This is the first of a series of strengthening classes. If this was challenging for you, I recommend doing this practice three times a week until it gets easier. Then, move onto the next Leg Day Vinyasa Flow #2.
Props: Optional Yoga Strap or like item; if you can’t reach your feet behind you easily.
Enjoy! Be well. Remember to breathe. 🙏🏼Namaste my friends🙏🏼
A NOTE ON “YOGA for WEIGHT LOSS”: Practicing yoga alone is not a weight loss remedy. When used in combination with healthy habits off the mat it can be a great help. Especially to lower stress levels and find a deeper connection with yourself; physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. You can indeed get your heart rate up with some practices, you can sweat, strengthen, tone, detox, and burn calories. To be quite honest, I don’t love using this term, but it’s a VERY high ranking SEO term; meaning people search it A LOT. I’m using it to direct more people to become aware of their mind body connection while working into a healthier lifestyle. 💫
Have you ever had an ‘A-ha’ moment during your yoga practice?
Don’t worry if you didn’t.
Not every yoga practice is a life changing moment but instead builds moments to a life change.
After Savasana, I always prompt this:
“Take a few moments to check in with how you feel. How do you feel physically, emotionally, mentally, energetically, and spiritually?”
What does all this mean?
Yoga isn’t just the physical practice. Yes, we get on the mat, we move physically but when we move physically, it effects everything else.
Ever go into a fitness class or dance class in a foul mood but walk out feeling SO MUCH BETTER?? Yeah, it’s because of all the beautiful hormonal changes that happen when we move our bodies…
Moving your body has been scientifically proven to keep us healthy. It creates the happy hormones; Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, & Endorphins.1
Once you stop moving, your body starts to weaken and things start to deteriorate. Physically AND mentally. Because…MOVEMENT IS LIFE.
I digress…(and I gracefully step off my soap-box)
Here’s what I’m really asking you to observe and think about at the end of each practice.
Notice what you feel physically. The good, the not-so-good, and the bad. i.e. tingling, tightness, weakness, stretched out, muscle fatigue, soreness, etc. ~ By taking notice, you learn what poses, what style of yoga, what breath work, and what meditations work for you and your body.
2. What do you feel emotionally? i.e. boredom, excitement, sad, happy, peaceful, or maybe you can’t label what you feel. ~ If a wave of emotion comes up, do your best to experience it, even if it’s uncomfortable. By experiencing it, you’re allowing that energy to release. Releasing allows space for new energies to replace them.
3. What’s going on mentally? i.e. are worries popping up, are you anxious about something, are you thinking about something else or someone else, do you want to stay longer, (Monkey Mind) etc. ~ A big part of practicing yoga, is observing our thoughts. This is the perfect time to do so. Just ‘cause the thought is there, doesn’t mean it’s true or you have to act on it.
4. How do you feel energetically? i.e. are you fidgety, fatigued, sleepy, calm, re-energized, etc. ~ These signals help you figure out if and how the practice helped you, or not.
5. What, if anything, has come up spiritually? i.e. any ‘A-ha’ moments, epiphanies, or personal realizations, any noticeable changes within yourself; how you cope with stress, life changes, beliefs, etc. ~ Sometimes, this is as simple as an answer to a complex issue you were having…maybe how to resolve a relationship issue or how to execute a plan.
I’ll say this: not every practice is going be a life changing epiphany. Sometimes we get these awesome ‘A-ha!’ moments but more often than not, the changes are subtle and appear over time. This is why having a consistent yoga practice is important. Small changes culminate to create awareness and mindfulness.
Have you had an ‘A-ha’ moment during your yoga practice? What light bulb went on for you?
This list is of benefits that I have personally experienced through my time doing yoga, and keep in mind, this list is always growing.
Everyone learns and moves at their own pace.
The Breath DOES matter.
How to listen to my body; what type of practice is my body calling for? Vinyasa, Yin, Gentle Flow, pranayama, etc.
Learn to practice calmness.
Learning my boundaries; when I go too far or not far enough.
Push my creativity.
How to connect with others without placing judgment on them.
How to recognize when ego takes over.
How to tame my ego (daily workout).
Yoga asana is accessible to everyone.
Yoga is NOT just poses; there is so much more depth within the practice (8 Limbs).
Yoga practice is what you want it to be; asana, meditation, pranayama, philosophy, etc.Meditation can be done in SO MANY different ways; breath work, focal points, moving meditations, visualizations, etc.
Yoga is grounding.
Yoga teaches us to connect and at the same time allows for detachment.
There is no “right” way…guidelines for safety, yes, but no “right” way.
It’s okay not to practice sometimes.
Yoga calms my anxieties and sometimes causes them but I’m never sorry I practiced.
How to find a practice that works for people with health issues.
To be flexible; not just physically but mentally and emotionally.
To open my heart and be kinder to others but also to myself.
To recognize that mind, body, and emotion are intrinsically connected.
Deep breaths are little gifts to ourselves.
There are many, many different types of yoga practices out there…some ancient, some modern…it doesn’t matter which you choose as long as it helps you become a better version of yourself.
