I’ve written a bunch of posts (all in the voice of a student/someone who is also learning) about getting started in yoga, advice for hot yoga beginners, how to make your home practice a priority, yoga on a budget, the effects of a consistent practice, a pretty decent spectrum of everyday tips and advice for the everyday or beginner yogi. I realized a few weeks ago, when my husband started going to yoga (I know, totally amazing!) that I left out the most important piece of the whole getting started/developing a yoga practice puzzle. How to find your breath/how to breathe. I actually sorta left it out on purpose, I just figured I wasn’t the right person to explain it. Since I’m not a teacher or an expert – but since trying to help explain how I found m breath to Chris in a way that makes sense, I remembered just how hard it was for me to find my breath and figured why not share what I tried to articulate to him and maybe it’ll help someone just a little. Without the proper (I can’t think of a better word, there really is no “proper” but I think you get what I mean?) breathing the class can feel so much harder, confusing, frustrating, aggravating and fumbly then it needs to be. I’m not talking about just plain old breathing as opposed to holding your breath, normal breathing is cool too (I mean, it’s hip to be alive: breathing=life) but I mean your yoga breath which is called pranayama – how to find yours and what the heck is it anyways?
Welp, missing my little sidekick like crazy again today. I thought about her the whole time during my practice this morning, I sure miss these moments. I cannot wait for the weekend when I’m wrangling both crazy kiddos and they are fighting about who gets to sit beside me or interrupting my home practice. Since I have ‘missing my kids’ pretty much exclusively on my mind and I’m sure you (and everyone else I know) is tired of hearing about it. How about we just talk about my most popular yoga posts, in case you haven’t had a chance to read them yet:
Yoga at Home: How to make it a priority.
What you don’t see, when you look at a beautiful picture.
Hot Yoga: Tips and advice for newbies.
little yoga copycatters.
The effects of yoga.
Let’s talk yoga: From getting started to finding the time.
During the summer months, I honesty don’t have time for much other then my family. My blogging schedule takes a hit, so does the house work, but yoga I always seem to find time for yoga. My home practice days begin to outweigh the studio days in the summer. Practicing a t home is not quite as mind clearing, focused and strengthening as practicing in the studio – since home is filled with distractions (so many cute distractions trying to jump on me while I move). I really focus on making my practice a priority, its key to keeping a consistent home practice. And there a few habits I have acquired along the way, to make sure I can’t talk myself out of practicing at home – because usually that whole ‘talking myself out of it’ is the hardest hurdle to overcome.
*These habits, work well for all other forms of home workouts too!
PREP YOUR SPACE
The night before or in the morning, lay your mat out and prep your space. That way you see your space first thing in the morning or when you walk in the room – much harder to say no when you know what awesome come from time spent on your mat. Make sure you go a step beyond laying out your mat and tidy up the space or even the room you plan to practice in. I have a hard time getting in the zone when things around me are in disarray – a quick tidy can do wonders for focus. *my mat is from Magic Carpet Yoga Mats – it is hand-painted and totally beautiful. It is perfect for my home practice (makes it that much more inviting to hit the mat), since it’s pretty slippery when covered with sweat (basically how hot yoga goes) and I wouldn’t want to cover it with a yoga towel. (I still use and totally LOVE my Jade exclusively for vinyasa or hot classes- one does not replace the other).
PUT YOUR CLOTHES ON
Or just go ahead and put them on. For a first thing in the morning practice, I make sure I lay my clothes out the night before – less excuses. During the day I put my clothes on, and tell myself I can’t get ready for the day (no real clothes) until I practice.
CHOOSE A TIME
Set it in your head or even better, set it as an appt in your phone. This way you schedule other things around your yoga time, and there is none of that “I’ll do it later” sorta self talk.
SET UP YOUR PRACTICE
Since I rarely get a full practice in at home and always end up feeling like I’ve missed something when I’m done. I try to switch the focus of each days home practice, one day it’s more hip opening, maybe heart opening, arm balancing, etc. That way, at the end of the week or the next time I head to the studio – I feel more complete, rather than just doing the same half practice everyday feeling like I missed the same thing everyday. I use Yoga Glo and Yogify App, they both allow you to choose the type of practice you want (lot’s to choose from).
GET SNACKS AND AN ACTIVITY GOING
Because if you have kids, you just know someone is going to ask you for something as soon as you begin. It’s like when you are on the phone, no one wanted your attention until that moment when you were giving it to someone else. I plan ahead and get the kids the things they will probably need before I tuck myself away on my mat. Also, I give them the promise of doing their own yoga practice after I’m done – which for future reference is usually a Cosmic Kids video.
LOWER YOUR STANDARDS
Don’t expect to have a 75 min uninterrupted practice, cause that probably just won’t happen. Shoot for something more attainable at home, 30-45 mins heck even a 15 min practice is better than a 0 min practice.
A beautiful image only shows one single beautiful moment. Not saying that these images are beautiful (hello crazy hair) just referring to images in general – to be clear. What we don’t get to see are the years of struggle, work, love or dedication that came before that single snapshot. We don’t see the time (maybe years) spent practicing, the hard work spent gaining strength, mindfulness, focus, control, maybe the natural ability to be flexible, or the trials and constant fails. An image is a teeny tiny glimpse, everything that comes before and after that image is built-in our imaginations. Images of beautiful yoga poses are no different than images of beautiful things or people, it’s all to easy to let the dialogue we have built up in our heads after viewing images injure our own practice or our mindset.
