Guide to Starting Yoga for the Overweight/ Obese

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

A few years ago, a friend of mine who was learning yoga suffered a slip disk. As the result of that, she had to go for an immediate operation and after that, she developed a phobia for exercises, particularly yoga.

At the same time, I have previously learned yoga from Dr Dhilip Kumar– who shared a very inspirational real life story of his. He suffered an accident and was told that he could never walk again. Determined, he went to India to study yoga under the masters there and uses ayurveda- the ancient art of healing to heal himself. It took 5 years and today, by looking at him and the strength and energy that seemed to shine forth from him, you would have no idea of his previous health problem. I’ve also heard other stories from those who have benefited from yoga- at least, the exercise calms a person’s mind down.

Update: The Gym has already closed down but the story shared below is still quite inspirational

Recently, I met the CEO of Fitness Network, a neighborhood based gym in Bandar Utama, Dr Lingeshwaran Pillai or otherwise known as Dr Lingam. Dr Lingam holds a phD in yogic science and teaches yoga as well advocate proper breathing and nutrition. I took the opportunity to relay my friend’s bad experience to Dr Lingam and ask him for his opinion on the matter.

According to Dr Lingam, an inactive person who is much overweight should not begin doing yoga exercises immediately- like those of the sun salutation and other form of exercises straight away. He recommended the following:

  1. First, he would put the person on a little strength training exercises. If the person is not generally active, the person should strengthen the muscles –like the core and lower back to minimize injuries.
  2. Second, to drop some pounds first, probably through meal replacements. Reason is because if the person is carrying too much of access weight, it would put more pressure and tension on joints and bones. The time required varies from one person to the next. After that, then only the person can slowly begin the program. He mentioned that some trainers do not understand and keep pushing the overweight person to exercise when the person’s fitness level is very low. This may cause the person to lose confidence, and suffer a lot of body aches and pains- which led to the person abandoning the exercise program altogether because he/she becomes discourage and lose self-confidence.

He mentioned that my friend suffered the injury because the nature of the yoga exercises- the bending and flexing, as well as the fact that she does not have enough strength, coupled with probably doing these exercises too fast puts too much of strain to the spine.

If you are in the predicament- you are overweight and/or have knee pain and want to start a healthy lifestyle but is afraid it will cause you to injure yourself, always seek advice from someone experienced. Ask around for recommendations- and have a one to one chat with a fitness or yoga instructor. Usually, in an informal class (given by smaller gyms or yoga centers), by voicing out your concerns to the instructor, he/she would usually pay more care in advising the easier options. It’s worth to invest a small amount of money to have proper techniques taught to you- which you can apply for years to come.

Even though the risks, we will be healthy in the long run if we give exercise a shot. Percentage of contracting certain illness such as breast and stomach cancers, high blood, cholesterol, diabetes can be reduced with increasing fitness levels. However, if we are carrying a little too much weight around, or have past injuries, we need to find a way to exercise without increasing our risk for injuries.

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6 thoughts on “Guide to Starting Yoga for the Overweight/ Obese”

  1. On dear, i hope your friend did not sign up at Fitness Network. It has since closed down about 2 weeks ago. A lot of members, including myself and a couple of my friends who have paid for full year’s subscription are now so lost

    1. It is indeed sad that the gym has closed down. The owner had been kind to provide me with tips but I did know that the little neigborhood gym is facing tough times due to competitive mega gyms.

  2. Hi,

    I am a member too, any idea what will happen to the gymm? Need to go exercise desperately due to CNY overeating……


    1. Hi Taylor,
      Glad to hear that. Yoga is a great relaxation exercise. The act of stretching itself completely relaxes the body.

  3. Jackson Hill

    my sister practices Yoga and i also find it interesting that is why i am also practicing Yoga now ‘

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