reminding students to honor their bodies, teaching them modifications that can fit into any class (and thus not affect more advanced students) and telling them to rest when necessary can make your classes work for everyone.

    • David-also

      Well. I meant my first comment as a reply to Samantha. I need a nap.

  • David-also

    Good, thoughtful advice.

  • Julie

    Awesome! Now, where do us tall, curvy, big-chested girls go to find cute yogawear??

    • JeffreyD

      Don’t. The worst part about yoga is the idea that you have to buy a hundred dollar outfit and spend one or two hundred dollars a month on class fees just to do a series of bodyweight exercises.

      To me it seems like overweight people have about the same yoga-goals as people who aren’t overweight, they just may have difficulties in holding certain positions or general athleticism. They could just as easily do a less-advanced class intended for all students.

      • Yogini5

        Only if that class includes extensive pranayama—JUST like the littler adults’ classes do!

        Don’t treat us advanced beginners as lacking in the spirituality department. That is Ashtanga-derived snobbery that has little to no place in your classes.

        I have put my body (which is technically not plus-size) through HELL sometimes (some of it due to pushy teachers grabbing me) getting a little of the good stuff reserved for the conically-shaped STRONG larger men and women and the smaller than U.S.-average sized in the All-Level classes …

      • Joyce

        As another big-chested girl that does yoga, I think Julie’s question is a good one . It’s hard to find tops that cover properly and don’t continually ride up. I guess it’s her use of the ‘cute’ that threw you off. Maybe I’m putting words into her mouth, but I know for me, good yoga tops are a struggle.

        As for the general article, I think it’s helpful to have classes geared towards certain people if it gets them in the door. You can only hope they will then want to join the larger community. Also, having a teacher be prepared with modifications is wonderful. I know a lot of times I have to struggle a bit to figure out what can work for me with certain poses, when my chest gets in the way.

        • Vicki

          Hi Joyce,

          One thing that works for large breasts is to take a yoga strap around the tops of your breasts, under the arm pits, around the back. This way the breast tissue does not ride up and constrict breathing. However, it can be a bit embarrassing for some to have to do this in a mainstream class. See the book I posted below by Megan Garcia called Mega Yoga. I hope that helps.


          • As a fellow plus-sized yoga instructor and student, I find Megan Garcia’s yoga strap of doom inhibits my full expansion of breath. My one super-splurge was a good sports bra, an Enell. All my yoga clothes come from Target and Old Navy.

    • Vicki

      I am a plus size yoga teacher. I love the clothes at J. C. Penny’s. They have many cute styles and come in all sizes. I like to dress the part. It makes me feel good about myself and puts me into a mental framework of “this is yoga time”. Clothing can have a positive or negative impact on our psyche. Dress for your comfort and enjoyment.

      As for plus size yoga classes, I currently teach classes for people with Parkinson’s, Fibromyalgia, and other movement disorders. Occasionally, my students are also plus sized. I use a wonderful book from Megan Garcia for ideas. See link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0026IBXH8/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_til?tag=megayoga-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=B0026IBXH8&adid=0GS538KKR0HD5ZN4MK49&

      I hope this helps. Namaste!

    • Chris

      At Wal-Mart, of course !

      $ 5.99 : Fleece-pants


      $ 5.99 : Athletic shorts

      $ 6.99 : T-shirt

      There ! All done, in under $ 15.

  • Chris

    Great that yet another demographic is deriving the benefits of Yoga !

    Hope that this demographic is also making efforts to follow a vegetarian-diet, to further enhance their fitness, and to become better aligned with the central-theme of Yoga.

  • I think its a great idea to offer Full-Figure Yoga classes. I have had people tell me that they feel uncomfortable in a normal yoga class where everybody is “super-athletic, flexible and good looking”. crazy but thats how a lot of beginners perceive people in the yogi world. Its great to offer such classes in the sense to make them space out on all these prejudices and start practicing in their own space until they become comfortable enough to join a more advanced and “general” yoga class. thanks for sharing this- i am so glad i found another yogablog!

  • Just count me as a big “ditto” to Samantha- Yoga is for EVERY BODY.

  • Season

    I think that everyone should focus on their own yoga practice and not worry about what the fat or skinny person next to them is doing or wearing.

  • I applaud, just as there are classes for Pregnant and mommy and me yoga classes why not? as a curvy yogi and yoga instructor, this was my whole purpose, because yoga is discriminatory so lets not deny that.
    We have those who are more flexible and not so flexible… fit looking and non athletic fit looking. We have those who are recovering from injury, elderly, and the list goes on. Yoga is for everyone and I would like to know that anyone can do it. Its not so much of having to take an easier class. I am surprised by many who take advance classes but are struggling and should be in an easier class.
    I took a certification in Curvy Yoga and was amazed by the word choices I used that wasn’t so friendly and I was just in awe of just little changes I can help someone in any shape do a pose even better just from the class and guess what I don’t teach many Curvy yogis.

    I took a class the other day and the instructor tells me , “your drishti in downward facing dog is your navel. I don’t know how you can see your navel unless your a big girl so your lucky?”
    Funny thing was..as a big girl, I couldn’t see see my navel given I was holding my uddiyana bandha.

    point is, yoga is for everyone don’t tell me other wise.. whoot whoot

    • I’m not ashamed to say that if someone said that to me, my instinct tells me that I would say something like, “SORRY, MY MAGNIFICENT RACK IS IN THE WAY OF SEEING MY NAVEL. I GUESS YOU WOULDN’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THAT.”

      • Vision_Quest2

        Brilliant!! In my case, it’s long, luscious full and curvy legs that go on for miles …

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