Hey friends! So many of you guys often ask me about my yoga routines and how to adapt some of my favorite practices for beginners. Well, you have to start somewhere, and I HIGHLY recommend taking a beginners' course because you can practice under the supervision of a professional and make sure you are doing it right. As always, please consult YOUR physician (not just me lol) before beginning any exercise program.
Today, I want to share with you 10 yoga tips that I picked up while browsing magazines in our waiting room. I hope that these will help you get more out of your practice with these helpful insider hints from a yoga pro!
1. Listen, ya'll... yoga is not a religion. Now, I personally like to think of yoga as "my church" because it represents a safe place that I often retreat to for true self-reflection and soul balance. Some people mistakenly think that yoga automatically = some eastern religion, but for me- yoga is just a way of life, release, and a great type of exercise! Yoga is all about moving your body, finding a way to connect, identifying peace, and taking a little time for yourself to refresh your mind & body at the same time.
2. Yoga is not a “push it until you collapse on the floor” practice. Yes, there is endurance involved, but this is not a competitive sport. If you're making audible sounds that SOUND LIKE a body builder lifting weights... you're most likely doing it wrong. This is why classes and instructors are so important beyond just videos at home. Child’s pose has an important purpose. Use it! If you cannot keep your Ujjayi breath steady and on point, it is time to drop to Child’s pose and regain your breathing and composure. If you are not breathing correctly, the yoga is not going to do what you need it to (and who wants to do yoga to get MORE stressed??). It is okay to drop the pose, meditate, and get back on track.
(Guess how many times it took me to get/hold this pose lol You have to start somewhere!)
3. Plenty of people do not lose weight the first month of yoga, which can be really frustrating if you are doing yoga specifically to slim down. Keep pushing through! Everyone is different, and each body processes calories vs exercise differently. Month #2 can be slow, but by month #3, I really started to see more muscle tone, which I've maintained now for years. See, initially, your body is just developing muscle- and muscle weighs more than fat. Don't look at the scale- look in the mirror! It is working, keep going!
4. Get a good mat. Seriously. Some people doubt that there is any difference in the mats... Wrong, boo! A thick and comfortable mat can completely change your practice, but remember that GRIP is the most important feature. A great mat that grips the floor well is worth the extra money. I can be dripping with sweat, and I still don’t budge from my poses. Get the mat. Pay the money. You won’t be sorry.
5. Don't worry about how you look or if anyone is watching. No one cares! haha Seriously, I used to be so paranoid about how I looked when I started. "Am I flexible enough?... Are they critiquing my body?... What if I can't hit every move perfectly?" Once you really get involved in yoga, you realize it is just you and your mat. Say hi to your friends when you arrive, and then BYE FELICIA! Forget about them until the practice is over. Everyone else is doing the same thing you are. Close your eyes, relax, and dive in. Just try to stop worrying about others.... The same goes in life.
6. When you wake up feeling “too sore” to go to yoga... push through & go anyway. One of the best things you can do for your soreness is stretch it out. You will actually learn to look forward to a bit of soreness because the more you stretch, the faster it goes away.
7. I try to do yoga on an empty (kinda) stomach. Now, don't starve yourself and tell people "Cary told me to!" A light, healthy snack is always good to have during the day, especially if you're practicing yoga after work or in the afternoon like I typically do. Just try to space it out with about 2+ hrs before yoga time. (They actually tell you to wait 4 hours before practicing yoga, but this working mama has got to eat!) Here's why: You are bending and activating your body's core (torso) so much, it's honestly just more comfortable to come to class with an empty to light stomach and an open & clear mind.
Listen, neither of us wants to see your breakfast end up on your mat haha! Bring water, and stay hydrated!
8. "Let me take a selfie!" So, I know that pictures in yoga class can be annoying, but you can even try this in the privacy of your own home. Bear with me here. I found that when I was down on my practice or got discouraged, I could look at old pictures and compare with current ones! It will shock you how far you’ve come so quickly. Getting involved in yoga challenges can be fun too because you take pictures of the poses and meet other yogis. Even if you are not a social butterfly, just TRY taking the pictures (or have your friend or spouse do it). You will be glad you did. I love laughing at old failures and celebrating new victories.
(My husband Mark took this of me and my fellow yogi right in our foyer!)
9. That moment when you are stretching and it gets painful... and you really want to give up and get out of the pose... just give it one more full Ujjayi breath, breathing deep into where the pain is. Try to surrender. If you can get past this and just surrender & release, the pain stops. It is a mind over matter game. Sometimes, we win and sometimes we lose, but if you can push past that initial panic and use your breath to calm yourself down- that is when you can truly progress. That pain is just you fighting. Release.
And if it's still too painful after practicing your breathing and releasing, then listen to your body and relax your pose. You just set a goal for next time!
10. Have fun! This is your journey. It is never over. Mine certainly isn't. Each day, we have the chance to start again fresh. With both victories and failures, we learn more each time! Value your yoga "me time". It is a gift that will benefit your body AND your soul.
This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.