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DVD Review: 'HeavyWeight Yoga 2' Will Change Your Perceptions of Yoga

By , SparkPeople Blogger
A growing number of people are overweight and obese, but you wouldn't know it by flipping through a magazine, watching TV or going to the movies. Thin is still "in" when it comes to models, actors, advertisements and yes, even exercise. We've known for a while that you can be overweight and fit at the same time, and certainly, many overweight men and women work out and live active lifestyles. Unfortunately, the world doesn't cater to the overweight. Airplane seats are too small; fashionable clothes are harder to come by; and most fitness programs don't offer the specific instruction and welcoming environments that many full-bodied people need in order to be successful. It's no wonder that 1/3 of SparkPeople members felt the need to lose weight before joining a gym in the first place!

Research from 2007 found that people who follow workout videos that prominently feature the instructor's thin or toned physique feel worse about themselves. Talk about low motivation to continue a program! Another recent study found that women who read fitness-related magazines while on an exercise bike exercised for a shorter duration than those who read general interest magazines that focused less on body shape. Apparently, all of this "thinspiration" isn't very good for us. So wouldn't it make sense that we'd all be more successful if we worked out with trainers or exercise instructors who looked more like us (and less like a seemingly unattainable ideal)? I think so.

A few fitness pioneers are paving the way for people of all sizes and ability levels to get fit without pressuring them to change or making them feel out of place or bad about themselves. We recently told you about Debra Mazda, founder of Shapely Girl fitness DVDs, which feature curvy women (including 165-pound Mazda herself) and back in June, I had the pleasure of reviewing Abby Lentz's DVD, HeavyWeight Yoga, which is specifically designed for overweight and obese individuals. I immediately fell in love with the DVD and everything that Abby represented. Soon after, she sent me her newest DVD, HeavyWeight Yoga 2: Change the Image of Yoga. I had the opportunity to try her new title a couple weeks ago. Want to know what I thought about it?

In her sophomore DVD in the HeavyWeight Yoga series, 61-year-old Abby brings even more to the table than in her first DVD, including eight of her students who help her demonstrate the poses in a "live" class format. The traditional workout includes five segments that run together seamlessly, but you can also select each segment individually from the menu to create your own class based on time available or ability. Here's what to expect during each of the five segments of the workout.
  • Breathing and Centering (less than 2 minutes) to prepare your focus for the workout ahead. This takes place seated on the mat.
  • Warm-up Series (25 minutes), also seated cross legged on the mat, to warm up, lubricate and gently massage the neck, wrist, elbow and shoulder joints. Seated hamstring, inner thigh, spine and torso stretches follow.
  • Floor Poses (5 minutes), which include quite a bit of isometric abdominal work after your slowly roll down onto your back from a seated position. Additional leg stretches using a strap come next, as well as one of my favorites, happy baby pose. Abby is careful to instruct participants to work through their own ranges of motion and stretch to the point of "sweet discomfort," never pain. You'll also gently roll over onto your belly and do salambhasana (locust pose) before preparing to stand up. Abby has her students slowly transition to standing from hands and knees (table pose) to downward dog, and then by slowly walking their feet toward their hands to roll up.
  • Standing Poses (10 minutes) only take a few minutes and include mountain pose (tadasana), the half moon series and eagle pose, which is a balancing pose (modifications explained and demonstrated). Five-pointed star, warrior 2, exalted warrior and a wide leg forward bend complete the standing poses before you make your way back down to the floor from a wide-leg downward dog and then return to hands and knees to prepare for the end of the workout.
  • Savasana (corpse pose) makes up the last 10-15 minutes of the workout, just like in a traditional yoga class. This time is devoted to total relaxation and resting. You'll see each student lie down in a different position using various props like blankets, pillows, eye covers and blocks to find comfort while in savasana (corpse pose). There is no instruction or talking, but the soft music continues to play and if you were to actually watch the DVD, you'd see shots of the students relaxing intermixed with beautiful nature images.
The class is gentle and non-threatening; it's relaxing and it feels good. Abby helps every student (and viewer) feel successful by offering modifications to make poses easier or more comfortable, always instructing to work through your own range of motion and to stop if anything doesn't feel right. While Abby does not explain every modification in detail during the workout, you will see various modifications used by the students throughout the DVD, which I found to be just as helpful. A bonus feature, that adds her commentary to the workout while watching the DVD does provide even more insight and tips.

Abby's instruction is spot-on, and she sprinkles in small bits of visualization during certain poses and other reminders about loving yourself. Near the end of the DVD she says, "Be sure the voice that talks to you 24/7 is warm and loving, talks to you with care and concern, talks to you with respect and a big sense of humor…Talk to yourself as if you are your best friend."

The DVD bonus features include short interviews with each of the eight students on the DVD. "It's my hope that in seeing them and hearing their stories, you will come to know that you, too, can do yoga. And you can believe that the benefits of yoga can be yours," Abby explains in the introduction. Besides Abby's gentle and welcoming teaching style, my favorite thing about HeavyWeight Yoga 2 is the classroom full of students who are regular people. From the interviews (another bonus feature), I learned that they vary in age from 39 to 82. Some have survived cancer, weight-loss surgery, competitive athletics, injuries, menopause, health issues and work stress, yet each one of them has been able to practice HeavyWeight Yoga and reap the benefits in their lives.

