yoga

How Yoga Changes You

 

IMG_5718Recently I’ve become more aware of the journey of yoga students from the first class they ever take to their current class years later.  I’m in awe of the vast journey that they have gone through and how much they have changed over the course of their practice.  Here are three big ways that yoga changes you.

More Good, Less Bad

At this point we all know how good yoga is for us.  When we start to add good into our lives, we naturally let the bad fall out.  You might not even realize it happening.  It might start little by little with food choices. You took a yoga class, you’re feeling good and have that glow about you, now what will you have for lunch? You’re normal burger will make you feel down and tired so you opt for something more nutrient dense and green because you know that will keep your post yoga glow going strong.  You’ll start to notice the things in your life that make you feel good and the things that cause you pain.  As you become more aware of each, you’ll be more inclined to keep the good and clear the bad.

Community

A good yoga studio will have a thriving, supportive community that surrounds it.  I’ve made so many friends from yoga and we’ve got each other’s backs.  If you’re new to yoga or a studio, make new friends and become a part of that community.  Not only will it will hold you accountable to stay consistent with your practice, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people who only want to see you grow.  Plus it’s pretty amazing to be able to talk to someone about the joys of Ayurveda or how you flew your first ever bakasana and have them totally understand what you’re talking about.

Confidence

Yoga will 100% build your confidence.  On a physical level, you’ll start to feel more graceful, stand a little taller and become more aware of you posture.  You’ll feel less stiff and will move with more ease and lightness.  Mentally, you’ll feel powerful in your own skin. You’ll become proud of who you are as an individual and the unique qualities only you have.  You’ll understand your breath and how you can use it to your advantage.  Your skin will look better (see number one) and you will remove the negative from your life leaving you to feel like the superwomen you always knew you were.

Lifting, yoga

5 Kettlebell Exercises to Improve Your Yoga Practice

Yoga is all about balance. Everything you do on the right side, you also do on the left side. Every peak pose has a counterbalance pose, like shoulderstand to fish. It’s an equally designed flow to make you stable and whole.

However, I often find that yoga practitioners have too much lower body flexibility and not enough lower body strength. If you have open hips and a lot of flexibility it’s so easy to sink into a pose like extended side angle and just hang out there like it’s no big deal. But that’s not yoga in its truest form. There is no activation there.

When we can start to add strength into our movements, we can start to activate and engage different muscles in our bodies and find that perfect balance of strength and flexibility. In extended side angle we can begin by pressing into our heels to activate our quads and hamstrings, this will take some pressure out of the hip and bring the line of energy up rather than down. When we start to activate muscles and focus on the line of energy you’re creating, the practice as a whole completely shifts into something truly amazing. I always say, it’s one thing to just show up to your mat, put your body in the positions and just hang out, sure you’ll get some benefit to that. But it’s a whole other world of a practice when you begin to let the poses work for you by using alignment and engaging muscles.

FullSizeRender

Enter kettlebells, my new found love. KB’s are extremely versatile and I highly suggest you go and purchase one for your house. You can find one at any sporting goods store and I’ve even seen them at TJMaxx. And as much as I love going to the gym, I’m still pretty lazy. I like each one of my exercises to work multiple muscles at a time, not just one. KB’s are amazing for whole body training.

Here are 5 kettlebell exercises to improve your yoga practice from standing poses, to arm balances to funky variations of all sorts:

  • KB Walking Lunges – Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves
    If you have one KB, hold it right in front of your chest. If you have two KB’s hold one in each hand alongside of you. For an added ab bonus, hold different weighted KB’s in each hand.
  • KB Swings – Hamstrings, Glutes, Shoulders, Calves, Lower Back
    I prefer to hold the KB with both hands however this link shows it with one hand.
  • KB Russian Twists – Abs, Lower back
  • KB Goblet Squats – Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Shoulders
  • KB Figure 8’s – Abs, Glutes, Hamstrings, Shoulders

Give them a try and have fun!

lifestyle, yoga

10 Yoga Related Items You Don’t Need (The Anti New-Yogi Gift Guide)

photo-1429277096327-11ee3b761c93

Tis the season for shopping and it got me thinking….

There is about to be a huge push of yoga related products coming our way and it’s a bunch of stuff we don’t actually need to get started practicing yoga.

When it comes to starting a new activity, I tend to feel the need to buy an item or two in order to get excited about and commemorate starting a new venture.  When I started running, I thought I absolutely needed a cool running watch. Now I don’t even know where that watch is because I realized it is easier to just use my phone (also, I don’t even run anymore).  When I started yoga, I definitely needed a $108 dollar decorative mala necklace because HELLO that is truly what will allow me to find inner peace.  Insert eye roll.

So in honor of stepping back from the “I absolutely need this item in order to make my yoga practice complete” here are 10 yoga related items that you don’t need at all to start practicing yoga.

  1. Mediation cushion: I have one and I love it when it’s the twice a year that I actually meditate at home. But really it’s a pillow, and I’m sure you have at least 8 pillows in your home. So grab one, put it under your butt and voila, you have yourself a meditation cushion.
  2. Expensive Fashion Mala: I bet you’ll pay $108 for it (because that is the magical yoga number so it means it’s extra inner-peace worthy). You’ll be too scared to actually use it to meditate because it cost so much money.
  3. Leg warmers: They are super cute, I know. But to actually practice in leg warmers is a pain. If you’re always cold, wear thicker pants and leave the leg warmers to the ballerinas.
  4. Dharma Wheel: These are all the rage now. And they seem pretty awesome. But any similar size ball that you probably have floating around in your garage will do comparable effects.
  5. 84,361,894 Water Bottles: Because you will only take one with you at a time, maybe two… #nuffsaid
  6. Latest and greatest yoga mat: There are a million different kinds of mats out there and for the most part as long as they are sticky they are good. If you have one that works, why get another kind?
  7. Bolster: See #1. Grab a bigger pillow from your living room/bedroom and place where needed.
  8. Yoga Socks/Gloves: You know those sticky on one side gloves and socks that are supposed to make you not slip in downdog and such. Use your bandhas darling and just say no to gloves & socks.
  9. Self-Help Books That Everyone Else is Reading: I love a good self-help book. But I’ve wasted a lot of money on books that I knew I wouldn’t like but bought it anyway because everyone else seemed to be reading it. I would try to like it but end up not being able to get past the first few chapters. Read what you love and leave the rest in the bookstore for someone else.
  10. Green Juice: $9+ for a beverage is insane. All I have to say about this is don’t feel obligated to drink green juice after yoga. There are many other equally healthy (if not healthier) cheaper options to get more bang for your buck.

 Save your money for those much needed yoga retreats that you’re absolutely going to want to take!