Yes, yoga is difficult. But having big boobs makes it feel like I’m training for Cirque du Soleil instead of relaxing and stretching in a yoga studio. Not to mention, when I went in search of my first studio, I didn’t understand the ideals behind any of the yoga styles. Some were vastly too intense for me as a beginner, but others put me to sleep. In an attempt to de-mystify some of the yoga world, I’ve included a brief description of various yoga styles, too.
I’ve compiled my ultimate guide to yoga, and added a ton of helpful hints especially for us ladies who have a little more to work around. Let’s start with the fundamentals, sports bras.
Importance of a Good Sports Bra
Supporting your back by supporting and containing your breasts (so to speak) is extremely important in exercise and general daily life. Our backs take a lot of stress throughout a day, and our chests are heavy. If you’re constantly straining your back, you’ll likely end up with spine issue and nerve trouble! So help you back out and support your boobs, especially when you plan on an hour or two of stretching, bending, and bouncing around. Nobody want subluxations and scoliosis!
A good sports bra will keep your breasts and your face as two separate entities during your plow pose. It will also keep your boobs from suffocating you while you practice your routine shoulder stand. These both sound like good things, right? This aspect ties into the whole idea of support. You don’t need to smash your breasts against your body for the uni-boob effect, but your bra should fit snugly. By holding your bust down and toward your center of gravity, a sports bra will make it much easier to see your toes and knees when you need to adjust positioning or gaze a certain way… “Now gaze down to your toes…” Where are my toes?!
A good bra will also mean less bounce when you jostle around from plank to forward bend and vice versa. You know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever done sun salutations, you “hop” or “step” to plank. Yes, I’ve found that this is completely impossible to accomplish gracefully. No matter how I try, the girls will bounce and jostle about in every imaginable direction. Joy!
A Few Internet Favorites and Recommendations
The following recommendations are a few that I found to be highly recommended and reviewed by consumers online. I have personally tried the Glamorise bra, and I find it to be quite comfortable and wonderfully supportive. I found the Anita was popular because it was good quality, and gave good shape and support without underwire. If you pop into any local department store looking for a garment, be sure to try it on. I’ll say it a million times more. If you don’t try it on, you can’t be upset when it doesn’t fit you at home.
Take 10 different sizes and styles into the dressing room and go nuts! When you try one on that feels and looks promising, make sure to hop around, reach over your head, across your body, and do a few jumping jacks while you’re at it. Any discomfort? Did things move too much? Can you breath in it? Does the ladies require re-positioning after all that? If it appears to past the test, take it home!
- Champion Women’s Mesh-Vented Compression Sports Bra
- Anita Women’s Non-Wired Sports Bra
- Glamorise Women’s No-Bounce Full-Support Sport Bra
I will try these specialized sports bras for large breasts, but I often will go the lazy route and double up sports bras. It really depends if I’m alone or in a studio. In a studio it often get really hot will all the people in the room, so I’m more likely to use the one hefty bra. But if I’m outside or at home, and there’s a breeze, then I’ll just double up.
What to Expect Without a Good Bra
Without an effective garment to support the tatas, you’re going to experience a little discomfort. and likely some pain. Bouncing is one of the first problems on the list you’ll experience. A bra that is made of thin or cheap material will not secure the weight of you boobs very well. Thus, when you hop from plank to forward bend, expect some bounce and jiggle. If the fabric is too loose, and isn’t fitting you properly the unfortunate “nip-slip” may occur. Whether it happens from under the band, or above it, nip slipping is not fun and it’s super embarrassing.
More boobs in your face than normal is something you can expect to experience if your bra choice is wrong for you. Consider buying a new bra if yours is old. It may be that the material has begun to break down, and you are no longer receiving the security you once had. Otherwise, it’s too thin of fabric, or too loose of a fit. Either way, time to go sports bra shopping! If you’re unsure how to go about shopping, refer back to the first section regarding favorites and recommendations.
Soreness around the boobs typically means you’re not getting enough support. One key thing to be aware of is the difference between boob tissue soreness and pectoral muscle soreness from a workout. The tissue soreness means you may need a stronger support in you sports bra, or that you need a tighter fit to ensure less bouncing and strain on your chest.
