Yoga When You Big AF
How to Get Started with Yoga and the Recovery Benefits for Big Ol’ Gorillas Like Us
Yoga isn’t just for skinny women. As a thicker male member of society, I have found a lot of benefits to recovery and core strength in my yoga routine.
I’ve spent a lot of time recently feeling setback by a nagging issue with my hip. As frequent readers of this page may know, my goal is to be a successful distance runner. In that journey, however, I have suffered a lot of joint pain and soreness. There are just certain things that a bigger body like mine cannot do without proper planning and recovery.
Even with that in mind, it’s hard for me to except that sometimes this journey is not about how fast you can run, how much you can lift, or how much sweat you can generate – sometimes it’s about slowing down, stretching, recovering, and maintaining all the progress you’ve made.
What has helped me incorporate all these principles into my journey is yoga twice a week.
That’s right, gentlemen, you’re looking at a 6'5", 275-pound man that hits some exotic-looking yoga poses twice per week.
Yoga and Recovery
With my fitness goals in mind, a regular yoga schedule has helped me be better prepared for every aspect of my routine. From weightlifting to distance running, I have seen benefits in flexibility and baseline strength because of the work I’ve put in on my yoga mat.
Yoga has been shown to not only dramatically increase core strength, which helps with overall balance and form during weight training, but also decreases muscle loss rate between workouts. Put simply: yoga helps me keep all the gains I’ve worked so hard for.
The recovery side of things is where the real benefits emerge. In my experience, I’m able to alleviate hip pain that I’ve suffered from during my distance running training schedule. I currently use the DownDog app on my iPad to customize a yoga routine (focusing primarily on opening the hips) and have never felt stronger and,more importantly, prepared for longer runs and harder workouts.
Yoga When You’re Big AF
Like I said earlier, I’m a big boy. Before I started working my face off towards my fitness goals, I was nearly 400 pounds – so my body is not built for much of the more difficult yoga poses without an extensive amount of practice and dedication.
So what should one do if your big AF and want to get started? Make like a pornstar and make sure that yoga mat is extra long and extra thick. (Sorry, not sorry for that joke). The key here is to start out easy and be comfortable. If you aren’t comfortable or it’s too hard, then you won’t come back to your yoga mat.
Alright so you’ve got your big self on the mat and you’re ready to go. Now what? I would highly recommend the YouTube channel Yoga with Adrienne and the DownDog app. Both of these resources are built for anyone from beginner to expert. Don’t worry about crushing every pose or doing a handstand your first day – do your best and leave the rest for the next session. Working as hard as you can and focusing on your form every session is key to long-term success and gains.
It is totally possible that your first 4–5 sessions will be an absolute struggle. It’s also possible that you won’t finish. This is completely okay. You’re going to feel the burn from head-to-toe as the muscles you’re employing to stay balanced and strong in your stance aren’t often used in this way, especially just starting out. Again, do as much as you can and then a tiny bit more each day. You’ll be shocked what you’re able to do in 4–6 weeks.
What Should a Beginner Routine Look Like?
Well, the short answer is: this is different for everyone’s goals and ability. If you’re looking for the recovery benefits, you may only need 2–3 yoga sessions per week. For strength gains or those focusing on mastering more complex poses and making yoga a central part of your routine, it may make sense to work 4–5 sessions per week in.
For me, I use Mondays and Fridays as my “yoga days.” Monday yoga sessions serve to center me at the beginning of the week and give me a sense of preparedness for the hard work to come. Friday night yoga is perfect for cooling down after working so hard throughout the week and preparing my body for a Saturday rest day.
But, everyone is different. I currently look hilarious doing yoga and frankly, suck at it. But that will change over time and the recovery benefits I get are totally worth it.
Good luck in your yoga journey and as always, keep showing up and every day will get a little bit better and easier!