Body Positive Yoga: Yoga for Plus Size Beginners + 5 Must-Know Influential Teachers

And 5 Fundamental Poses With Adaptations For Your Body


For folks in larger bodies, the yoga practice can be of great benefit for physical, mental, and emotional reasons.

Yet, often there may be barriers for these folks to access the practice as it is presented in most Western world yoga studios and spaces.

As a yoga trainer, I have heard yoga instructors, both new and seasoned, mention how they do not know how to cater to plus-size students, and some of them even went as far as to say that they had never met a plus-size yoga teacher or practitioner.

This shows a clear lack of representation and access for people in larger bodies to the healing and empowering practices of yoga.

In this article, we hope to break some stereotypes and inspire both yoga teachers and practitioners of all bodies to be more inclusive and build a community where everyone feels welcome.

Yoga is not just for the white, the skinny, the wealthy, or the able-bodied; it can be an accessible, diverse, and inclusive practice for all.

We’ll also introduce you to five amazing plus-sized yoga teachers who are reshaping the narrative around yoga and body positivity.

These teachers bring unique perspectives, offering guidance and inspiration for your practice.

Whether you’re a beginner or looking to deepen your practice, this article aims to provide you with the tools, confidence, and inspiration you need to embark on your journey, especially if you’re someone in a larger or non-normative body1 wanting to try yoga for plus size beginners.

Read on with us!

a woman sitting in cross legged meditation with her palms together with a watercolour background

Understanding Body-Positive Yoga

The body-positivity movement2 Palumbo, J. “Jay. (2022, May 12). The Body Positive Movement Encourages Inclusion, Not Obesity. Forbes., including its influence on practices like yoga, has its roots in various social and cultural shifts.

It emerged as a response to the unrealistic beauty standards and body ideals prevalent in society.

The body-positive movement has its origins in the fat acceptance movement of the 1960s, which challenged societal stigmas associated with obesity and advocated for the rights of fat people.

Today, the body-positive movement continues to evolve, promoting acceptance of all body types and continuing to challenge stereotypes and prejudices based on size, shape, age, gender, race, and physical ability.

In yoga, this translates to creating inclusive spaces where individuals of all sizes can practice comfortably, with an emphasis on personal well-being and self-care rather than conforming to the standards of fitness or appearance.

two people doing cobra pose on yoga mats with yoga blocks in front of them

Yoga Basics for Plus Size Beginners

Yoga for plus size beginners focuses on adapting yoga to suit larger bodies, ensuring a safer, more comfortable, and effective practice.

Here are some basics for you to consider:

  • Use props like blocks, straps, and bolsters
  • Listen to your body
  • The goal isn’t perfection, but finding an alignment that works for you
  • Focus on gradual progress and self-acceptance

Bear in mind that these fundamental yoga principles apply equally to plus-size individuals and those with more normative body types.

Making the practice accessible to our own body and needs should be universal!

5 Fundamental Poses and Adaptations

When exploring beginner yoga for overweight folks, adaptations and variations of basic postures can be beneficial.

Remembering to listen to yourself first, here are some poses and their modifications that plus size beginners may want to keep in mind:

1# Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

annotated image of a woman doing yoga's standing forward bend pose

This pose involves a deep forward bend.

For larger bodies, this asana can be modified by bending the knees slightly to ease tension in the lower back and hamstrings.

If you need a bit more space for your abdomen, consider separating your feet a bit more.

2#Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing seated forward bend Pose

This pose stretches the spine and hamstrings.

Plus-size yogis can sit on a folded blanket for better hip elevation and use a strap around the feet for easier reach.

Bending the knees and placing a blanket underneath will relieve tension in the lower back and hamstrings, making the pose more accessible.

3# Child’s Pose (Balasana)

annotated image of a woman doing child's pose

A restorative and relaxing pose, Child’s Pose involves sitting back on the heels and folding forward with arms extended.

Modify it by separating the knees wider to accommodate your torso and place a bolster or a folded blanket underneath you for added support.

Place a blanket or pillow between your heels and your hips, sitting on it for even more gentleness

4# Supine Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing reclined hand to big toe Pose

For those with a larger belly or thighs, using a yoga strap around the foot can help.

Lie on your back, lift one leg, and loop the strap around your foot while holding the ends with your hands.

This allows for a comfortable stretch without the belly or thighs restricting movement.

5# Modified Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana)

Using a chair for support for balance and stability-challenging shapes is great for yoga for plus size beginners.

In Warrior, for example, try standing behind the chair and placing one hand on the chair for stability, or sitting on the chair and performing the posture seated.

This variation ensures stability and provides the strength-building benefits of the traditional Warrior Pose.

