Too Fat for Yoga?

by Rosanna on April 18, 2012, no comments

Tiina Veer, Founder of Yoga for Round Bodies

Too often, when I tell people I teach yoga, I receive responses like this:

“Ah, I’d love to do yoga, but I’m not very flexible.” “I’ll have to hit the gym for a good few months before coming to class. I’m not in great shape.” “I wish I’d practised when I was younger, but I’m too old now.”

And when I hear these things, it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart because I know that yoga is for anybody. And it’s a shame to see so many people miss out on receiving the benefits.

So, what’s going on?

There are a lot of preconceptions floating around about ‘what yoga is’, and ‘who can do it’. You see images in the media of svelte and toned women in their 20’s and 30’s hitting the mat, all smiles and no sweat.  And from there, you come to think that you’re not flexible, young, slim, fit, (fill in the gap)… basically “good” enough to practise.

All kinds of fears and insecurities can surface when considering going to a class. You want to feel good, strong and fit. But what if you’re judged on your appearance by your teacher? What if everyone else in the room can touch their toes and you can’t? What if everybody is just better than you!?

The underlying point – you don’t want to be embarrassed or look silly.

So much so, that you don’t go. You stay at home, feeling just as you did before. Sadly compromising any benefits you could gain.

“But I can’t go!”

It’s perfectly normal to feel like this. A lot of people do. It can be scary to step out into an unknown place, full of complete strangers, bending and breathing in all kinds of odd ways. But you’re not alone. And what you need to know – is that there is nothing wrong with you. You and your fears are accepted. And you “can” start yoga from this place. Here and now. No matter your age, gender, body size, level of flexibility… or how much of a mess you think you are.

Hear this loud and clear – you are good enough! Just as you are. 

But to help this sink in (it won’t happen over night), it’s important you find a class that suits you. A teacher that believes in you and your strength. A space in which you feel welcome and cared for.

Tiina Veer is a great example of a Yoga Teacher who makes her students feel safe and welcome. She is the Founder of Yoga for Round Bodies, living in Toronto, Ontario, and similarly to myself wants people to know that yoga is for everybody. She says:

“I too am motivated to get the word out to all people who “think” they can’t do yoga. They just need to find the right teacher! Yoga is for anybody.”

Inspired by her own experience living and practising yoga in a round body, Tiina shares her passion and knowledge with others. “There’s a growing plus-size movement!” Tiina points out, and for whom she compassionately offers her services. (For more info on Tiina, her classes and training, visit

And Tiina is not the only one standing out and offering support for a certain group of people. There are many great teachers out there wanting to share their skills with you to help you feel well and comfortable in your skin, both on and off the mat. Teachers that won’t judge you, or want you to change. But appreciate you as you are, and are willing to support you on your journey.

There really is no need to stay stuck or feeling like your spark has gone out, when there is good help out there. Look for yoga teachers who, like Tiina, work with a specific group of people (plus-sized people) or myself (low moods sufferers). Or any teacher who offers you warmth, compassion and an open heart. And…

Start where you are

Whatever mental, physical or emotional state you’re in. Don’t allow your fears and worries to get the better of you. You are good enough. You are welcome.

Actions to take today

Here are 3 things you can do “right now” to get the ball rolling.

1) Take a look in the mirror, and as hard as it may be, list all the things you like about yourself. Your appearance; body, face, hair, smile. Your personality. Your unique quirks. Your skills… All of you. Remember you’re lovely as you are, here and now.

2) Find a space and sit down comfortably. Close your eyes or soften your gaze and bring your focus onto your breath. As you breathe in, long and slow breaths from the belly, say to yourself “I am good enough.” And as you breathe out “Just as I am.” Repeat as many times as needed to really relax and feel into it.

3) Book, or go along to a yoga class. It can be enough to just email a teacher or put the date in your diary. You can explain any fears or concerns you might have, and see what response you get from them. Consider it a journey that starts today.

Leave a message below sharing your fears and insecurities about going to a yoga class. What’s stopping you from going? How could your teacher help you feel welcome? Remember we all feel them, so don’t be shy or embarrassed. And tell us what actions you are taking today to feel good, starting where you are. 

—– Live in Cambridge, UK? I’d love to have you in one of my Group Yoga classes (for anybody) or help you to lift your mood and tap into your strength with the One-to-One programme (for low moods sufferers). Take a look at the services pages on this site, and know that I don’t mind where you’re at, if you come along with messy hair, some extra weight or even if you’re a smoker! You are perfectly welcome and accepted 🙂