People who practice yoga are commonly thought of as being thin, toned, and flexible, but yoga can be practiced with any type of body. Yet each of the different yoga styles are often better suited for specific body types. Knowing which type of yoga practice is best for your type of body will ensure that you have a positive experience and more success in your practice.
The advice given will bring awareness to your body image and thus may bring up some uncomfortable feelings. Know that we are discussing body types as a general reflection of a person’s current physiology functioning. Our body shapes are influenced by many uncontrollable factors, including genetics and our surrounding environment. With dedication and sustained practice, yoga can transform your body and change your shape.
You will be more likely to stick with a yoga class if it fulfills your need for ease and comfort. The following tips are intended to provide general advice on what type of yoga class will be most accessible for your type of body. As your journey progresses, you may wish to explore other styles of yoga to fine-tune and further deepen your practice.
Thin Body Shape: Try Hot Yoga
If your body is naturally thin, you are more likely to be predisposed to favor or tolerate warmth. Hot yoga is a challenging style performed in a heated room—typically at 100 degrees or warmer. This yoga practice is also beneficial if you have very tight muscles as the heat helps you stretch deeper into the yoga poses. Heated classes are sometimes practiced in front of a mirror, and these classes are more popular with young adults. If you want to build up more muscle mass, then check out a hot vinyasa or hot flow yoga class.
Lean Body Shape: Try Ashtanga or Power Yoga
Ashtanga yoga is an athletic form of yoga that uses the flow of breath to move between a set sequence of yoga postures. Ashtanga is a good fit for lean body types because it is based around the sun salutation sequences, and these poses require both strength and flexibly. You’ll get pushed to your athletic limits with only the use of your body. It is fast-paced and designed to build your upper muscle strength. It focuses on balance and flexibility. Power yoga will get even the most athletic people sweating and challenged. You will be able to maintain your lean body by continuing to build strength and muscle tone with this practice. This yoga style has the most aerobic activity involved, which will boost metabolism, promote weight loss, and get your heart rate up.
Moderate Body Shape: Try Gentle or Hatha Yoga
A general, all-levels hatha yoga class is one of the best yoga practices for beginners because of how gentle it is. Traditionally, hatha yoga was less focused on the development and perfection of poses, and modern approaches use less of the traditional practices of pranayama, mudra, and bandha. Hatha yoga is perfect for moderately built bodies as they will have the strength and flexibility to perform all or most of the yoga postures taught.
Curvy or Stocky Body Shape: Try Iyengar Yoga
The slow static format of Iyengar yoga works best for curvy or stocky shaped bodies. Curvy builds will appreciate the use of yoga props such as straps, blocks, bolsters, ropes, and chairs to support proper alignment. Iyengar is very detailed-oriented, yet is entirely doable even for those who have never exercised before. As you build up strength and flexibility, you may wish to explore more challenging and dynamic forms of yoga.
Athletic Body Shape: Try Yin Yoga
To counteract a tight muscle-bound athletic body, yin yoga is recommended. This type of yoga practice is entirely focused on slow deep stretches and relaxation. Yin yoga primarily uses floor poses that stretch the lower body to gently open up the hips, pelvis, glutes, inner thighs, and low back. You will be guided by your yoga instructor to hold each asana for several minutes while breathing deeply and consciously relaxing. At first, you will need to rely on yoga props to support you as you slowly ease into the poses. By the end of a yin yoga session, you will feel a deep sense of calm and introspection.