Michael Hayes, owner and operator of Buddha Body in New York City, offers personalized yoga classes catering to the plus size population. He sees a distinction between plus-sized and overweight and has studied and taught yoga for 14 years. Weighing 240 pounds and standing almost six feet tall, Hayes had many difficulties making progress with the ancient exercise that brings mental serenity by harnessing breathing to movement. In many instances, he brought his own props to class.
Hayes believes he is offering a viable alternative to a segment of the population that has been largely ignored as well as an intangible emotional component. He helps to certify other yoga teachers in plus size instruction and the end result is that some of his clients have lost as much as 30 pounds since taking his classes.
No slender people are allowed in his classes and when Hayes tells slimmer students that they cannot attend, they become very insulted, a fact that never ceases to fascinate him.
The message behind Hayes’ training is the idea that plus-sized is not synonymous with overweight. Most practitioners at Buddha Body feel out of place in conventional yoga classes and self conscious about the fact they are much heavier than other students.
One size fits all may not apply to many things, but in the case of yoga, a different emphasis and more important, a different attitude can make it an art form that everyone can embrace happily, healthily and in their own particular way.