I never really stopped stretching, but now I’m starting to do a few yoga poses again. I stand in a “warrior” pose and marvel at how my mat holds my feet still, and I remember being able to have my feet further apart without any of the balance wobbling I’m doing.
I remind myself I used to spend 30 minutes on the treadmill and when I started again it was 3 minutes, so quit worrying about “used to do” and just do.
So. A few standing poses. I’m aware of my balance. A few floor poses. I’m aware of my back. A few twists. I feel looser. Getting off the floor is harder but doable.
MegaYoga by Megan Garcia
I often refer to the book MegaYoga by Megan Garcia when I’m unsure about how to position my feet and so forth.
This is written as I am rebuilding strength and stamina after a pulmonary embolism and other issues that made me persistently short of breath.
[Another weekly exercise in gratitude.]
1) I am thankful and honored to read the comments people have made in response to yesterday’s post.
2) Hugs from the man of the house yesterday.
3) Elevator repairs at work this week mean I’m walking more stairs. I’m managing this MUCH better than I was afraid I would ;)
4) Experimenting with a new-to-me yoga routine from Megan Garcia’s book Megayoga.
5) I feel I’m getting a better handle on “can’t catch breath, need asthma meds now” vs “breathing hard but okay”. It’s an physical cue I’m getting better at understanding.
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!
Yoga for Round Bodies
I started doing yoga in college with Raquel Welch’s book on yoga.1 Even then I found yoga relaxing and energizing. It also helped me improve my strength & flexibility.
Years later I wanted to try yoga again, but, remembering how I’d had no idea how to modify some poses, I looked for something more tailored to my sort of body. I’d read about the video Yoga for Round Bodies, Volume 1 online and in the fat-acceptance magazine Radiance. I ordered it and started working with it. After a week or so I pretty much felt I knew the poses so I’d skip putting in the video and just do them at my own speed. I still do their sequence of cat, dog, modified cobra and child’s pose a few times a week. Between the cobra and stomach crunches the lower back issues I had for years have cleared up almost completely (I still avoid lying on my back, but it’s mostly habit at this point).
MegaYoga by Megan Garcia
More recently I got the Yoga: Just My Size With Megan Garcia DVD. Like Yoga for Round Bodies, it is aimed at beginners. Most of the poses I’d already learned before, but the explanations and demonstrations seem very clear for newbies. I mostly put it in the DVD player when I want the new-agey music to help me relax, or when I’m having trouble focusing. (A more detailed review is here – Sanity Watchers on some of the ads on that page.)
I also have Megan Garcia’s book Megayoga, which I personally prefer to the DVD because it covers many more poses and provides 30, 60, and 90-minute routines. Part of that is probably due to the difference between the desired length of the DVD run time vs what you can do in a book.
Currently I’m basing my private practice on the Megayoga 30-minute routine plus a few other things from my “Yoga for People of Size” class. (I actually got this book from the library first and ordered it when I really didn’t want to return it!)
Anyone else have fat yoga books or videos they want to share?
1It’s about as body accepting as most fitness books by actresses, which is why I’m not linking to it.
… even though I’m probably going to want to skip it just on general “it’s my Monday I want to go home and collapse already” reasons.
More than 1,000 studies have been conducted to determine whether yoga helps people suffering diseases. Here’s a sample from the medical literature:
Depression: Patients diagnosed with depression showed significant reductions in anger, anxiety and neurotic symptoms after completing yoga classes, according to researchers in California, Russia and Italy.
Cancer: Cancer patients reported an improvement in overall well-being after practicing yoga, researchers in Canada found. In addition, a group of postmenopausal women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer reported to Duke University scientists that they had fewer hot flashes, slept better and felt less tired.
Diabetes: People with metabolic syndrome, often a precursor to diabetes, took 90-minute yoga classes over 10 weeks and reported having higher energy, lower blood pressure and improved well-being compared to others who did not take the classes, California researchers reported. — Yoga’s Stress Reduction Helps Alleviate Other Problems
I actually started doing yoga in college with Raquel Welch’s book on yoga. (It is not exactly body accepting and includes the usual diet advice, which is why I’m not linking to it.) Even then I found yoga relaxing and energizing. It also helped me improve my strength & flexibility. Since then I’ve worked with a couple videos, another book, and even ventured into actual classes. Continue reading
[One of the occasional series of posts about my typical day.]
Me Doing a Seated Twist
Tonight was yoga night. After work I go into an empty, industrially-carpeted room of the local community college with my yoga mat, blocks, and strap. We always end with laying down and a brief guided meditation. What varies is almost everything in between. Sure, we always do stretches, work our core muscles, and do a few twists. But sometimes we’re stretching laying on our backs, sometimes we’re sitting. Sometimes we do seated twists, sometimes standing, sometimes laying down. There’s a lot of variety.
It’s also interesting to see how things work when you switch something around. For example, I am one of those adults who can stand up, bend over, and touch my toes. But tonight, lying on my side with my legs stacked on top of each other, could I touch my hands with my toes? No. Interesting.
I also find the balance poses are hardest for me. Tonight, standing with my feet in line with each other, toes of one foot touching heel of the other…I had trouble just keeping my balance so that I was standing on both feet evenly. So while others were bending forward to touch the floor, I just focused on standing straight :)
And that is pretty much why I’m going. I stretch and do some yoga poses on my own regularly. But class tends to shake things up and have me try something new. And that’s good. :)