Nipple chafing is another symptom of having a sports bra that doesn’t fit or is inadequate. More specifically, if the fabric is too abrasive, too loose, etc. If you fin it is an issue with virtually every sports bra you try, maybe give a product like Bodyglide a try. It’s one simple application step when you’re in the dressing room at the gym. Just glide it over the skin and you’re done. Designed and manufactured for hikers and cyclists, this product is meant to reduce friction and dermatitis caused by rubbing, sweat, and chafing. Also, making sure you use a fragrance free body lotion after showering off all that post-workout sweat will keep your skin around your nipples happier.
Back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain… All signs of needed support, support, support. But this can be a little different than what you might expect. You muscles of your core and back help support you in your workouts. By making sure you stretch and maintain a strong center will help with this soreness. If you are feeling soreness and pain in your spine, or numbness in your toes that is a more serious spinal problem. If you suspect you are having spine pain and it continues to persist, find a reputable chiropractor in your area for some readjustment!
As you have read, a loose fitting sports bra is setting yourself up for disaster. Whether the ailment turns out to be a nip slip, nipple chafing, soreness, etc. It’s just bad news. Save yourself the time, money and pain, and make sure you have a good fitting bra. Sometimes they require a few more bucks, but I’m sure you won’t regret a quality bra once you get one.
Avoiding Pains In General
- Sports bra that supports your chest and back is absolutely most important thing of all.
- Strengthen your back and core muscles so that you don’t injure yourself in holding certain poses. Straining your back is painful, take every precaution to avoid this injury.
- Don’t do anything that will injure you or looks painful; know your own limits.
- Move slowly and gradually. Only fluid movements.
- Don’t forget to breathe!
The plow pose is the bane of most women’s existence. There is no way to go about this pose without trying to make your breasts a permanent feature on your chin. If you haven’t attempted plow pose before, please try so now. Once you’re finished drowning in your own breasts, try this modified plow pose instead! Put a stool above your head for your feet to reston. This will take stress off of your back and neck, and keep your boobs out of your face. Yay!
Child pose can be a wonderfully relaxing pose, unless you have large breasts. With breasts in the way, you’re forced into a scrunched and round-back position that’s far from relaxing. A fantastic solution for me is to remember is to open my knees wide so that my toes are more together, and my knees open up room for my boobs.
This one is really difficult. I haven’t done this pose enough to have a good recommendation on how to modify it. For me, this is going to be a struggle pose until I find an instructor who can help me work around it. In the meantime, I don’t see it too often so I can avoid it. If you know of a way to modify the devotional warrior pose, please describe it in the comments below. I would love to hear about it.
The shoulder stand can be rough, especially if your boobs are more soft. Their tendency to shift onto your face is impossible at times. Sports bras can help, but they’re no surefire solution to this phenomenon. Luckily, there is a modified version that can make this easier. You’ll need to be next to a chair or a wall to prop you heels on. While laying on your back, place your heels on a high surface so gravity isn’t completely against you. This modification also makes this pose a more core intensive one, as you fight to keep your trunk straight.
If you feel like your breasts are trying to knock you off balance, they really are in this pose. The solution I found helpful is to use a chair in front of me. I understand a chair isn’t exactly available in many studios, though. If you have access to a chair where you are, it will help straighten your posture, and aid in pushing your back leg up and parallel to the floor without fear of tipping over. The next best thing you can do is strengthening your core and back muscles. These will help your balance and you move into and out of this position.
Bakasana (aka Crow)
This position may be difficult for some large busted women, and not for others. I think it really depends on the build of your upper body. The best way for me to accomplish crow pose is to try and do a little boob situating before hand. Also, I found this pose was impossible to accomplish without first practicing my balance and strength needed for it. This is a mid-level pose and can be very challenging to someone who had just begun yoga. Don’t be discouraged at all. Just practice, practice!
