N.Y. studio plus-sizes the pleasures of yoga

Mon May 9, 2011 10:10am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Buddha Body Yoga in New York City, offers small classes, individual attention, and plenty of blocks, bolsters, belts, balance balls and blankets to ease recalcitrant limbs into warriors poses.

But there won't be the usual bevy of pony-tailed sylphs making pretzel shapes. Buddha Body yoga is strictly for the plus-sized practitioner: no sylphs allowed.

"When I tell 120-pound (55 kg) people they can't come, they get very offended, which I find fascinating," said Michael Hayes, owner and operator of Buddha Body.

Hayes describes his clients as plus-sized, not overweight.

"There are heavy people who are fit and not necessarily fat," he explained. "We have body builders who can't stretch because they're muscularly tight. If you think of a sumo wrestler as fat, then you have a problem."

Personalized yoga, with classes, books and videos catering for plus-sized people, the elderly and others is a growing industry.

Hayes, who has studied and taught yoga for 14 years, said Buddha Body is the fruit of his own struggles with the ancient practice that ties breath to movement.

At nearly six feet and 240 pounds (109 kg), Hayes said he grew tired of taking yoga classes and not making the progress he wanted.   Continued...

<p>Yoga instructor Michael Hayes, owner of Buddha Body Yoga, warms up before teaching his class in New York City May 7, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly</p>