Monday 25 April 2016

Tips for your yoga home practice

The yoga world can be intimidating. If looking at the bendy super-yogis who twist themselves in half when you can't even touch your feet makes you want to give up, don't - take a deep breath, and let me tell you a secret. 

They all started where you are right now. 
While some people are naturally more flexible than others, everybody had to start at the beginning. Yoga is not like a race with a start- and finish- line. It doesn't have a finish line. It's a practice, a commitment to yourself, and it isn't about doing poses perfectly at all. 
During your time on the mat, you connect with yourself, slow your racing mind down, and forget about what's troubling you. It's all about you. 
Learning some cool postures is just a great side-effect ;-)

I have been practicing yoga at home regularly for over a year now. Lately, a few people have asked me how I got started and what a typical practice looks like. I'd love to show you!

I always, always start with sun salutations to warm up my body. You can click here for a step-by-step guide (with pictures) that breaks down what a sun salutation is. "My" yoga teacher Kino is demonstrating it here:

2. YouTube Videos.
YouTube is my secret weapon. I haven't bought a single DVD or been to a yoga studio in the last year, because YouTube is wonderful. On some days I simply use it to have a certain pose explained to me. There are lots of 2- and 3-minute videos that are great for doing just that. On other days I will do longer videos. Two of my faves are below.

If you want to skip the talking and go straight to the workout, go to minute 4:44

If you want to go straight to the workout, go to minute 5:12

And a quickie for core strength (it's tough, but so good):

Here is a playlist of 8 videos that are part of Kino's yoga for beginners series: Yoga playlist.  

3. Instagram challenges.
Before I explain what they are, let me tell you that Instagram is the single-biggest reason why I started yoga, fell in love with it, and continue to show up on my mat at least 5 times a week. 
It provides me with the 3 magic ingredients to keep going:  
Accountability, community, and inspiration.  

As an introvert, the thought of  having to go out to a studio 5 times a week is daunting. Not only because of the cost (yoga classes are expensive), but also because knowing that I have to pack a bag, get into my car, drive the 15 or so minutes to get to the nearest studio, look for parking, go inside, small-talk ... exhausts me before I even get on the mat. Realistically, I know I wouldn't stick to it.
But I also know that my self-motivation isn't that great to do my practice faithfully all by myself day after day. 

That's where the Instagram yoga community comes in. It has been a total game changer for me, and I hope it will be for you, too. 

So what are yoga challenges?

Kino May yoga challenge
 This is a beginner one, perfect for you! What are you waiting for?
Follow the hosts Kino and Kerri and get your yoga on!

Yoga teachers from all around the world are hosting these now. Simply put, they post a picture of a yoga pose, and you try to copy it. So what's the big deal, I hear you ask?

What I didn't expect when I did my very first challenge in March last year, was the level of support I would get. It blew me away, and still does. Other yogis comment, praise, help out, and motivate you to keep going. They keep me accountable in a very non-judgemental way: Nobody really cares if I show up or not, but I care. Plus, documenting my journey with photos has the benefit of seeing progress when you often don't feel it. 

These are my three very simple tips for my home practice. 

I realize that posting photos of yourself on social media isn't everyone's cup of tea. A yoga studio has the same benefits: It will keep you accountable, motivate you, and provide you with a community. 
The trick is figuring out what works for you, your personality and your life. 

If you're looking for more yoga resources, here are a few I recommend: 
Do You Yoga: An online yoga journal with tons of tips, videos, news, and inspiration. 
The Journey Junkie: My favourite yoga blogger Allie has lots of great tips and video tutorials. 
Laura Kasperzak: A badass super-yogi who can fly! Don't believe me? Click here

Meeting your teacher in person: Biggest motivation ever 

What are you waiting for? Get on the mat, and fall in love with yourself.
You can do it!



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