This is another problem pose for about 50% of well-endowed women. I think it’s more of an issue if you are new to yoga. The reason I say this is because we are visual creatures, and when we haven’t developed muscle memory for something yet, we like to see things and double check what we are doing. If I’m in downward dog, and someone tells me to make sure my toes are spread wide, I’m going to try and look to see if my toes are spread wide! And I can’t, of course. Because boobs are in the way.
Another common problem is your boobs resting on your airway, and making it difficult to breathe. Unfortunately, I don’t know a modification for this pose, but what I would recommend (if you need a visual like I described) is to practice next to a mirror at home or at your studio of choice.
Bow pose is just plain painful. Nobody with breasts was meant to put all of their body weight on them. And yes, my body tends to roll forward (right onto my breasts) when going into this pose. Luckily, a yoga friend told me the following: The bow pose can be made easier if you place a rolled towel right under your bust-line. This extra lift will straighten your chest into the pose, and allow for easier breathing too. Relief!
No matter how much you are struggling with a pose, remember to keep your shoulders open wide to allow for regular breathing. Yoga is about synchronizing your breath with the movements you are making. By holding your breath, you are interrupting your yoga flow. Also, your face will turn purple and you’ll find yourself gasping for air at odd intervals. Don’t do that. Just open your chest up and breathe instead! It will be a challenge, though.
Breathe! I can’t say it enough. Breathing is so important when it comes to stretching and physical exertion. Breathing with your poses and through your transitions will effectively help you get deeper into your stretches, and push more power through the more difficult transitions. You’d be amazed how much lower you can go into a bend when you simply exhale slowly. Try it next time.Don’t let your breathing make or break your posture.
Understand that yoga takes time and patience. Your body will not miraculously become flexible and strong after one session, or even ten. You will notice soreness in your muscles and slight progress in your flexibility, but think of it like watching your grass grow. You don’t have a waist-high meadow overnight. Keep with your classes a few times a week, and make a point of stretching at home before bed or when you wake up in the morning. Before you know it, 6 months have gone by and you’re getting pretty confident!
Invest in Good Gear
Please, don’t be afraid to invest in a good sports bra. With all of the scary things I mentioned earlier about why you should have a quality sports bra, please get a quality sports bra. Don’t skimp. If one is half the price of the other (and neither are on sale), it’s likely that the cheaper one will fit like half the price of the other (terribly). I’m not advocating for everyone going and buying to most expensive bra on the rack. We all know that isn’t a success guarantee. But maybe somewhere right down the middle of the realistic price rang would be a wise decision.
Make sure to Buy a good mat. If you find your knees or sit bones need extra padding against the hardwood studio floor, get a mat that is 1/2″ thick. Having a yoga block at home, as well as a strap is great for when you’re not in the studio. These tools can be maximally utilized to aid in proper form and efficient stretching positions. Without them, you could injure yourself, or twist in a way not intended. This might sound silly, but a blanket is useful to have around for propping up your chest or back in difficult poses. A yoga towel is my best friend, too when I go to a hot yoga session (or even in a regular studio, since I sweat like a pig).
If you’re primarily doing stretching yoga classes, it is especially important that you keep up with maintaining a good core strength and back strength. This will help your body support your chest without causing damage to your discs and lumbar spine. Do the best thing for helping your spine out, take a Pilates class once or twice a week, or take a power yoga class every once in a while. Even during a relaxing yoga session, engage your core whenever you can. That little extra exertion can help your body maintain strength and resist injury. Engaging your core also helps in spontaneously improving your posture.
Do not fear the yoga block, a belt or chair. These tools were made to help you. Yoga is not a competition about who is best and strongest (though it may feel like it sometimes), don’t fall for that. Yoga is about the individual, and your individual needs. Many people come to a yoga studio with all kinds of health problems, knees and joints, torn ligaments, arthritis, etc. Don’t be ashamed because you can’t grab your toes and you need the belt to help you. Soon, you probably won’t need the belt anyway! All of these tools are (usually) available for the students to utilize as they wish. An instructor may encourage you to use a block or belt for a particular pose. Do not be discouraged by this at all. They are helping you individually, and by you not taking this advice out of embarrassment or stubbornness is only going to hurt you. Trust in your mentor.
