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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!
Acupuncture is extremely beneficial for various ailments ranging from digestion to carpal tunnel, but the level of effectiveness varies from person-to-person. I’ve had Sciatica patients spend months combating their back and leg pain, and others hop off the table in two hours, never needing a follow-up appointment. Some rotator cuffs take six weeks; others take two years.
Why is this?
While your body's response to acupuncture depends on the complaint or injury, it also depends on your overall health, and how well you take care of the injured site between sessions. If we eat junk food all the time, are inactive, don’t sleep well, or overwork ourselves, then injury is imminent, and recovery is going to be hard. Equally, if we ignore an injury or don't care for it, then we will likely stay injured for longer.
So, let’s break down what’s best for you when it comes to acupuncture:
“How often should you get acupuncture with specific ailments?”
This is different for everyone, but here are some general guidelines.
More is better.
Acupuncture has cumulative effects, so while most feel relief after one session, it likely will not have resolved the issue. Multiple follow up sessions are needed, and for your own comfort, it’s recommended that you use sessions before the effects have completely worn off each time.
Every time you receive a session, your relief should be more significant, and the effects should last longer—bringing the injury closer to resolution. With this in mind; the worse the injury, the more frequent you’ll want to receive acupuncture. Several times a week is standard, that way you will get out of discomfort faster, and you’ll need fewer sessions overall.
Understanding acute versus chronic ailments.
Some acute symptoms like nausea, dizziness, bleeding, swelling, or anxiety will clear up on the spot. However, for recent injuries pertaining to tissues, like a strained muscle, you can use three acupuncture sessions in one week with great effect. For example, with strained lower back muscles, you will feel less pain in one session, a significant reduction in inflammation and symptoms within three sessions. An ankle sprain is a little more serious and may take two or three weeks, but the general idea is the same.
With stubborn pain, or chronic issues like sciatica, skin rashes, nerve pain, hormone irregularities, it can take a bunch of sessions to see lingering results. Often there will be relief right after each session, but the symptoms return quickly (albeit with a little less vengeance). This just means the results are happening in smaller increments. For this reason, your practitioner will tell you to come in over three times a week for two or three weeks so you’ll get more relief faster, but you can space the sessions out as you begin to feel better.
“What can I do to make my acupuncture benefits bigger?”
As mentioned, how you care for yourself between sessions makes a big difference. Here’s a few pro tips.
Your practitioner will give you specific directions they want you to follow for your ailment, but generally, after an acupuncture visit, it is wise to drink a lot of water and rest.
Here’s the obvious thing we don’t often consider. If you get instant relief for your pulled hamstring, but then you go running the next day, it’s going to take forever to heal! That injured body part needs to be pampered and catered to. Your acupuncturist will give you food, supplement, lifestyle, and movement suggestions to use between sessions– use them all.
I’ve seen countless patients walk in with frozen shoulder, spend 90 minutes in the chair with various points and stimulation techniques, and then leave swinging their arm painlessly with 50% more range of motion. If they eat well, do their physical therapy, and are kind to their shoulders, the effects will last. Then, next time, we can add another 50% on to their range of motionBut, if they paint a house or swing a baseball, then I see them go right back to square one overnight. How we take care of ourselves between sessions really matters.
You will want to note any changes; no matter how small or irrelevant they seem. Your practitioner is armed with many protocols and techniques. They will always start with the combo that they’ve seen work best for your complaint, from there they will work backward or tweak it slightly based on the information you give them. Make sure to tell them every detail, even if it seems unrelated.
One lady, with unrelenting pain, finally revealed a game-changing nugget to me while nonchalantly laughing about her need to wear neck scarves everywhere. I found out she had been experiencing chills and had a significant aversion to wind during the summer. This “irrelevant” snippet made me radically change the protocol, and she was pain-free and healing rapidly within four sessions.
So, there you have it. How acupuncture benefits various body parts depends on the area concerned, but also on how we treat our bodies before, during, and after injury.