Yoga is an ancient practice that probably dates back more than 5,000 years. The term, yoga, comes from the ancient Sanskrit language and means “yoke” or “union.” Experts believe this term refers to a “union” between the mind and body, ultimately leading to spiritual enlightenment. Yoga activities use a combination of postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayamas) and, sometimes, meditation.
Researchers estimate more than 5 million people in the U.S. practice yoga. Many use the techniques to reduce stress, promote relaxation and promote flexibility and strength. Studies show yoga may also have more far-reaching benefits for health, improving blood pressure and heart rate, increasing lung capacity and reducing fatigue. Research also suggests yoga may improve triglyceride levels and insulin use and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Almost everyone could benefit from yoga, including those who are plus-sized. Yet, research shows obese people are much less likely to practice yoga than normal-weight peers. Austin, TX yoga instructor Abby Lentz believes that’s because overweight people feel out of place in a traditional yoga class. In addition, many overweight people are unable to perform some of the standard poses.
As a plus-sized person herself, Lentz understands the embarrassment, potential humiliation and difficulty of keeping up with others in a traditional yoga class. So, she developed HeavyWeight Yoga® for her overweight clients. The class is not designed to promote weight loss. Instead, she focuses on what she calls the three A’s: Awareness, Acceptance and Affection. The ultimate goal is for participants to love their bodies. Certain yoga poses are not safe for people who are overweight. So, Lentz has modified some poses and takes the class at a different pace from traditional yoga classes.
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