Understanding Class Types
Bear with me, this list might seem a little scary, but I’m going to make each description as friendly as possible. It should cover most of the types of yoga that any studio will offer. Hopefully, it will give you a good idea and vague (at the very least) understanding of the practice.
This form of yoga is one typically described as the typical “purist” yoga, but with a twist. Students are strongly encouraged to animatedly express themselves through their poses and with a sense of humor. With an overall tone of class that is meant to be accepting of all and focused on the individual ways people hold poses. The idea is not to force the students into the exact same positions. Everyone is different, and thus their positions will be different. This form of yoga was created by John Friend.
Ashtanga yoga can be defined by its six established pose sequences. They are referred to as the primary series, second series, etc. Students move quickly through the psoes, and practice synchronization of their breath with each movement. This synchronization between respiration and the movement through poses is called a vinyasa. As a student progresses through primary series, they can then continue to move forward through each of the subsequent pose sequences.
This style of yoga is not for the weak of heart. Really, it’s not. Hot yoga is Bikram yoga, and you can expect the studio to feel like a sauna. Rooms are often at 105 degrees and 40% humidity. For someone who is new to yoga, or is not familiar with what they are physically capable of, I would recommend a different class to begin. If you’re not careful, you can easily dehydrate or get heat stroke in this kind of environment. The class structure will typically be a series of 26 poses, all performed twice.
This is a very broad term for different kinds of physical yoga practice, and it is one of the six branches of yoga. Essentially all modern yoga practice falls into this category since they enphaisize a physical movement with control of breath. Thus Ashtanga, vinyasa, Iyengar, etc all fall under the Hatha yoga umbrella.
This form of yoga is labeled as the “purist” yoga. You will find a variety of items in theses studios intended to aid the students into perfect pose form. These items may be things like blocks, straps, harnesses, and also incline boards. It has been nicknamed furniture yoga because of the list of items used to put your body into perfect posture. This style is good for any beginner as it is friendly in it’s aiding. However, don’t take that as my saying its a walk in the park. The idea behind Iyengar is deliberate movement and perfect alignment of the body.
This literally translates to “liberation while living” and is a more spiritual and educational approach for western students. Each class of Jivamukti will have a dedicated theme or take home message. You can exoect things like chanting or reference to ancient scripture. It was developed in 1984 in New York City,and is a very different style of yoga than many of us are accustomed to.
One of the more interesting forms of yoga (in my opinion) is Kripalu yoga. This practiced for of yoga is a bit like a three step learning process for its students. Ideally, students will come to know, accept, and learn from their unique and individual body. Ultimately, the goal is for each student to allow their body to be their teacher, finding your own flow in asanas. Beginning with figuring out how your body works in a variety of different poses, and next moving into extended poses and meditation before the final stage.
This form of yoga can be easily summed up in the following three words: constant, invigorating, energy. Kundalini means serpent, and is indicated as a kind of energy contained within your body. The idea behind Kundalini yoga? Release the serpent energy. Students imagine this untapped energy as a slumbering serpent coiled at the base of the spine. The constant movement of Kundalini yoga is supposed to utilize that energy source and allow it to move freely through your body.
This is a class that has been carefully constructed around poses for expecting mothers in any stage of pregnancy, as well as those who have recently given birth and want to get back into shape. Keeping your muscles strong through the duration of a pregnancy will allow those muscles to regain their shape and strength once the baby is delivered.
This style definitely focus on stress relief, and relaxation. Don’t be surprised at the extremely slow pace of these classes. Sometimes 20 minutes will be spent holding one position before moving on to the next one in a short series of 5 or so. Often times these positions are simple modifications of more standard asanas. It is common for studios of restorative yoga to use items and props such as blankets, bolsters, and soothing lavender eye pillows to help ease students into a deeper and more effective relaxation. Some classes are akin to guided meditations.
