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After taking a hiatus from yoga for quite a bit of time this year, I recently found myself back on my mat, and let me tell you; I feel like a beginner. But here’s the difference; because I had already developed my practice, there are things I know that a true beginner to yoga might not.
So, I've decided to share these ten tips in case you find yourself like me;—coming to yoga for the first time—or as a reminder if it’s just been a really long while.
There were many times in the initial days of my practice where I would leave class feeling so thirsty. It didn’t take me long to realize the problem—I wasn’t properly hydrated, and to make matters worse, I sweat a lot in class. To make hydration a priority, I invested in a 32 oz hydro flask. I take it with me everywhere, and I have a goal every day to drink at least two of them. The best part of all is it stays cool even in the hottest of classes!
Props are essential to my practice, but I didn’t know this until I started doing teacher training. Now I know that, I need a block in every class—no matter which kind of class I’m taking. And if it’s a yin/restore/nidra class, then I need at least one bolster. Other props that help take my practice to the next level include sandbags, eye covers, straps, and blankets. Also, don’t be afraid to get creative—rolling up a towel or a blanket can often sub for a block or a bolster. But if you have the extra funds, start building your own collection. This is useful for classes outside of the studio too – like in the park, or at home.
Nothing is worse than finding yourself in gorilla pose with a burrito in your belly. So not fun. If you have to eat right before class, try to digest something light, like a salad or protein shake. Trust me; when your gut feels good, you will have a great practice.
Don’t be afraid to try styles of yoga that are new to you. From hatha to vinyasa to power flow, you will never know what is best for you if you don’t at least venture out and try new things. If it’s not for you, then don’t go back or try it one more time, but with a different teacher (or at a different studio). Sometimes altering how and where you practice makes all the difference!
Make a note of teachers whose style(s) you like and then go to their classes more often! Some instructors lead flows at different studios, so remember to check out their schedule. Also, don’t be afraid to be front and center in their classes and let them know you are a fan of their practice. Finding a teacher that resonates will help keep you coming regularly.
When I was first getting into a routine, I’d sometimes let other people’s schedules take precedence over my own, which is a horrible way to go about making something a habit. Instead, be super intentional about your week. Add classes to your calendar and make plans around that—don’t sacrifice time with yourself on the mat for other things. Taking time for you will help you show up and be more present for the people in your life. And, if it feels right, you can always invite friends or family to meet you in class and then grab a bite afterward.
For me, the more I learn about yoga, the more that it helps me stay dedicated and take my practice off the mat, too. Ask your teachers for some of their favorites books and podcasts and start there. Maybe even a motivational mantra! A few of my go-to reads that have supported my yoga journey include Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith; The Inner Tradition of Yoga by Michael Stone; and Healthy, Happy, Sexy by Katie Silcox.
I remember in the days that I first started getting interested in yoga. I was following so many accounts on Instagram! But, in the beginning, I couldn’t tell the difference between what was healthy and what might be creating lasting damage. I also wasn’t super aware of the messaging that I was giving to my own body, one that doesn’t look like all those yogis of Instagram, I had to find accounts that made everyBODY feel good and where people were practicing yoga safely.
Who is to say what is the right amount of time to be practicing yoga? Maybe at first, one day a week is all you can manage. Maybe you can hit the ground running and practice four times a week, or maybe #yogaeverydamnday feels good in your body. The important thing is to listen to what your body is saying to you. If you need rest, you opt for a restorative class instead of a power vinyasa. Maybe you realize you need to put more emphasis on core building, so you start implementing a “sculpt” like class into your routine. Whatever you do, listen, and adjust accordingly.
Even those yogis on Instagram that can do all the backbends and handstands. Yoga is a vast practice that goes way beyond the physical postures. Any yogi worth their salt can tell you something that they are working on in their own practice. Go easy on yourself, and enjoy where you are at!
I hope this helps you to deepen and honor your practice. Namaste OMies!
Well, here we are—a couple of months into 2021. A year that we all (still) hope will be much better than the last. This past year was nothing short of a dumpster fire—between the pandemic, ongoing racial injustice, and the most dramatic election ever, 2020 was riddled with anxiety, grief, anger, and was just downright exhausting.
