I was surprised to see an article on yoga classes that target fat people in a mainstream newspaper (in this case The New York Times). Overall it’s a good article. The main thrust is that different body types can result in needing to adapt poses.
Poses considered standard for those who are fit or slim — standing with the feet together in mountain pose, kneeling with the forehead on the mat in child’s pose — are often difficult or even impossible for heavier students. Forward bends and twists are hindered by extra girth. Weight-bearing exercises like arm balances can also be more difficult.
There’s also a mention of Megan Garcia and MegaYoga (of the MegaYoga book and video.) I was half-expecting to see a “balancing” quote from a “fitness expert” about how fat people should work on losing weight so they can do yoga “properly” or about how fat people should be sure to so something aerobic to help them lose weight. Instead, the “other opinion” came from the editor in chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy Kelly McGonigal, who felt that “segregating” fat people into different classes is the wrong way to go.
As for that…I think there’s a reason there are many different yoga classes out there. Everyone wants a class that works for them. For some people that’s “hot yoga”. Others have the basic poses down and want an “advanced” class. Someone who is new might want a slower pace and more explanations. People with arthritis or who are recovering from injuries may want lots of props to experiment with and time to try adapting poses as needed. Fat yoga is a way of showcasing some common adaptations (and once you learn how to adapt common poses, then you can take those with you to any class) but it can also be a way to market to a particular community—US.
One thing I learned in my fat yoga class is that not all fat people need the same adaptations. Yes, fat adds bulk, but how much and where it’s at varies. I have lots of belly bulk, so seated forward bends with legs together don’t work well. A more pear-shaped woman would have a lot easier time!