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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!
Ah, 2020—the year that truly put our sanity to the test. On top of that, something that most people use to navigate through a tough time has essentially been stripped away from us—our normal workout routines. I don’t know about you, but even skipping a week at the gym can send me into a tailspin. But several months of sheltering in place and being forced to adapt to this new normal?
That’s a different story.
While I think we can all say we’re grateful that fitness studios were quick to offer virtual classes when COVID-19 hit—there is something about constantly working out by ourselves that may trigger some of us to hit pause on our workout routines and start turning towards less robust habits. *Reluctantly raises hand*
The other day I came across a stat that really set off some alarms. According to a recent study, Americans are spending an additional two hours each day on their couch since March 2020. As of recently, I can say I’m totally guilty of a little too much R&R. While an evening of Netflix and wine once sounded like heaven on earth for most of us, I think it’s safe to say the repetition of this is starting to get kind of old. Also, Schitt’s Creek is over now, so I really don’t have any excuse to not dedicate my free time to jumping back into my at-home workouts.
I started pondering what made dial back my fitness routine in the first place? Was it a lack of motivation? No, not really. Screen fatigue? I think my Netflix history outlined above would tell you that’s a solid ‘no.’ Then it hit me—the thing that motivated me to stay on top of my fitness goals was being around other people with the same goals. Pre-COVID, going to my favorite spin studio and the local yoga hot spot was how I typically spent my social hour during the workweek. I realized the best way to amp up my at-home workout routine was to re-connect with my workout buddies and start doing virtual classes together to create that sense of community I craved.
If you’re also experiencing some form of live stream lull when it comes to your workouts, then getting a virtual workout buddy may be exactly what you need. Here’s why:
Just like in-person workouts, making plans to sweat it out with one of your friends motivates you to show up and be your best self. According to the Mindbody Wellness Index, 25% of the folks we surveyed said they found it difficult to hold themselves accountable to their workout goals on their own—and an additional 20% of people said a lack of support was responsible for missed workouts.
Everybody enjoys a little friendly competition, right? Maybe you have a friend who is a powerhouse at virtual HIIT—try signing up for a class with them to help you take your workout to a whole new level.
Getting a workout sesh in with a friend is the perfect time to try a new exercise such as virtual yoga or virtual barre. Trying something new can be scary—I get it. But by trying a new type of exercise with a friend, you can both give each other a confidence boost by acting as each other’s personal hype man.
Look, we’re all craving human interaction these days—and I know I’m not the only one who is missing weekly happy hours with friends. Luckily, fitness studios are getting creative with their virtual offerings post-workout, too! When we asked members of our MindbodyOne Community how they are keeping things interesting for their students in the virtual space, they said they are hosting monthly virtual wine dates to share fitness stories and personal victories. Not only do you get to drink wine, but you and your buddy get to meet other like-minded people at the same time.
As 2020 winds down (thank goodness), you have a unique opportunity to reconnect with your friends and take your workout sessions to the next level with a virtual workout buddy. So, why not start now? Book a virtual fitness class and encourage your friends to show up for you and themselves today.