Heck—if somebody even dared to ask me how I was doing last year, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and say, “Omg I can’t even.” I mean, what other year can you think of that became its own expression? When something would go horribly awry, we would literally blame it on the year by saying, “2020, am I right?” complete with a sheepish chuckle —and eventually some tears when you realized just how many times you’ve said those words. Seriously, I lost count a long time ago. It was not healthy.
Sorry, tangent—where was I? Ah yes, 2021. The good news is there’s still hope that this year won’t make us want to roll into a tiny little ball on the floor and cry. Well, at least not as much as its predecessor—I’m not a miracle worker, you guys. However, I do have some wellness tips to help you stay just a little bit cooler, calmer, and collected-er this year.
If there’s one thing we learned last year, it’s that wellness is always here for us. Maybe at this time last year, your goal of going to Pilates five days a week came to a screeching halt as fitness studios were required to shut down to protect the community. For a time, we were all frazzled because our usual workouts and wellness routines were turned upside practically overnight. I think I speak for us all when I say that our favorite fitness class, and the community that comes with it, plays a huge role in our overall happiness. The good news is the wellness industry has come a long way in just under a year.
While it is true that some areas still aren’t allowing the in-studio experience for their workout classes due to the pandemic, we have more options to practice wellness safely than ever before. Right now, some studios are allowed to operate with in-person, socially distanced classes—and pretty much every studio broke into the virtual space to provide fitness classes you could participate in from the comfort of your own home. Not to mention, at-home virtual options are typically cheaper and allow you to try our studios from all over the country. With online gym memberships like Mindbody Flex, you can have access to thousands of live stream classes at your fingertips for less than $5 per class.
Look, 2020 was scary. After a year like that, it’s can be hard to tap into a positive mindset. But it’s more important now than ever before to let go of assumptions and focus on the good that 2021 can bring. This shift to acceptance will ultimately help you put your best foot forward in any situation that arises.
Take a step back and try to focus on the things we can be grateful for in this moment. Like what? Well, for starters more and more people are receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, which means things are slowly, but surely, getting back to normal. I, for one, am grateful that my at-risk family members have already received their first rounds of vaccinations and are on the path of staying healthy since they are protected from the coronavirus.
The best thing we can do right now for our mental health is to learn to give ourselves some grace through practicing self-care. And this can look different for everyone. Maybe your version of self-care comes in the form of daily journaling, getting a workout session in, curling up with a good book, or having that glass of wine while taking a bubble bath. Whatever makes YOU feel good—keep doing it.
To keep my mental health in check, something that I’ve started incorporating into my daily self-care routine is practicing mindfulness. Some days that means I focus on my breathwork practice—other days I may scroll through the Mindbody app to find a virtual meditation class or Yoga Nidra class. I’ve also embraced the motto there’s an app for that. Right now, I’m really loving the Headway app because it helps me set daily intentions from the moment I wake up with a morning survey and then checks in with me at the end of the day with an evening survey. Having the ability to write down my goals and hold myself accountable for them has really taken my self-care routine to the next level.
Some days we fall a little short of our goals—and guess what? THAT’S OKAY. Honestly, I think we should all just focus on being okay for the rest of the year. The past year caused us to be tough on ourselves and I encourage you to make this year kinder. Any new goals you set that involve changing habits or overhauling your lifestyle will likely have some setbacks. So, when that happens, remember to be compassionate with yourself.
If there’s anything I want you to take away from this blog post is to let go of the illusion that perfection is always the end goal. When in doubt I always remind myself of something my favorite spin instructor (hey Steph!) says: “If you look for perfection, you'll never be content. Just focus on your growth.” Allow that to sink in and make it a goal to remind yourself of this every single day.
And remember: You don’t have to—and really shouldn’t—give up hope that things will get better this year, even if you feel overwhelmed now. Having a positive mindset is never a silly thing. In fact, it is actually quite admirable; you’re an admirable badass.