This system is another favorite of mine because it is a regimented lifestyle practice. Sivananda yoga is based on the idea that a healthy lifestyle can be achieved by the proper maintenance of 5 aspects: positive thinking, relaxation, diet, exercise, and breathing. The pace of a class in the studio is slow and not rushed like many other yoga classes you may have tried. It keeps the same 12 asanas (sometimes with slight variations) and is begun and ended with sun salutations and savasana, also known as corpse pose.
This is an extremely unique style of yoga that emphasizes the connection between individuals and is practiced with a partner. It isn’t sexual, but it does allow a much deeper connection with your partner. Think spiritual connections.
This is one of my favorite types of yoga because it’s great for us busty ladies! viniyoga is intended to be a customized experience so to speak. The practice is very individualized, and students become proficient in adapting traditional poses to meet their own needs and abilities. The root “Vini” in the name essentially means difference, adapt, and application. As opposed to focusing too heavily on being super strong and outrageously flexible, Viniyoga attempts to warm up and contract muscles before trying to stretch them. This is a wonderful practice because it drastically reduces your chances of injury.
This is one of the more popular forms of yoga, at least to Westerners. It broke free from its ashtanga yoga mother in the late 80’s, and has never stopped appealing to the majority of us in the western world. If you love aerobics and rushing around to different poses, then this style might most appeal to you.
Also called taoist yoga, Yin is much more relaxed and quiet in practice than power yoga. Yin poses are very passive. With a focus on meditation and calming the mind, Yin also focuses on lengthening connective tissues and is meant to wholly complement yang yoga. Yang yoga types are muscle forming practices such as Anusara, ashtanga, Iyengar, etc. Muscles are intended to be relaxed; your body weight in conjunction with gravity will get the work done. Be warned, these classes are typically quite long-winded.
Best Type of Yoga for Girls with a Big Bust
What I found in my exploration of yoga (I’m no pro yogi, either) is that I was very comfortable in the Kripalu and Viniyoga style classes. The Kripalu is great in the same way that Viniyoga is; your body is unique, and not all bodies move the same way. Letting your body be the teacher, you can guide yourself into stretches or modifications of stretches that work best for you. Because you are the most important part of going to yoga class!
You Are Not Alone
Please always remember: everyone has their struggle in yoga. And more largely, everyone has their own struggles in life. Yoga is about acceptance of the self and others. Reading through a lengthy post about a yoga teacher and her experiences makes me worry about how us women treat each other. We may be guilty of criticizing a skinny woman for having no breasts, because we’re jealous of her body shape. Maybe a thin woman criticizes another with large breasts because deep down, she is envious. What do these blind criticisms do? Nothing positive. The absolute first lesson you should learn as a student practicing yoga is how to love yourself. There is no other way for you to openly love and accept other without being strong in your own self-acceptance.
Another brief note about bodies… Many other women practice with large breasts, too. Don’t feel let down or ashamed of your body, ever! Continue to practice, and ask for help whenever you need it. Questions are not a sin of weakness, but a sign of strength and intelligence.
Especially if you have a female yogi teacher, ask her what she recommends when it comes to working around a full-bust. Are there variations that are easier for you to start with? No need to fight your body in addition to trying to stretch. This is how you could potentially injure yourself!I’m sure he/she will have some kind of advice to give you, or a direction to point you in.
Talk to other busty girls in the class. I know it can be discouraging when you’re the only one in the room with a full-rack, and every other woman has a swimmer built body. But don’t give up! I’ve heard that yoga was possibly intended for mainly men; look around in any yoga studio, and you’ll find that the male to female ratio certainly doesn’t reflect that way!
I hope this post offers a little clarification and help to anyone looking for it. If you have any questions after reading, please include them in the comments below. Have any favorite styles of yoga? How about a favorite sports bra or other piece of equipment? Please share with us! Your experiences and opinions are important to anyone seeking first-hand information.If you enjoyed this article, then we're probably very similar. I'm Victoria Melo, and I know what it’s like to be busty and struggle finding the perfect bra. Not long ago, I was just another girl wearing the wrong bra size. When I finally discovered my real size and found great bras for my busty figure, it felt like a miracle. Now, I'm a bra fitter helping hundreds of women like you find their own miracle. Click here to read my lists of my favorite bras for you.