As a yogi embracing the middle years there are many yoga trends I’m happy to let pass me by. Here are 7 of them…
Any yoga class that has been heated to a temperature worthy of an industrial laundry. My own body creates that heat spontaneously so why would I consider turning up the temperature…..on purpose?
Any yoga class that has the word ‘burn’, ‘boot’, ‘butt’ or ‘bust’ in the description. Need I say more?
Any type of yoga clothing design that incorporates large cut out panels or swathes of mesh. Worse still, not enough fabric to make a handkerchief from.
Any yoga class that has the word ‘burn’, ‘boot’, ‘butt’ or ‘bust’ in the title. Need I say more?
Any pose that involves contorting myself into the shape of a badly twisted pretzel. I know Madonna managed to get both feet around her neck and good on her, but me? With these hips?
Any yoga cleansing programs that involve a diet of foods I can’t pronounce and the need to perform four hours of acrobatic poses every day. Just the thought of it makes me pine for a lie down…..when’s savasana?
Achieving a one armed handstand in the middle of the room/beach/park/any other random open space. Didn’t happen for me at the peak of my yoga fitness so I’m happy to practice acceptance in the knowledge that it won’t happen now.
The trend for posting multiple yoga pose photographs to social media on a daily basis. Can I go get a coffee instead?
How you doing with those resolutions? Still cutting out sugar? On track to finish that book this month? Stopped checking your email every time the phone pings?
Admittedly, we’re only a couple of weeks in so you’re probably still doing well on your New Year resolutions but how do you keep it consistent? How do you really make a change to your routine that stays part of your routine going forward?
Research shows that it takes around 30 days to build a habit. That is just one month. Committing to a daily yoga practice whether it be in a class environment or home practice helps to reinforce the yoga habit which will hopefully stick around for life!
Here are a few tips for keeping your yoga going…
At first, try and commit to just one class a week. If you can’t set a regular day/time examine the class schedule and figure out the handful of classes that may work so that you can mix and match each week.
If you’re lucky enough to find the teacher you love to practice with early on find out where else he or she teaches. You may be able to combine locations to better suit your own schedule.
If budget allows consider private one on one classes.
Avoid the mindset of having to attend a full, extended 90minute session of yoga every single day creating unreasonable expectations on yourself. Work on the idea of a manageable smaller, bite size daily practice to maintain your yoga habit.
If the studio, gym or location doesn’t give you that warm fuzzy feeling and you don’t feel inspired, try somewhere else. A lot of the obstacles in attending class arise from the lack of connection you feel to the teachers and the teaching environment. If it doesn’t speak to you, go elsewhere.
Once you’ve attended a few classes, make a mental note of some of the poses or part of a sequence. Even if it is only two poses or a ten minute sequences down it forms the beginnings of a home practice.
Avoid the mindset of having to attend a full, extended 90minute session of yoga every single day creating unreasonable expectations.
Consider the idea of a more manageable, bite size daily practice to maintain your yoga habit.
If it is impossible to get to classes during the week consider signing up for weekend workshops that interest you.
If you have a yoga mat, lay it out somewhere at home. When you are about to sit in front of the TV try stepping on to the mat instead.
Lastly, be mindful of other habits in your life that distract your time and attention. Sometimes, to make space for new habits we need to lose some of the old ones. I know, easier said than done but, for example, consider how much time you spend online. You may just discover an extra 30 minutes in your day!
Keep your resolution alive by keeping your yoga practice growing. As described in the classic yoga text The Yoga Sutras, ‘when it is harder not to practice than to practice then yoga becomes firmly grounded and an integral part of life’.
The great thing about yoga is that it is such a portable practice. Once you have a few of the poses down it’s easy to practice anywhere you have space to roll out your mat.
There are many accessories and props you can purchase to assist your yoga practice (which I would recommend investing in over time) but when starting out the most important yoga item to have is a mat and, for that, you have many options.
The key thing to bear in mind is that yoga mats need to be ‘sticky’ in the sense that they grip well when you are working on them. Some mats have a texture to them which really helps with grip. Initially, you may find the mat surface to have a light, slippery sheen but this breaks down with use. You can always help break up the surface a little by rubbing with a cotton cloth.
Around 3-4mm is a great thickness for a yoga mat as it offers some cushioning to the body but isn’t so thick that it is like stepping on to a camping mattress.
1 Borrow one. Most studios do have yoga mats available to borrow so if you are not too particular about using a mat other students have used then this is a good option to start.
2 Borrow one (again!). From a family member or friend. Another good way to check out a yoga class without committing to buying something you may use three times before it’s on the yard sale pile. Which leads me to number 3
3 If you’re a yard sale, rummage sale or thrift store fiend, keep an eye out. I’ve seen mats at yard sales with the cellophane wrap still intact – an unwanted gift for the seller but a gem find for you!
4 Look for a bargain. Stores like TJ Maxx and Ross are both bursting with deals and it’s well worth a look here for a bargain priced mat. Sometimes branded with a name you may recognise, sometimes not. I’ve seen mats in both stores for twenty bucks and lower.
5 Target. It doesn’t really matter what you’re looking for – Target will always provide! They have a yoga section with a great selection of yoga gear. Mats are in the $20 – $30 dollar range.
6 Sports shops. Sports shops do stock yoga mats just be careful not to pick up the typical ‘gym’ type mat which is often much thicker, spongier and more slippery than a yoga mat.
7 Specialised Yoga & Fitness clothing stores. There are a few of these around now. Some of them carry great quality yoga mats but you might want to be doing some deep yogic breathing when you read the prices!
