Yoga Resources for Bigger-Bodied People - Part 1

The first yoga book I purchased was in the fall of 2000. I was working the overnight shift at an emergency shelter for teenagers. My co-worker and friend Andi brought Yoga for Dummies to work one night. And I was hooked. We spent the time between bed checks and grocery lists trying to figure out what in the world our bodies were supposed to be doing in these weird shapes. At the time, that was about the only book I could find locally about yoga. So it was what I used. It was a great way to spend a summer.

These days, I seem to have quite the opposite problem. There are SO MANY books about yoga and I want them ALL. In the past several years, multiple resources have been created for people like me - who I like to call the atypical yoga practitioner. I am not thin or blonde or young. I don’t spend my time in hand stands or deep splits. Nope. None of the above. I’m over 40. I’m fat. I like my yoga practice to get me deeper into loving my body. And there are a lot of books out there for people like me (and maybe you!).

I have a lot of yoga books. Lots. Some resources are from familiar faces around the fat yoga sphere. These books cover yoga poses and philosophy, personal yoga experience, and yoga and body image issues. Some are not-as-popular books that I found deep on the internet that gave me a fresh appreciation for the work that has been done a little more behind-the-scenes to support full-bodied yoga students. Each of the resources I’m going to discuss have their place on your shelf. You may want to reach for different things based on what you are looking to learn or needing in your practice.

This post will discuss the usual suspects. In a few weeks, I’ll tell you about some deep cuts I found.

This is not a definitive collection. These are simply the resources I have in my personal collection. (That might embarrass me just a little. Do I have a book problem? Maybe. But we won’t talk about that today.)

Also, please note that these are Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Of course, we’ll start with Curvy Yoga by Anna Guest-Jelly. She is my teacher, after all. I still get excited when I see this book in bookstores (and I do often). If I am in an independent bookstore, I often make a point to chase down a bookseller and let them know how happy I am to see such an important book on the shelf. Anyway, the book.

Anna begins the book by telling her personal story with yoga, diet culture, and body acceptance. She sprinkles yoga philosophy, affirmations, breath work, and self inquiry practices into her story in a way that makes my own self-curiosity seem logical and natural. The final 60 pages of the book teach how to get into yoga poses in ways that are body curious and body aware. Instructions on how to use props are also included with most poses. I just really enjoy seeing my teacher and friend Anna.

Curvy Yoga is a great place to start. The book is a great balance of storytelling, philosophy overview, instruction, and photos of a curvy body in each yoga pose. I may be showing just a little bit of favoritism, but I love this book.

Y’all. I have had a huge yoga crush on Jessamyn Stanley for a very long time. Strong, free, fierce. She lives her truth in a way that blows me away on a regular basis. I remember counting down the days until her book was released and then stalking the delivery truck. I was incredibly excited for this book.

And I was not disappointed.

Where Anna’s voice is something like, “you are worthy of taking up space,” Jessamyn’s voice is more like, “TAKE WHAT IS YOURS.” She tells her story while incorporating yoga FAQs she receives. She talks openly about what to expect in a yoga class and how important it is to commit to being there. Jessamyn presents a variety of bodies in her pose instructions and descriptions. She also includes a few flows based on what you need to feel or learn.

I also really love this book. Jessamyn reminds me that I have power. That I am a badass. I will give a language alert (which I obviously don’t mind). It is worth noting, however, that Jessamyn doesn’t really discuss props or teach how to use them in the poses. Just be aware you may need to seek out other resources for props and modifications.

Dianne Bondy, friends. She is a FORCE. Several years ago, I completed the Yoga For All training that she leads with Amber Karnes and was just smitten. Her work in accessibility is empowering and inspiring. This book was another that caused me to stalk the delivery truck. The cover alone is exciting. The variety of body types and props is a wonderful hint toward what is inside.

This book is 99% informational and 1% storytelling. It is a great resource for you if you want no fluff and just poses. Dianne and friends review and instruct just about every yoga pose with multiple variations for each. I love that Dianne teaches and writes in a way that reminds us that there is no “full expression” of a pose. No one’s pose is better than anyone else’s. There are a few poses and variations that I would suggest having a teacher or at least a friend with you (like shoulderstand in chairs), but her knowledge of and passion for accessibility just shines.

She also includes several ideas for yoga flows, listing just pose names and page numbers.

I have followed Val Sagun for years on social media. I was so excited about her book deal and this book doesn’t disappoint. Her flexibility is amazing to me and I enjoy how comfortable she is in her body. Her book begins with a very wide intro of yoga topics. She discusses chanting, dynamic movements, and mental health.

She also walks through different ways to practice yoga - at home, in studio. on the internet - and how to get prepared for different types of practices. The last 2/3 of the book is a 30-Day yoga challenge where Val shows a pose or short flow for each day. She includes variations and uses some props. What I really love is how she includes twists and side bends in some of the poses to help explore body experience and awareness. She shows a variety of shapes to stop and explore different versions of the shape. I dig it.

I’ll be back in a few weeks to tell you about a few deep cuts that I found and adore. But just in case you know of something I don’t, what have I missed? What other bigger-bodied resources deserve a flip-through?