We only ever see the end result of a perfect second in time, and an edited version of that. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that others do fall, struggle, have unflattering angles, make mistakes and they are just following their own practice.
Take time to grow and build strength don’t rush into anything, don’t let your ego tell you to try something because you saw it somewhere else. Follow what your body needs and what it is asking you for, breath between the place you are now and the place you want to be – your practice. (a gentle reminder for myself as well, because no one is perfect and most definitely not me as you can see by my very ungraceful/unflattering spill).
I’m pretty sure I spent most of my adult life searching for a reset button, even though I didn’t know I was searching. A glass of wine at the end of a hard day, a bath to calm down and relax before bed, a night out with other adults (and only adults), sleeping in (whatever that is) – versions of reset buttons that definitely have their place. The other night, as I lay awake in bed “letting” my anxiety totally take over and completely ruin my sleep. I kept thinking, that all I needed was a reset button to punch me outta of my wakeful funk and let me sleep. After like the 500th toss and turn, I realized I hadn’t practiced yoga that day (I skipped out on my own advice) which is why I wasn’t able to let go of my day. I have that reset button I just didn’t press it.
The time I spend on the mat is my reset button. It’s a reset for both my mind and body, my daily practice is more than just a habit or addiction it’s become a requirement. Those other versions of a recharge, still have their place (but really, what is “sleeping in?”) but to be truly kind to myself and to make sure I am at my best (and I actually sleep) I just can’t skip out that precious time.
This got me thinking, what do other people do as a reset or recharge? Do you have something you do that acts as a reset button?
*read more about my take and love for yoga.
Let’s just preface this, by saying there is probably no such thing as true yoga essentials. If you want to practice yoga, you could in all honesty practice naked on your hardwood floor, zero gear required – BUT the right clothes (that make you feel comfortable), props and gear can make your practice just that much better. I wanted to share some of my personal practice changing items, and a few that I am coveting after doing a ton of research and testing.
No 1. Hot Yoga Towel : I have one of these mat sized towels and it is amazing! If you practice hot yoga this is the towel – it’s grippy, absorbent but not smooth or fluffy and slippery. I save my yogitoes towel for days when I practice a more vigorous Hot Vinyasa (sometimes called Flow) class, the other days I switch off between regular bathroom towels – the difference is like night and a bright sun shiny day.
No 2. Leggings and Crops : My all time favorite yoga leggings and crop pants are Lululemon’s Wunderunders. They are absorbent enough that they hold out for the sweatiest of hot yoga classes. I personally love a full length or crop pant over any shorty shorts for a sweaty class – I find I have more grip and there is just way less slipping and sliding. Also I like owning gear that works for all types of workouts and classes, these babies are all around awesome. I have heard there are a few brands that are just as awesome, but I am always a bit nervous to test them out because I know how well Lulu stands up in a 90 degree room.
No 3. Headband : My best bud got me a few of these headbands (she actually gifted me almost all my best yoga gear, she’s a sweet brat that one). The Yogitoes headband, is heads and shoulders above the other ones I’ve tried – it’s thin but absorbent, comfortable with no having to readjust during your practice (or whatever workout you are doing). And it is wide enough to wear any way you like – fold it in half, twist it, wear it around your neck as a sweat absorbing scarf, whatever you please!
No 4. Water Bottle : I keep wanting to try another brand (just because some of them look so cool) but I have no reason to switch because this brand just never lets me down. This new style is great: that metal handle makes it extra easy to open, when my hands are sweaty from class. And it’s just really pretty and shiny. EDIT: I did it, I tried a new brand – this bottle keeps water cold or hot for 24 full hours. Which means my water is ice cold even at the end of a hot 75 min class.
No 5. Tank Top : A simple racer back tank with built in support. No frills or too crazy straps. I like my yoga clothes to be pretty simple and functional, this is by far my favorite tank top. Also of course it is a star when it comes to wicking away the moisture in and out of a strenuous heated class.
No 6. Strap : I really love using a strap in my practice once in a while. My current favorite is using it when I’m in dancers pose, the loveliest of heart openers. I don’t currently have one for my home practice, but have my heart eyes set on this one. I like the cotton canvas material (some of the others are, more of a grosgrain and smooth and slippery) which to be honest is my only real requirement when I was searching.
No 7. Mat : I raved about this mat before, it’s just that good. My old mat, was an 8 year old Lululemon – not the same as the mat they have now, it was really great…8 years ago. When I upgraded to this Jade (another gift from my best friend) it was literally practice changing. The grip on this baby is like nothing else, my wrist pain was gone (no more fighting to keep myself from slipping).
No 8. Sports Bra : Sometimes, if I’m wearing a full length legging I like to wear a cropped top like this sports bra. It has the same simplistic look as the Power Y tank, but it’s just a tad shorter. Also it’s longer in length then most sports bras, I probably shouldn’t even call it that.
No 9. Block : Another item I have my eyes on, I love having a block beside me when I practice – it can add so much to a pose, and sometimes I just need it. I searched up and down and found that this is the one I want, because of the price and also because I really want a natural wood block not foam.
No 10. Mat Strap : Not in the image, but it should be. Some really like a mat bag but personally I love an open strap like this. I always remember that episode of 30 Rock when Liz Lemon is taking her stinky gym bag home, and just assume that if I had a mat bag both my mat and bag when stink juuust like that.
Do you have a favorite yoga or workout item? I’m always looking for new and amazing workout or yoga clothes so would love to hear your favorites! Also, for curiosity sake are you a fan of workout style yoga clothes, or do you prefer the more natural yogi/hippie style?