8 The studio. Many studios have a retail area where you can buy, among other things, yoga mats. These are generally well established yoga brands which are great in quality but do come at a price.
If you haven’t experienced a restorative yoga class you can expect a very calming experience set at a relaxed pace with an opportunity to totally destress as your body surrenders into yoga props. Sounds good, no?
‘students are trying restorative yoga and feeling the difference in their bodies and minds’
Restorative yoga is rapidly gaining popularity because of its ability to help manage the stress overload we experience in our day to day lives. Combined with the use of essential oils, restorative yoga is a practice that will bring the body and mind into balance.
Props used in a restorative practice include folded and rolled blankets, bolsters and yoga blocks along with additional support from a wall or chair for some poses. The use of multiple props arranged to suit the student’s specific physical needs enables them to hold a fully rested position for an extended period of time.
Susan Kjesbo, a certified Yoga Therapist, describes restorative yoga as ‘active relaxation where the body is supported with props to give the message to the body to let go’ and in a typical class you will be able to do just that.
A class or workshop will consist of just a handful of poses where the whole body is fully supported and each individual pose is held for several minutes. These very relaxed physical positions initiate a response where the breath deepens and physical and mental stresses can release.
A restorative yoga practice offers great health benefits and in Susan’s experience ‘students are trying restorative yoga and feeling the difference in their bodies and minds when they walk out of class and are coming back for more’.
Susan is also passionate about the use of essential oils as a complement to a restorative yoga practice. When oils make contact with the skin they are absorbed into the tissues affecting the body as a whole and, through our sense of smell, are linked to the part of our brains associated with emotion and memory which, in turn, can influence mood and mindset.
‘stress has become one of the biggest health challenges of modern life and the use of essential oils and a regular restorative yoga practice are great additions to our self care routines’, Susan Kjesbo.
If you are just getting started with essential oils, she suggests using lavender for its calming properties. ‘You can place a drop in your hands and breathe the scent from your hands or rub it in to the bottom of your feet’. If you are keen to learn more about essential oils, she also recommends that students ‘find someone knowledgable to work with or use a good reference book such as Modern Essentials’ in order to get the greatest benefit.
As we try to keep up with ever more frantic and over scheduled lives so stress has become one of the biggest health challenges of modern living. A regular restorative yoga practice and the use of essential oils are perfect additions to our personal self care routines because, as Susan points out, ‘we all operate better from a place of centeredness rather than frenzy’.
Choice is a great thing but, as you may have experienced when buying yoga pants or coffee, sometimes you can have waaaay too much choice!
Brand new students have so many yoga options that choosing can be overwhelming. As the popularity of yoga has grown so have the number of styles and schools of yoga.
Here are just a handful common to many studios…..
Hatha Yoga is the term, if you like, for the physical aspect of yoga, i.e. the poses or asanas. Any yoga class with physical poses is a hatha yoga class. Broadly speaking a class described as hatha yoga will be a gentler, slower paced class suitable for beginners. However, sometimes a hatha yoga class will be described as having different levels so it’s worth a call to the studio to check. what makes it unique? It is taught by instructors from different backgrounds and schools of study so every teacher will have a different style and interpretation.
Vinyasa loosely translates as ‘flow’. Flow or vinyasa yoga is a faster moving and warming sequence that transitions quickly through mixed sequences of poses. what makes it unique? It is a more challenging yoga class that is unique to individual instructors as poses are linked and presented in creative ways.
AshtangaA very popular style of yoga bought to the West by a yoga pioneer from India called Patthabi Jois. It is an athletic form of yoga that is fast moving and flowing (vinyasa – see above) and a popular choice for those who enjoy a challenging yoga class. what makes it unique? It is a set sequence of poses which are always practiced in the same order, every time.
Brand new yoga students have so many options to choose from which can be totally overwhelming.
Iyengar yogais another of the very popular schools of yoga brought to the West by yoga master, BKS Iyengar. It is often credited as the style of yoga that influences many of today’s styles of yoga. It is a slower paced class where poses are held for longer and lots of props (blankets, yoga blocks & yoga straps) are used for support. Even though it is slower paced it can still be challenging. what makes it unique? Focused attention to alignment in the poses with lots of verbal instruction and adjustment. Iyengar classes always use yoga props.
Hot Yoga This style of yoga has gained popularity in recent years. One of the original hot yoga schools is Bikram yoga. what makes it unique? Pre heated rooms to start with creating very hot & sweaty environments. Quite often, a fixed sequence of poses are practiced depending on the school of yoga.
Restorative Yogais becoming more and more popular in studios, restorative yoga is a much more quiet style of yoga that incorporates lots of props (blankets, bolsters & blocks) to support the body in active relaxation. Poses are set up on the floor with the body fully supported to ensure complete release. what makes it unique? Total relaxation and surrender of the body without any physical effort as the body is supported to the individuals need with blankets, bolsters and yoga blocks.
As the popularity of yoga has grown so have the number of styles and schools of yoga.
Therapeutic Yogais building in popularity as we have all become more aware of our own health and interested in our own self care. what makes it unique?Taught by very experienced instructors with in depth yoga therapy training it focuses more attention on specific issues such as injuries or physical conditions.
Yin Yogaposes apply moderate stress to the connective tissues of the body—the tendons, fascia, and ligaments—with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility whilst quietening the mind with longer pose holds. what makes it unique? Similar to restorative yoga in that the poses are held for long periods but the intention is less relaxation and more of opening the body.
Ultimately, Yoga is a practice that is unique to you so choose the class that appeals and enjoy!