We’ve all been there — the first time you walk into a yoga class or after a long break of not working out, your self-consciousness gets the best of you and you gravitate towards a spot in the back.

But now, more than ever, you should know that fit women come in all shapes and sizes, and you don’t need to look like the “typical” yogi model (who does really?) to excel during an hour of downward facing dog and warrior two.

Trust us, we know how easy it is to get intimidated, so here are some pro tips every plus-size woman should know before practicing yoga.

Have the proper gear
Using the right gear is an essential step when starting any type of workout, and yoga is no exception. Practicing with incorrect gear can result in chaffed skin, nip slips, and other fitness faux pas. “Bring plenty of water, a grippy mat, and wear your best outfit (when you like your outfit, you feel better!). Above all, be patient with your body and remember yoga is an act of self-love,” says Francesca Valarezo, yoga and meditation instructor.

Practice proper form
Listening to your body and knowing your limits will make any workout go smoother, which is why Ambyr D’Amato, yoga instructor at Crunch Fitness, wants you to pay attention to your form during poses. In yoga, it’s important to “pay close attention to the positioning of hands and feet” to go deeper into poses and to prevent injuries. “Always widen your stance (keep them at least hips-width distance apart) and really press your fingers to the ground for optimal results. However, never be afraid to take breaks if you feel that you’re getting lightheaded. Yoga is about taking deep breaths as opposed to taking in short bursts of air, so stay in child’s pose for as long as you need to and come back to the practice once you’ve regained your breath,” adds D’Amato.

Props are your best friend
“Use props — all of them because yoga is mostly about learning to be efficient with your body. I recommend using blocks to give you leverage and stability as well as utilizing blankets under your knees and elbows to feel more comfortable. Remember, it’s important to become a skillful yogi rather than an acrobat,” shares Valarezo.

Find the right environment
“Yoga isn’t just a workout, it’s about building a healthy connection with your body, so find a studio with an environment that welcomes your questions, halts your insecurities, and encourages you to set and reach personal bests,” says Valarezo.

xx, The FabFitFun Team