Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Striking a Pose for Girth

“Typically, yoga studios are not havens for the plus-size set. The ancient practice might be based on philosophies that stress self-acceptance and noncompetitiveness, but that can be hard to consider when entering a studio filled with lithe, limber bodies twisting like taffy and gliding effortlessly into handstands and backbends. ‘I go to those classes and I walk out feeling horrible,’ said Ms. Ayers, a 35-year-old massage therapist. ‘When you are a larger person, there are certain things your body is not going to do, no matter how skilled you are. I’m actually fairly flexible. But I go into a regular class and it becomes clear that no one is going to help me modify a stretch to help my body. You either do it or you don’t.’ Then Ms. Ayers found a posting on Craigslist for Buddha Body Yoga, one of many yoga classes for people of size that have sprouted up over the last decade, including MegaYoga at East West Yoga in Manhattan, HeavyWeight Yoga in Austin, Tex., and Yoga for Round Bodies at Whole Life Yoga in Seattle. Buddha Body Yoga is not for people of all shapes and sizes. ‘It’s only for big people,’ said Michael Hayes, the owner of Buddha Body Yoga. ’I’m not interested in teaching small people,’ said Mr. Hayes, 49, who has been teaching the Manhattan class for five years. ‘There are so many other classes for them.’

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