"Don't let your size get in the way," say Sharon, 39, the largest in the group. 82-year-old Marie says that yoga has helped her feel better about herself and helps her feel good and move around better.

"Anybody can do yoga, explains Matt. "That's the message of this video, I think. Even if you've got some extra pounds or you're not very limber or you're older or have some medical issue, it doesn't matter. You just start where you are and go from there…Yoga is not just for women who are super thin. It's for everybody no matter what your body type. "

This DVD will change your image of yoga. It is completely appropriate for overweight or obese exercisers who want to try yoga successfully, but it is also gentle enough for people with limited mobility who might have trouble moving around, getting up and down off the floor, or have balance issues but want to help improve their functional range of motion. It would also make an excellent teaching tool for yoga instructors who want more ideas to help their full-bodied students feel welcome and successful in a yoga class. I highly recommend the DVD for anyone who wants to begin a gentler yoga practice! You can buy HeavyWeight Yoga 2 ($16.95) from or directly from Abby's website,

What do you think about Abby's mission to change the image of yoga? Have you tried Abby's first DVD? Will you try this one?

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I've always loved doing what yoga I could, even as I have been heavy, and I'm fairly flexible. But I'm always plagued with doubt that I'm doing it right because these videos aren't usually captioned - so I don't know about that "talk to yourself lovingly" whatever - can you (who have watched the DVD) tell me if it is closed captioned, or sub-titled (open captioned)? Thanks. Report
Deffintely will check into it. Tried yoga after being exposed to it a number of years ago but just couldn't seem to get into it Great to see a 60 year old woman showing we can do it Report
There's no WAY Abby is 60+ years old! She looks amazing!!! Report
I attempted a yoga class once and it was a horrible experience. Everyone was skinny and experienced.

Thank you Nicole for posting this. I hate how even exercise is geared toward skinny people. I will definitely have to try this DVD. Report
Just ordered the dvd and now I find that Abby Lentz is local for me! I'm thinking now about checking out her classes Report
I will definitely look for this DVD. And even use it! Report
There are a few people I think would LOVE this DVD.

Sadly I cannot buy it for them without a beating. :(

But its' great that it's on the market! Perhaps I will casually mention that I read a review of it. Report

This sounds wonderful - thanks for sharing it ! Are there any that show poses, etc. for people who are unable to get down to the floor ? Report
I've got this DVD also. Now sadly, it is still in its cellophane wrapper. BUT since I've joined SparkPeople I've been viewing fitness a whole new way. Finally an exercise video that has real people in it. Report
Wow, I didn't know there were any exercise DVD's that had real people in them!! I'll try one of hers. Thanks for the information. Report
Thanks-I have been looking for something like this! Report
How refreshing that there are products out there for the average person. i love it!!! Report
Oh, I'm excited too! I have a $25.00 reward card from Amazon and I plan to order this real soon. Report
I am SOOO excited, have too have been wanting to do Yoga and these are now on my Christmas wish list!
This dvd looks really interesting, especially since it looks like I could do most of this at my current weight! Report
This seems like a neat dvd.. might have to check it out. Report
If you cannot get on the floor to do the floor poses, another option is to do the poses on the bed. You can start them on the bed and as your strength and flexibility improves, you can move to the floor.

I have been one of Abby's students for over a year. I have attended several yoga classes but I found Abby's classes to be the best. She truly understands the challenges a person of size has when it comes to yoga poses. Her selection of poses and her adaptations made yoga possible for me. I have fallen in love with yoga thanks to Abby.
This is definitely on my Christmas Wish List on HINT HINT ANYONE OUT THERE! Report
The local yoga studio that I go to just started a "Yoga Plus" class for people of size. While I myself am not in that particular category, I think it's great that the studio owner knows that plus-sized people want/need yoga, too! Report
Yoga is about a lifestyle of fitness and health, so I certainly wouldn't want to spend money on a DVD like that when RODNEY YEE, PATRICIA WALTON and PRISCILLA PATRICK all have wonderful Yoga DVD's showing their fit lifestyles. Priscilla Patrick is 65 and has had her series on PBS-TV. She is at Report
It sounds good enough to buy.It also sounds like a good Christmas present and one that I could work out with one of my daughters Report
This just got added to my wish list for Christmas...thanks ! Report
I have had Abby's Yoga DVD for a while. I bought the first edition and as soon as I heard of the 2nd, I pre-ordered it. I love these DVDs and definitely recommend them to anyone who wants to give yoga a try! Report
As I've said before, I am blind and always looking for videoes with more vocal instruction to help me follow along and this sounds like one that may work for me.... I like the option to add her commentary to the instruction and think it would work. I'm going to put this on my Dear Santa list and will let you know how it goes! Thanks for the review. Report
One of the great attributes of yoga is that it is for everyone--thin, fat, coordinated, uncoordinated, limber or stiff. I think it's great that someone that doesn't "fit the mold" is featured on the DVD. More people who could enjoy yoga would be willing to try it if the presenters looked more like them. Report
I started practicing yoga almost 2 years ago. It was the first step in what finally brought me to Spark. I now go at least once a week. It is my sanity! My week is simply not as good without practicing yoga. It is every bit as much a mental boost as a physical one. After discussing it with my doctor, I was even able to go off anti-depressants with a regular yoga practice. (But when I hurt my foot this summer & stopped going to class for a while, I sure could feel the difference. I must keep it up!)

