5 Tips for New Yoga Students

…But I can’t even touch my toes…

I have heard this phrase many times from people that are resistant to trying yoga. And I get it – yoga can be intimidating for a beginner. It’s easier to make excuses and spare yourself the embarrassment.

The thing is, the people who are the most resistant to starting a yoga practice are usually the people who need it the most. Here are some tips that might make starting yoga a bit easier.

1. You don’t need to be flexible to do yoga
In fact, being inflexible is even more of a reason to do yoga. You also don’t have to have a certain body type or be a certain gender to practice yoga. There is a kind of yoga for everyone.

2. Don’t be nervous
You won’t be forced to do anything you are not comfortable with. As much as you feel like the whole room will stare at you and leave whispering about the awkward person in the corner, it won’t happen. Everyone participating in class will be too concerned with their own stuff to notice you. And nobody cares whether or not you can touch your toes. Really.

3. Find the right class
Yoga videos are great, but if you are practicing for the first time, it is best to find a class with an RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher). This way you can ensure that you are doing the poses properly and avoid injury. Many studios offer beginner classes and workshops, so you’ll be in good company.

4. Child’s pose is your best friend
Take child’s pose or any other resting pose often, and don’t be ashamed! I sometimes see people avoid child’s pose like the plague. Like they will somehow be defeated if they allow themselves to rest. Child’s pose is a real pose with real benefits. It’s all about honoring your body and doing what feels best in the moment.

5. Have fun
We tend to take ourselves too seriously. Sometimes you need be playful and laugh at yourself. You are not going to be amazing at yoga the first time you try. Recognize that learning yoga is a process and have fun along the way. I promise downward dog will get easier – just find a good class and stick with it!

For beginners classes at The Corner Studio, Click Here and look for “Yoga Basics”

Healthy Heart Openers

To correspond with Valentine’s Day, we have been practicing heart opening poses this month.  Yes, this sounds a bit sappy, but heart openers have real benefits for our bodies.

Many of us spend a lot of time at work sitting and slouching over a desk.  You know how your mother always said that if you make a funny face, it will get stuck that way?  In this case, she would be right!  When we frequently use poor posture, the muscles in our chest tighten and our upper back muscles become long and weak.  Our posture will “get stuck” this way unless we practice heart openers like cobra, upward dog, camel and numerous other poses.

In addition to improved posture, recent studies have shown that heart openers can ease anxiety and depression and promote overall good health.  Plus they feel really great.

So strike a heart opening pose and enjoy the benefits!

Twists with Benefits

Private Lessons for individual form practiceThe holidays have come and gone as they always do.  As fun, stressful or enjoyable as they were, they probably left us feeling a little lethargic and overindulged.  Now it’s time to detox!

If you take my class regularly, you know that twisting is the focus of the month for January.  Almost all styles of yoga incorporate twisting into the practice.  So, what’s so important about twisting anyway?

Twisting cleanses and detoxifies the internal organs.  Think about ringing out a wet rag.  When we twist, the liver, kidneys, stomach, pancreas and spleen are being massaged and cleansed of toxins.  When practiced regularly, twisting relieves abdominal bloating and promotes better digestion.  And it’s more pleasant than drinking wheatgrass juice.

If you don’t use it, you lose it.  When we twist, we are lengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the spine.  A lack of twisting can lead to a lack of mobility, especially if you live a more sedentary lifestyle (desk work, lots of travel, etc).  For the same reason, twisting helps to relieve back pressure and pain.

The good news is twisting is easy to incorporate into your life whether it be at yoga class, home or work.  Twisting in your chair is simple and discrete – just remember to lengthen your spine before you twist.

Happy Detoxing!

Om for the Holidays

Every year in January or February, my classes are jam packed with yogis and yoginis who have resolved to be healthier in the New Year.  Some look exhausted, overworked and so ready to take some “me-time”.  They have survived the holiday craze and now it is (thankfully) over.  A New Year has come, and we are all ready to start fresh making this year better than the last.  In my opinion, New Year Resolutions are great, but Holiday Resolutions are better.

For many of us, the holidays spell S-T-R-E-S-S.  The decorating, holiday card writing, cooking and baking and money spending (is your blood pressure rising yet?) tend to get to us.

Here’s the thing:  We all know the negative effect stress can have on our bodies manifesting in the form of heart disease, insomnia, obesity, gastrointestinal problems and the list goes on, so if you want to do something good for yourself (which you should) the holiday season is the best time to practice yoga.

I know what you are thinking.  It’s easier said than done.  And, in a way, my telling you not to stress automatically causes your mind to hone in on all of the stressors in your lives.  So here are some tips on how to stay sane during the holiday season.

1. Practice more Yoga: Showing up is the hardest part.  Yes, even harder than crow pose!  Once you are in class, you can make the practice your own based on how you feel.  If that means staying in child’s pose for 10 minutes, PERFECT!  If that means attempting a challenging arm balance, GREAT!  If you can’t make it to class, practice at home even if that means sitting in meditation for 5 minutes before starting your day.

2. Breathe: If you find the rush of the holiday consuming you, stop and take a few breaths.  Use the full capacity of your lungs and feel the belly rise and fall with the inhales and exhales.  Also, try lengthening the exhalation.  At the bottom of your breath, hold empty and savor the stillness.

3. Set goals, but don’t become attached to results:  In yoga, we talk a lot about presence.  Staying in the here and now.  Most of us are very goal oriented.  When we obsess about the results of our goals, we are throwing away the present moment and living in the future.  We are all guilty of it.  This does not mean we shouldn’t set goals.  It just means that we should be present in the process of completing our goals without worrying about the outcome.  This way, we can really connect to the things we love about the holiday season.

So you decide what is more important – getting the holiday cards out on time or preventing heart disease.  My example is extreme, and no, holiday stress probably won’t kill you, but lowering our stress level is part of being healthy.