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However, many plus size people are


Buddha Body Yoga FOUNDER: MICHAEL HAYES


I


was tired of being the biggest person in the yoga class, so in 1996 I embarked on a Sivananda yoga teacher training course in


Barbados. After this, I developed my own practice and worked privately with another teacher, discovering how to get my body into the yoga postures. Buddha Body Yoga grew out of this experimentation and is the only yoga offering that I know of which caters exclusively for plus size people. Although with my skills I could teach


regular yoga, I fi nd larger people more interesting and challenging to work with. Millions of teachers work with the slender, the strong and the fi t, but only a handful of them work with big people. I run seven classes a week at our New


York studio and am just negotiating new space so that I can expand my class size. Finding clients is not necessarily easy; word of mouth and media coverage seem to be the best way to connect with them.


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scared to come to classes. I have had people register and not turn up, or arrive fi ve minutes late but then refuse to join in the class because they’re afraid. Once people start coming, retention is good, because I make it fun; it’s like a community with lots of jokes and playing with postures. It’s not really serious, like many other yoga classes.


Some people come because they want to lose weight, some want to be more fl exible, some want to experience yoga and others like the feeling of movement. If I can stop someone hobbling, or help them move and sit more comfortably, I consider that a success. Very often large people are fl exible, but they are disadvantaged by muscle tone and gravity. Some muscles are weak and others over-strengthened. My challenge is to teach the strong muscles to relax and strengthen the weak ones. I’d like to take the concept across the US and then around the world by running teacher training classes. I’ve just set up a certifi ed fi ve day yoga teacher training programme on working with big people, which is open to qualifi ed yoga teachers. ●


From Leisure Management Issue 2 2013, p62


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