Monday, January 6, 2014

January Yoga: Update

I use this calendar, and daily journaling, to keep me honest!
Happy New Year All! I hope the year has treated you nicely thus far. My 2014 has been awfully cold--I'm sure some of you can relate! Regardless, I've managed to keep up with my January resolution of doing yoga once a day. I'm already feeling the benefits, if my sore muscles are any judge. In case anyone wants to join in with me, I thought I would share my tips for doing yoga at home.

One of the best things about yoga is that you can do it in a class, if you like social exercising, or by yourself, in the privacy of your own home. So far I've only had the chance to do yoga solo. The best resource I've found for this is Do Yoga With Me.* This site has many free yoga class videos, all with high quality production values, and wonderful, approachable teachers. Their classes range from gentle chair yoga, to challenging pilates-yoga-fusion classes, so there's always a class for the mood you are in. My three favorite teachers are Melissa McLeod, Nicky Jones, and Kim Wilson.

If you are doing yoga for the first time, or you're not very flexible, start with McLeod's Bend and Stretch video. I always get a good stretch from this class, and it doesn't bother my knees. The routine is simple and McLeod's instructions are very simple to understand, meaning you won't have to spend the whole class craning your neck to see the video from downward dog.

Burnout to Bliss, taught by Jones, is my absolute favorite class, and what you'll find me doing most days. Clocking in at just over an hour, Burnout to Bliss is a wonderful full body sequence that provides just enough of a challenge to break a sweat. I find that the pose variations offered by Jones make this routine good for both flexible and not-so-flexible days. I always feel happy, relaxed and recharged at the end of this routine. Just be careful-- on more than one occasion I have fallen asleep during savasana (the part when you lay on the floor, for you laymen).

Now, if you really want to feel the burn, then you want Kim Wilson. With cheery polka dot pants and a lovely head of red hair, Wilson is your gleeful guide through several pilates-yoga fusion classes. My favorite is Core Fantastic, and I am working on integrating Armilicious and Bodacious Bootie into my routine as well. Silly names aside, these classes are perfect if you want to make your strength training more interesting, or your yoga less tranquil.

If none of these videos seem right to you, browse around the site. Every teacher has a different style, and what works for me might not work for you.

If you already have your class picked out, but don't know how to start, let me share a few of the things I've learned.

First and foremost, find a quiet room with lots of floor space, shut the door, and tell everyone to leave you alone. Seriously, they will live. Yoga, like any other exercise, is first and foremost for you. You deserve alone time to be good to your body, so don't feel guilty about taking that time!

Dress comfortably, preferably in stretchy clothes. The more body-hugging your outfit is, the better, because loose clothing gets twisted around and uncomfortable. However, the bottom line is that you should wear whatever makes you the most comfortable, physically and mentally. Some days I wear running leggings and a sports bra, other days I wear a big comfy sweatshirt dress and shorts.

If you don't have a yoga mat, don't worry. I have used a blanket folded up, though be careful on tile, because that blanket can slip. If you have carpet, you might be able to get away with just a towel, depending upon how much cushioning you need. Currently, I do my yoga on the bed, simply because there is no other room in my little apartment. However, be careful if you have a very soft mattress, as sometimes it may cause you to hyper extend your wrists, and will make standing poses more difficult to balance in.

Finally, try to do yoga on an empty(ish) stomach, or you will find all of those twists and forward folds nauseating rather than relaxing.

So, how are your resolutions going? Has anyone else made a 12 in 2014 list? Please feel free to share your thoughts below.

*This is an unpaid, unsponsored endorsement,

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