I’ve been doing yoga fairly regularly for about five months now and I’m absolutely hooked. I can feel how it’s changing me in so many ways from becoming more optimistic to having more confidence in my body, so I wanted to put in a post a few lessons I’ve learned so far, and a guide through my (almost) daily home practice.
Let me start by saying that I am not someone who exercises. I’ve always wanted to be, and have bought several pairs of trainers over the years in the “tomorrow I will become someone who runs!” wave of optimism we all get from time to time. But I’m not a runner. I used to ride horses very actively and my level of fitness was always pretty good due to the hours I spent in the saddle each day, but over the past five years living in London that level of fitness has flat lined.
I have also spent about ten years saying “tomorrow I will become someone who does yoga!”, without it ever sticking – until I finally discovered a way to ease myself into becoming someone who does do yoga! And five months later, I’m still at it. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far:
1 :: Everyone develops at a different pace, there is no set path when it comes to yoga. I can kick up into a handstand (from hours of practice as a kid) and hold it for two seconds, but I can’t touch my toes. I can wrap my legs around my head, but my ankles don’t reach the floor in downward dog. What this all means is that I have strong arms and an underdeveloped sense of self-preservation combined with very flexible hips, but from my lower back to the bottom of my feet I have almost no give. For me this means that even the most basic of basic yoga postures is extremely challenging, but that’s just the path I have to travel down and I can’t compare it to anyone else.
2 :: Don’t try to skip steps on that path, it hurts a lot. As I can’t do downward dog, and I decided that this is the most basic of positions and my silly body should be able to do it, I pushed myself and ended up with a pulled achilles tendon and three trips to the osteopath for my lower back. There are no cheats in yoga, and trying to circumvent the proper way of doing things kind of defeats the purpose of teaching yourself and your body that good things take time. The goal is the development, not the end result.
3 :: Don’t trust the internet. I think we all know by now that nothing is exactly as it seems on blogs and Instagram, or at least you’re not getting the full story from just one post. For example, I follow this super inspirational yoga account of a girl who was amazing at yoga after just one year and I was using that as a standard of what I could accomplish with yoga if I just pushed myself. Well, one day I asked her what her level of fitness was before she started (as I had always assumed she started from scratch) – turns out she has been an athlete her entire life and has pretty much always rocked a six-pack! She did not develop her amazing fitness level in just a year, as I had previously assumed. Instagram is great for Yoga inspiration, just be careful about what you assume.
I initially decided to do yoga at home because I’ve had trouble finding a class I really enjoy that fits in with my schedule. But honestly the biggest reason I do it at home is because I can’t afford to go to a studio, yoga can get crazy expensive! I have a general practice I can do on my own, with some of my favourite poses and just generally moving in a way that feels good – but because I’m new to this and my knowledge of postures is limited, here are some online classes I use.
1 :: Kino MacGregor’s practice kit has been really great for me. It’s helping me to understand what muscles need to be activated in what poses, and it goes through the fundamentals of yoga that you can bring into your practice as a whole.
2 :: The Ultimate Home Yoga Practice with Erin Motz was my first introduction into home yoga practice and I still refer to it all the time when trying to remember how to do a certain flow.
3 :: Rachel Brathen’s home practice is new to me but I’m really enjoying it. It’s easy-going and relaxing, but super challenging on the muscles and includes a couple of classes that making doing yoga when you really don’t want to, super easy.
None of these options are free and they do require an investment, but it’s one-off and totally worth it.
Do you do yoga? I would love to hear about your practice! What do you do, where do you do it? On your own? In class? Where? Tell me all about it :)
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