All sizes are welcome at Abby Lentz’s HeavyWeight Yoga classes

Abby Lentz, an Austin yoga instructor, has moved her HeavyWeight Yoga classes to a new downtown location. Photo by Korey Howell
Abby Lentz, an Austin yoga instructor, has moved her HeavyWeight Yoga classes to a new downtown location. Photo by Korey Howell

Not everyone who does yoga is wispy thin or bendy as a strand of cooked spaghetti, and no one knows that better than Abby Lentz, the Austin-based pioneer of HeavyWeight Yoga.

Lentz’s classes are geared toward big-bodied and full-figured students who may feel less intimidated in a yoga class designed specifically for heavier people. She modifies poses for her heavyset students, and some poses, like inversions, shoulder stands and headstands, are off-limits.

Abby Lentz, background, teaches a yoga class for overweight people in this file photo. Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Abby Lentz, background, teaches a yoga class for overweight people in this file photo. Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

“There are lots of other ways to get the benefits of yoga without endangering yourself because of the body weight you carry,” Lentz said when I interviewed her about the classes several years ago.

Lentz announced this week that she’s moving the location of her public yoga classes to the Women’s Community Center, 1704 San Antonio Street. Classes will take place at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays, starting July 18. Two Wednesday night classes – 5:45 p.m. and 7 p.m. – will begin on July 22.

Lentz is on a roll. Her work appears in the July issue of Prevention Magazine in the form of a collection of illustrations showing people how to find the benefits of yoga with the body they have today.

She’s also leading livestream yoga classes.

She began offering the classes because she knows how it feels to be the heaviest person in a yoga class. She also knows that many overweight people would rather skip an exercise class than risk the humiliation of not being able to do what the instructor can do. With Lentz as instructor, she says, students can see how someone with a body like their own can do yoga.

This week, she celebrated her latest success. “Over a decade ago I wanted to change the image of yoga and what a joy to see it unfolding,” she said.

You can watch her “Abby Unplugged!” livestream event at 6 p.m. July 8 here. Starting Aug. 5 she’ll host the program at 6 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month.

Need some inspiration? Check out this collection of photos that smash yoga body stereotypes.

Author: Pam LeBlanc

Pam LeBlanc writes about fitness and travel for the Austin American-Statesman. She has worked for the Statesman since 1998 and written her weekly fitness column, Fit City, since 2004.

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