5 Teachers of Yoga for Plus Size Beginners

Yoga for plus size beginners can be taught by any and all yoga teachers who have knowledge and training in size-inclusive, accessible, and trauma-sensitive practices.

With that being said, we should acknowledge that if you’re a person in a larger body wanting to explore the practices of yoga, you may want to connect with a plus-size teacher who can not only support you but inspire your practice.

Here are some of our favorite yoga for plus size beginner teachers:

1# Jessamyn Stanley

Jessamyn is a body positivity advocate, who challenges the typical yoga stereotype with her inclusive approach.

Embracing practicing yoga as a tool for self-acceptance, her teachings focus on how yoga can benefit all body types, encouraging practitioners to embrace their bodies and find strength and flexibility at any size.

Read her books here!

Try this grounding yoga class on YouTube, a yoga for plus size beginners practice:

2# Anat Geiger

Anat Geiger, who has now passed away, was a revered yoga teacher known for her deeply compassionate and introspective approach to yoga.

She emphasized the importance of internal awareness over physical prowess, encouraging students to explore the mind-body connection and embrace yoga as a journey toward inner peace and understanding.

You can still find many of her practices on The Fat Yogis, as well as EkhartYoga:

3# Amber Karnes

Amber Karnes is a renowned yoga teacher and the founder of Body Positive Yoga. She advocates for inclusivity in yoga, focusing on making the practice accessible to people of all sizes, shapes, and abilities.

Karnes emphasizes adaptive yoga techniques and mindfulness, encouraging her students to embrace their bodies and explore yoga in a way that respects their individual needs.

Her approach is centered on the belief that yoga is for everyone and that it can be a powerful tool for self-acceptance and body positivity.

Take a 45-minute yoga for plus size beginners class with Amber here:

4# Dianne Bondy

Dianne’s approach to yoga is deeply empowering, emphasizing body acceptance and challenging the conventional norms of the yoga industry.

She has contributed significantly to the literature on inclusive yoga practices through her yoga books.

Her works include “Yoga for Everyone: 50 Poses for Every Type of Body,” which offers modifications for yoga poses to accommodate various body types, and “Yoga Where You Are: Customize Your Practice for Your Body and Your Life,” co-authored with Kat Heagberg.

These books serve as valuable resources for both yoga practitioners and instructors, guiding them on how to make yoga accessible and enjoyable for everyone, regardless of their physical abilities or body shape.

In this video, Dianne shares a few tips for yoga for plus size beginners, especially for folks with generous thighs!

5# Reyna Cohan

Here is a great beginner yoga for overweight people workshop where Reyna, the creator of Body Kind Yoga, shares how to do postures that require folding when you have a larger belly.

6# Natasha Rusilko

This curvy yoga instructor is the founder of Nourished Natasha and focuses on using magic, movement, and mindfulness to transform her students’ lives.

Try this class with Natasha if you’re looking for an energizing yet accessible yoga for plus size beginners practice:


At its core, body-positive yoga empowers individuals to connect with their bodies in a nurturing and respectful way.

It’s a reminder that yoga is not a one-size-fits-all discipline; it’s a personal journey of growth and self-discovery.

By embracing body-positive yoga, plus size beginners are encouraged to honor their bodies, appreciate their unique strengths, and experience the holistic benefits of yoga—physical, mental, and spiritual.

This approach is a celebration of self-love, diversity, advocating for inclusivity and accessibility in the yoga community.

If this yoga for plus size beginners article was of assistance to you and you are ready to discover more resources for beginner practitioners, check out this section of our website next, and choose your next read:

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Laia is an Afro-Catalan accessible and inclusive yoga & meditation teacher. She has trained in hatha, vinyasa, trauma-informed yoga, yin yoga, and restorative yoga and holds E-RYT 500 and YACEP accreditations with the Yoga Alliance. Additionally, she is a freelance writer and translator, publishing in Catalan, English, and Spanish. As a former professional athlete who lives with a chronic illness, Laia has gained valuable insights into the benefits of self-care and the importance of pausing and slowing down. She is dedicated to sharing accessible and sustainable practices of yoga and meditation to help people create a more harmonious life. Being a black and chronically ill individual, her mission is to empower non-normative yoga teachers to find their unique voices and develop tools to make wellness practices accessible to the communities they serve, thereby taking up space and creating a more inclusive and diverse yoga industry. Furthermore, as a writer and creative, she is passionate about supporting other creatives and innovators. She fosters a genuine community dedicated to finding balance while staying productive and inspired. Laia has developed unique techniques that intertwine yoga and meditation with writing, journaling, and other accessible methods to help each other stay creative and mindful.

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