Think you can’t do yoga? Think again. Dianne Bondy’s new book Yoga for Everyone: 50 Poses for Every Type of Body sets out to change all that with poses for literally every body type – here’s a taste
Yoga is a practice for all of us, and it has often been portrayed as a practice for some of us. Many of the images in mainstream yoga and fitness culture have focused on a homogenous representation of what it looks like to practice yoga.
Often, the imagery is athletic, able-bodied, thin, rich and white. In my book, Yoga for Everyone, I took the opportunity to show the broader view of yoga which includes all of us; bodies of all shapes and sizes.
I used to hate my body because it didn’t conform to current beauty standards that require you to be thin, athletic and fair skinned. But yoga helped me heal my broken relationship with my body and now, my practice is about self-care and self-awareness.
yoga helped me heal my broken relationship with my body
Yoga taught me that my body was not a problem that needed to be fixed or in need of constant refinement. Yoga taught me to be content with myself exactly as I was and that is the biggest gift that yoga offers all of us. Yet so many people say ‘I can’t do yoga, I’m too tall, too this or too that.’.
The average drop fee for a yoga class can be over £15. Yoga studio memberships and trainings can cost thousands of pounds. Studios are generally located in higher income areas. With that in mind, I decided to create a resource for students and teachers alike to illustrate a different representation of yoga. The idea that yoga can be done anywhere by anyone.
My new book Yoga for Everyone is how I see yoga. To me, this book represents the democratisation of yoga.
How to get started
If you are new to this practice, it can be intimidating. I often hear people say, ‘I can’t do yoga because I am not flexible’. Good news is yoga will improve many things about your health especially your flexibility. You don’t need to be flexible, young or athletic to do yoga. Yoga can be done by anybody of size, any age, and or ability.
To start a practice try seeking out a community center or teacher who offers an intro to yoga series or a yoga basics class; it helps you to find a starting place. If that’s not an option, there are online resources like YogaForAllStudents.com that offer classes based on the book, Yoga for Everyone.
Here are five poses anyone can try to help get you started.
#1 Eagle – Garudasana
You can soar like a majestic bird with this pose. It’s excellent for developing and enhancing balance, strength, and for developing and enhancing balance, strength, and flexibility throughout your body.
This pose also helps you flexibility throughout your body. This pose also helps you draw energy into the centre of your body.
1 – Stand in the middle of the mat, with your weight balanced equally between your feet and your arms extended at your sides.
2 – Shift your weight to your right leg and bend your left knee. Bring your left leg across your right leg to align the back of your left knee with the front of your right knee. Place your hands in a prayer position in front of your chest.
3 – Press your thighs together, slightly bend your right knee, and shift your weight backwards as if lowering yourself into a chair.
4 – Hook your right arm under your left elbow until your elbows align. (Or cross your right elbow with your left triceps.) Hold this position for 3 to 5 full breaths. Repeat these steps on the other side.
#2 Pidgeon – Eka pada rajakapotasana
This pose is a deep hip opener that can also help with lower-back pain, tight or sore hips, and overall well-being. Although these movements are challenging, you will benefit from the release of tension in your hips and back.
1 – Sit in a cross-legged position at the top of the mat, with your hands on your knees.
2 – Bend your left knee out to the side, place your left leg behind you, and place your hands flat on the mat, angling the sole of your left foot towards the right side of the mat.
3 – Press your hands into the mat and extend your left leg behind you, placing your right shin parallel with the top of the mat and pressing the top of your left foot into the mat. Hold this position for 3 to 5 full breaths. Repeat these steps on the other side.
#3 Triangle – Trikonasana
This lateral-facing standing pose opens your hips and shoulders and stretches your hamstrings. Performing these movements can also help you lengthen your torso and build balance and strength in your legs.
1 – Stand at the top of the mat, with weight balanced equally between your feet and your arms straight at your sides.
2- Extend your right leg behind you and rotate your whole body to face the side of the mat, balancing your weight between your feet. Place your right foot parallel with the back of the mat and keep your left foot pointing forwards. Extend your arms to form a T shape.
3 – Bend at your left hip and place the fingertips of your left hand at the outside of your left foot. Rotate your torso to your right and extend your right arm until aligned with your left arm. Hold this position for 3 to 5 full breaths. Repeat these steps on the other side.
#4 Tree – Vrksasana
Performing this pose can help you connect with your core muscles. Not only can these movements increase your balance and stability, but they also challenge your body to depend on your brain’s mental focus.
1 – Stand in the middle of the mat, with your weight balanced equally between your feet and your arms straight at your sides.
2 – Shift your weight to your left foot, slowly bend your right knee, and bring your right knee into your chest.
3 – Place the sole of your right foot on the inside of your left calf or thigh, pull your legs to the midline of your body, and place your hands in a prayer position in front of your chest.
4 – When you feel balanced, lift your arms towards the sky, keeping a slight bend in your elbows. Hold this position for 3 to 5 full breaths. Repeat these steps on the other side.
#5 Yoga squat – Malasana
This is no ordinary squat; it’s a powerful pose that stretches your inner thighs and hip flexors while also strengthening your lower back and leg muscles. Engaging your abdominal muscles helps you maintain your balance.
1 – Stand in the middle of the mat, with your weight balanced equally between your feet and your arms at your sides.
2 – Place your feet as wide as the mat, angling your feet towards the corners of the top of the mat. Place your hands on your hips or in a prayer position in front of your chest.
3 – Bend your knees to lower yourself into a squat. Lift onto your toes or widen your feet until your heels touch the mat. (If you lift onto your toes, you can place a folded blanket under your heels.) Hold this position for 3 to 5 full breaths.
June 21st is International Yoga Day
Yoga for Everyone: 50 Poses for Every Type of Body by Dianne Bondy is published by DK, 2 May. £12.99. DK.com.