I'd like to try these DVDs to try to get myself practicing at home too. It took me a while, in a regular class, to find ways to adjust certain poses to work with the challenge of when my body got in my own way. Now, I know what to do, and better still, my shrinking size makes it even better! Finding the right class, instructor &/or tool like these DVDs is key! Report
Maybe I'll try it again! Report
I think I will try again--haven/t done in years Report
Spot on! The idea of seeing "real" people on an exercise video is great. Richard Simmons was a leader in this...I remember seeing a variety of body shapes on his videos and it was inspiring then as well as now. I'm surprised that "big" names in exercise aren't doing this as well - their loss! Report
Great concept! I have a nice workout video and the instructor is very fit and inspiring, however there is a fashion model type in the same video that I wish was not there. I think the video producers insist on the the most slim figure to be represented also, when the instructor is more than a fine example for me. Report
I try to do yoga once a week. I can't do all of it, but It feels good to do what I can. Report
I am a total yoga lover, and have been most of my life. If you take it seriously, and watch what you eat, you'd be surprised at the weight you can take off, and how fit, you will feel. I also do Hot tub yoga, at the pool. It is great. It is easier on your joints, when you do it, in the hot water. hugs Andrea Report
This is great. We need more things like this. Thanks for posting, and it's going on my wish list too! Any chance of being able to buy this through the SparkPeople store in the future? Report
I will definitly be trying these videos. I have always hated the idea of a person 1/2 my size and ten times as fit showing me how to do something that my body is just not formed for. I love the idea of a bulkie woman showing me how to do yoga poses, especially as there are often modifications needed for overweight and bulky bodies. Report
Thanks Nicole for focusing on subjects for all types of people. You do a great job and you are much appreciated by all of us here at SparkPeople!!! I definately would like to have these various yoga CD's to start to learn about Yoga and start to work it into my fitness program. I am so clumsy and could really use the help of getting more "centered". LOL Report
Wow, I think I am adding this to my christmas list. I always wanted to do yoga. It's nice to know I can do it, before I lose all this weight. Report
So pleased to see Yoga for the overweight, mobility challenged person. I will definitely ask for this DVD for Christmas.

vicki Report
It would be great if I could order these from the SparkPeople Store. Report
i would love to get the dvd
I intend to get this video-I think it is just what I need. Thank you. Report
This is perfect blog for me today. I went to a hot yoga class and looked around and noticed I was the largest woman in the class. I also looked around and I noticed that I was more flexible than half the class. So it proves that you don't have to be a skinny person to do yoga and to enjoy its benefits. If you don't believe me, ask my aching body. Report
but it is also gentle enough for people with limited mobility who might have trouble moving around, getting up and down off the floor, or have balance issues ....
You state this - but if one is overweight, or obese it can be dangerous to get down onto the floor - I avoid it at all costs - last time it took 2 ambulance men to raise me as I don't have the strength to get myself up!!
Also a lot of overweight, or obese people have knee, hip or ankle issues - standing exercise would be a huge problem!! Report
I have wanted to try yoga, but don't know where or how to start, Thanks for the info. Report
I did Yoga many years ago and loved it. I have purchased books and DVDs since then but never seem to be able to get back into the groove. I think I may check out this DVD and see if that will be incentive enough to try it again. It really is one of the most rewarding exercise programs one can do...relaxation and meditation are so good for everyone. Report
Always thought I'd never get yoga to fit with me - I'm not bendy! Now, I will try.. Report
Thanks so much for the review---I've added this DVD and her first one to my wish list! Report
In one of today's spark emails was a section on yoga poses for better sleep. I was really saddened by many of the responses that said they were too heavy to do yoga.
No one is too heavy to do yoga. And even bed and wheelchair bound can do yoga.
And it is beneficial to so many facets of life. Yoga includes a philosophy of gentleness and strength combined that adds a lot of valuable tools for daily living. Report
I tried a yoga DVD once. But only a few minutes into it, I realized that there was no way I could get my body to twist like the DVD and gave up. I might give this a try. Report
Yoga is for everyone. I've been taking a class for 8 months now. I am one of the few "larger" persons in the class. I was uncomfortable at first, but then realized, yoga is a forgiving, loving form of excersize. I think these DVDs are fabulous. It might encourage someone who wouldn't feel comfortable taking a class to try yoga. Thanks for the review! Report
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