Yoga practice can give a sensation of calmness, feeling grounded, feeling connected, secure, at peace, energized, and balanced, all at the same time.
It’s okay to have a sense of humor about yoga…it’s not all serious all the time.
Yoga practice isn’t all rainbows and unicorns…it has uncomfortable moments.
Each day the body, the mind, and our energies are different.
Home practiceNo make upNo hair stylingNo fussJust me, my breath and my mat.
Starting a home practice can be difficult. Some tips to help you get on your mat and into your practice.
Create a welcoming environment with as little distraction as possible. Only have what you might need for your practice; mat or mats, block, strap, pillows, bolsters, music, etc. If wall hangings, plants or statues are inspiration for you, add them. If you have limited space, make the best of it. You really only need a space that’s about 2ft x 6ft.
A note on this: I find for myself, if the mat and props can stay where I like it, without having to set it up and break it down every time I want to practice; I’m more likely to practice.
Put the devices away. You don’t need your tablet and your phone and your laptop and your mp3 player. If you are streaming a yoga class or are using your device for music that’s cool. Be mindful and just use it for that—no Facebook, no Instagram, no texting; you get the idea.
Schedule the time for yourself. It may take a while to figure out what time of day works for you. And once you find it…it may change. Several times. ‘Cause, you know, life happens. Allow yourself the flexibility to adjust the time but always show up for it.
Once you manage to get on your mat, then what? You might find that you get on the mat and just sit there…or you might get on the mat and notice you want/need a pedicure (true story). Maybe you just stay in downward facing dog for a while, or childs pose, maybe you do sun salutations until your arms drop off…no worries because…
YOU GOT ON THE MAT! ????
This is the start of creating your home practice…just keep getting on your mat consistently and you will find your way. Trust the process and trust your intuition. Once you get started you may find yourself lost in exploration which is so flippin’ awesome!How do you know what to do?If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, in person or online, you can use that as reference for your home practice. Taking a class from someone else can inspire more asanas or creative flows that maybe you didn’t think of; it’s ok to use those and play.
**Keep in mind: Yoga is not a competitive sport.**
The point is not to be more flexible or do a better arm balance than the bendy people that you saw online…it’s to get familiar with your own body & breath, to calm your mind, use your body and gain all around health. Once you really get into your practice then use those bendy people as inspiration instead of an intention of being better than someone else. Ego can creep up when you least expect it. There’s a quote from ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov that expresses this idea;
“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to to dance better than myself.”
This rings true to any achievement you strive for just replace “dance” with your goal of choice. MEDITATION PRACTICEIf meditation is more your style or you want to incorporate more meditation in your life, then do it. Set up a comfy place to sit upright so you’re less likely to fall asleep. SET A TIMER.
Start off small if you’re just starting out in your meditation practice….30 seconds is good if you’re not used to sitting still. Build your tolerance from there. Baby steps.
Your eyes can be open slightly or closed. Whichever is more comfortable and whichever offers less distractions. If you chose open eyes, focus on either the tip of your nose or something low in front of you. This offers less distraction and better focus.
Your mind WILL wonder. It’s what minds do. The purpose of meditation isn’t to void all thoughts. Honestly, if you did that, you might be brain dead—yikes! Instead, observe what comes up; random thoughts, distractions, love, hate, annoyance, peacefulness, memories, etc.
A note on this: You are not your thoughts…let them pass. If tears, laughter or other reactions come up; experience them…it will pass.
My favorite type of meditation is focusing on the breath but there are SO many different types of meditation out there. I encourage you to explore and find what resonates with you.
Yoga isn’t just the physical practice; there’s 7 other limbs of the ‘yoga tree’.
But we’ll get to that in another Blog post.
The longer answer goes like this:
Since Yoga isn’t just a physical practice, yes, I practice yoga everyday but in different aspects.
Sometimes it’s 5 min of meditation in the simple form of sitting still and breathing or listening to music that inspires me.
Sometimes it’s lifting weights. The breath-movement coordination in this activity is just as soothing to the mind as a yoga asana practice. Plus it helps keep ‘yoga butt’ at bay.
On some days, I practice some kriyas (cleansing); oil pulling, neti pot, etc.
If my body and spirit need rest, I take it.
I am intuitive with myself and on most days, I do what it asks me to do; a full yoga practice, planks, a ballet barre, dancing in the kitchen; whatever my body calls for, I do. Just the other day, I started with a series of planks, moved into shoulder stand and headstand, then did a ballet barre. Yesterday, I did nothing. My body, my mind, my emotions needed a day to just chill.
Now, if you are working toward a goal, consistency is needed within your practice. In order to get your body and mind to understand, repetition is the way to discovery. Nuances reveal themselves within poses the more you do them.
Other ways to practice yoga:
Being mindful and aware of the present moment is yoga.
Taking a deep breath and really feeling it, is yoga.
Feeling the breeze, sunlight, or raindrops on your skin is yoga.
Spending time in nature or with animals is yoga.
Doing what brings you a sense of wholeness or connection to the universe, planet, society, a partner or friend and mostly yourself, is yoga.
You’ll know when this happens — a surge of energy comes through the body and mind, mood improves, you may feel like you want to tackle a huge project.