136. So You Want to be a Yogi?

Laura sent me an email the other day thanking me for encouraging her to continue yoga when she waws feeling discouraged which inspired me to write a yoga post. I asolutely love yoga. I attend class at my gym two or three times a week, and one of these days, I’m going to get caught down dogging in my cubicle during work.

Yoga has many benefits. It calms the mind and cleanses the body. It improves focus, strength, and clarity. It leaves you feeling energized and refreshed. Yoga is a total body, mind, and spirit workout. It can be incredibly intimidating as well. With so many styles, complicated poses, and difficult to pronounce, let alone spell, words, getting started can be a scary experience. So what’s a yoga newbie to do?

1) Determine your yoga style. Research the various yoga practices to determine which style is right for you. Do you have a low tolerance for high temperatures? Bikram yoga probably isn’t for you. Are you looking for yoga that brings focus to your mind while still getting your heart pumping? Try the Ashtanga or Vinyasa traditions (sometimes referred to as power yoga). There are a number of online resources available to help you determine your yoga style and get you started. There are pose guides, sample flows, and even yoga podcasts available online if you want to give yoga a try on your own before heading to a class.

2) Gather your equipment. You don’t need anything more than your body to practice yoga; however, there are some tools that will make your practice easier.

  • A yoga mat. Yoga mats are a type of fitness mat that provides padding and traction during practice. Many gyms and yoga studios have mats you can use during class. You can also purchase a yoga mat at pretty much any store that carries fitness equipment.
  • A yoga block and strap. Yoga blocks and straps aren’t necessary, but they are very helpful. Blocks and straps help maintain form while building flexibility. You don’t need to buy anything fancy. An old neck tie makes a great yoga strap, and a large book could serve as a yoga block.
  • Yoga wear. You don’t need specific clothing to practice yoga, but clothing should allow you to move, twist, and bend freely while still being snug enough to stay in place. You don’t want your shirt flipping over your head as you hold downward facing dog.

3) Be patient. It takes a long time to build flexibility and strength. Chances are you won’t walk in to your first yoga class and master crow pose or 8-legged staff pose. It takes months or even years to master these poses. Focus on your abilities right now and slowly work toward more complicated poses.

4) Stop comparing yourself to others. Yoga is a personal practice. You should always be listening to your body: pushing yourself while maintaining form and preventing injury. There will be at least one person in the room who has been practicing for a very long time – even in a beginner class. Focus on what you are able to do not on what those around you are doing.

5) Remember, no one is judging you. Everyone was a beginner once even the instructor. No one in the room will be judging your abilities. If anything, they will be impressed with you for giving yoga a chance.

Namaste.

Lunch

I didn’t bring my lunch today since I was planning to call up my friend Colleen to meet at Panera, but Colleen wasn’t feeling well and called in sick today. I decided after I included dessert with my breakfast, lunch at Freshii might be a good options. I built a rice bowl featuring brown rice, bean sprouts, black beans, broccoli, carrots, egg whites, red onions, sweet corn, avocado, and heavy salsa. It was delish! Before:

After:

I really do love Freshii. Everything is so, well, fresh. That whole container was a mere 536 calories! It’s a ton of food. In reality, I probably could have saved half for dinner, but I was pretty hungry.

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