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Reshaped yoga can handle any curve

Think “yoga class” and you’ll probably conjure up images of sylph-like women and sinewy men folding their bodies into impossible poses. But not everyone who practices yoga (or wants to) is thin, and modifications are sometimes needed to accommodate a larger frame. Plus-size model and yoga teacher Megan Garcia realized this and has written a book, “MegaYoga” (DK Publishing, 2006), offering beginning and more advanced techniques for bigger men and women.

-- Jeannine Stein

MegaYoga: The practice of yoga is different for people who carry around extra weight, which can make it difficult to achieve some poses. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from trying, and Garcia’s book is a good place to begin.

Early chapters cover yoga’s health benefits, proper body alignment, guidelines for joint safety and achieving range of motion, a brief tutorial on yoga props, and some encouraging words on having confidence and a positive image. Breathing and warm-up exercises are precursors to the poses, which include basics such as child’s pose, eagle, downward-facing dog and warrior.

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Each has modifications: In warrior 1, chairs can be used for balance during the lunge. Child’s pose is made more comfortable by spreading the knees to accommodate the chest and stomach. But for those who want advanced techniques, Garcia also includes ways to intensify things, such as shortening the distance between the head and feet during dolphin pose, which increases the hamstring and calf stretch. “People think yoga is sort of like gymnastics -- that it’s best suited to one body type,” says the Guttenberg, N.J.-based Garcia, who has been teaching yoga for about 11 years.

In her student days, she says, the modifications she made to suit her own body drew attention from fellow class members: “Curvy women, and some large men, would come up to me after class and ask, ‘Can you show me how to do that?’ ” she recalls. “I realized there were a lot of people out there who would like to learn.” Often, teachers didn’t know how to help: “Most of them didn’t have large breasts or big bellies, and could only offer gentler versions of poses,” she says.

It’s a misconception, she adds, that people who are overweight want gentler classes. “My students,” she says, “complain if they don’t break a sweat.”

Price: $15, available at bookstores.

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