Here's how to beat that seasonal fitness slump.
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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!
I’m celebrating week 21 of pregnancy. Baby is the size of a banana or bell pepper. I don’t know why it’s so fun to compare a growing fetus to a fruit or veggie, but it gives me a much-needed laugh while I make note to avoid consuming bananas for the week. This is also ultrasound week. I’m no longer able to bring my husband and daughter to the appointment, but we understand that these restrictions are put in place to protect us. Like so many pregnant women and mothers across the world, I’m doing my best to adapt to the new norm and changes that COVID-19 has introduced to my already stressful life.
Pregnant women across various metro cities are beginning to face fears of delivering their baby without a birthing partner by their side for the duration of the hospital stay. Family members and friends may not be able to meet baby in-person for quite some time, so those special first meetings happen over FaceTime. New mommy groups switch to virtual meetups. I’m feeling the weight of it all (and I’m not referring to the extra weight I’ve gained from WFH snacking), the heaviness of the unknown that we all carry as we navigate through all of this change.
Tuning into nightly news or googling the latest COVID-19 death tolls is a surefire way to lose sleep, but we do it anyway because we want to stay informed as we wrap our heads around how much this pandemic will change our world. Maybe your anxiety and personal despair grow as you hear from a friend who recently lost their job or read about your favorite restaurant unable to keep its doors open. Canceled events, long-anticipated vacations, and temporarily closed fitness studios are not only inconvenient, but force us to reframe our attitudes.
I can hear my mother’s voice telling me to relax. She tells me that the baby can feel my stress, and that isn’t good for anyone. I begin to feel guilty about my inability to quiet the negative feelings and decide that something needs to change. We can’t change what the media reports, the pressure at work, or predict how long it will take for the economy to recover. But what if we reminded ourselves to do the best with what we have and keep moving forward—one day at a time. Amidst the chaos, we’re becoming a stronger, kinder community, and that is truly a beautiful thing to see.
The journey to my second trimester wasn’t an easy one. I suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage a few years ago. I made time for my body and mind to heal after the loss. Float tank sessions, meditation, vinyasa power flow, and frequent facials helped me connect with my body. I can’t say self-care alone healed my depression, but it certainly helped me discover the importance of self-love and repaired my self-confidence.
After many pregnancy tests and negative results, I was at peace with accepting that having another child may not be in the cards for me. Fast forward to age 37. I was shocked to see a + symbol on three pregnancy stick tests. Although I’m medically referred to as a geriatric pregnancy, my OB/Gyn said there was no reason for me to go into this pregnancy with a negative mindset. Eat healthy, stay active, and focus on being POSITIVE. Maybe the pursuit of happiness and path to personal wellness was really that simple.
On my 38th birthday, I celebrated my 20th week of pregnancy—I’ll refer to it as the “Pregnant in a Pandemic Party.” I blew out a candle on a warm chocolate chip cookie that my husband and daughter baked together. They were my only party guests, but I didn’t need a room full of people at a fancy restaurant to feel pure gratitude. People across the world continue to test positive for COVID-19. I was safe in my home with my family. I was right where I needed to be.
Although the past few weeks have brought a wide range of emotions for all of us, I’m choosing to use this extra time to self-reflect and bond with family. I’m mentally recording my five-year-old daughter as she whispers to my stomach and tells her baby sister that August couldn’t come soon enough. This is life. So perfectly imperfect at times, but beautiful in more ways than we know. We may be housebound, down to the last few rolls of toilet paper, and our hair hasn’t seen a salon in over a month. The loss of control and routine over our daily lives can make us feel like failures. Trust me; we’re not. We were never meant to get through this alone. Together, we will get through this—one day at a time.