As far as we know, the oldest systems of yoga were created by men—which means the majority of poses are most easily done by rectangular body types. This also means that for women who have a generous helping of breasts (like I do), some poses are difficult or even impossible, no matter how flexible and strong you are. To wit: Poses that require bringing your torso to your legs or your arms close to your chest were designed for straight lines—not curves.
So, what’s a busty yogi to do? Rather than just providing modifications for the postures, I believe we need to think a little deeper and wider as we practice and teach. Remember, asana practice accomplishes a few goals at a time, including strengthening and stretching the physical body and the subtle body. It’s not enough to merely adjust a posture; you also should be striving to create the same effect that you would if the pose were done traditionally.
Take Balasana (Child’s Pose), for example, which is designed to stretch the back and rest the legs, as well as to ease the mind and provide a break from a rigorous practice. For many large-breasted women, Child’s Pose can be an ineffective back stretch because we are not able to get our torsos close to either our knees or the floor. Some women might need to do Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend) and then Savasana (Corpse Pose) to accomplish what Child’s Pose does for the back and the subtle body.
Here are some other inspired ideas to help you adapt your practice if your Stanabhara (Sanskrit for breast weight) requires adjustments.