BUST Mag Yoga Illos 2a85c

Big Grrrl, Small Yoga World

YOGA IS INTIMIDATING for new practitioners, but it’s even more intimidating for anyone who doesn’t have a lithe “yoga” physique. We don’t see it as much as we should, but all body types can do yoga. As a yoga instructor with personal experience navigating a bigger belly and breasts, I’ve learned to use my knowledge of the poses, along with my own practice, to make shapes that feel best for me. Here are a few tips to make your yoga session more comfortable if you’re sporting a softer and rounder midsection. 

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Physically move your belly. This is especially helpful in twists. As you move into a pose, put your hand on the lowest part of your stomach and adjust your flesh to move in the direction of your torso. (Move your breasts as needed too!) Not only will you have more room for movement, but also the action of physically touching your body allows you to reconnect with yourself.

Use your hands to create space. If you’re uncomfortable in positions where your front body is compressed, like forward fold or in a supine position with your knees toward your chest, press your hands into the very top of your thighbone, where it connects to your torso, to create space and find a nice release. 

Props are your friends. In standing forward folds, use blocks under your hands in front of you, creating more of an L-shape with your body allowing your belly to release forward. Blocks can also create space for your belly in poses like triangle, low lunge, half splits, and pyramid. The goal in yoga isn’t to get your nose to your knee. It’s to find comfort, which will look different for every body. Use a strap in supine poses where bringing your knees to your chest isn’t possible, including figure four stretches or wind-relieving pose. Wrap the strap behind your knees and hold onto it with both hands to give yourself an assist.

Widen your stance. If child’s pose is uncomfortable, take your knees out wide and let your belly and breasts rest between them, rather than on top of them. If poses like lunges, squats, or Warrior 1 are tough, widen your stance.

If you can’t create space, don’t. Transitions that ask you to step your foot to the front of the mat, like going from downward dog to a lunge, might just not work. Instead of getting frustrated, step your foot as far forward as is comfortable, then walk your hands back to meet your stance. Use your next breath to step to the front of the mat and continue. Remember, your practice is your practice. 

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By Kelly Jensen
Illustrated by Theresa Baxter

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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