Can you think of something that you used to hate, but now you love?
A movie? Sibling? Exercise?
I can, and it’s called yoga.
I used to despise it. I hated the stretching, balancing in uncomfortable poses, and being unbelievably sore after only an hour of “light” yoga.
I mean cmon. I could run at a 6:40 pace, lift heavy 4+ days a week and be fine, but an hour of yoga?
Forget it. Moving at all the next day was agony.
Fast forward a couple years later and I love yoga as much as I love lifting, running, and chocolate. (Well, almost 😉 )
I decided to give it a real chance. I practiced weekly instead of semiannually. Gradually, I could see improvement in how I felt, my mobility, flexibility, and strength.
After several months of practicing regularly, I was hooked.
It’s now a favorite way to unwind, relax, and move more.
Plus who doesn’t love buying ALL yoga clothes?
For anyone new to this ancient art or those who are trying not to hate on it, this post is for you.
I thought it would be helpful to give a general overview of and my experience with what is the mindful practice, ritual if you will, that is called yoga.
What is yoga?
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Yoga is more than just stretching and holding poses.
For some, it’s a downright spiritual experience! I haven’t quite reached zen yet, but it’s definitely a great form of stress relief.
A combination of different poses, breathing exercises, and meditation come together to form the practice of yoga.
Yoga isn’t a religion, but a philosophy that originated in India nearly 5000 years ago as part of Hindu spiritual practice. Today, Yoga is practiced and enjoyed all over the world as a means to connect the mind, body, and spirit.
Here’s a fun fact: yoga comes from the from the Sanskrit word Yuj which means to unite. Isn’t that awesome?
I like to think of yoga uniting several things. Body with mind, movements with breath, and even people.
What are the benefits of yoga?
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I love yoga because it is the one exercise that seems to combine all of the components of wellness into one practice. It connects the physical with the mental and spiritual which is often ignored.
In a world that is image obsessed, yoga encourages becoming better and doing good, rather than just looking better.
Yoga isn’t about being perfect, but finding what works and feels perfect for you and your own practice.
Yoga has several physical and mental benefits. Here are a just a few!
- Improves posture.
- Increases strength and muscle tone
- Relieves stress
- Reduces pain
- Increases flexibility
- Strengthens immune system
- Boosts your mood
- Reduces blood pressure
- Betters balance
- Injury prevention (strengthens connective tissue/joints)
- Better sleep ( activating parasympathetic)
- Boosts digestion
- Increases self-esteem
- Encourages self-love and care
- Builds bones
What are the basic yoga moves?
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There are tons of different poses in yoga. I could list them out for you, but they wouldn’t mean much. So I found this helpful yoga for beginners basics video (from my favorite YouTube yogi Adriene).
This video is the perfect place to start. It’s simple, not too long, and goes through all the basics and foundational principles of yoga.
How many times a week should I practice yoga?
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You can practice as much as you want!
Some people practice multiple times a day, others just once a week. I like fitting yoga into my fitness routine at least twice a week.
My two suggestions here are:
- You ease into it. Like any form of fitness, it’s probably not a great idea to go as hard as you can right away. Take some time to get used to it, see how your body responds, and go from there.
- You stay consistent. Even if it’s only once a week, or once every other week, the more consistent you are the better results and improvement you’ll see!
What equipment do I need to practice yoga?
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The beauty of yoga is you really only need yourself!
However, a good mat (I like the thick ones like the one pictured below for more comfort) and some cute leggings are always nice.
If you’re brand new to yoga, try taking a class at your local gym or find a yoga studio.
If you’re not ready to practice with lots of people just yet, YouTube has TONS of videos from awesome instructors.
My favorite is Yoga With Adriene. She has tons of options from beginner to more advanced, from 15 minutes to an hour.
You can also find some nifty apps that can guide you and help you build your own practice. Yoga Studio is my favorite yoga app!
Now for the fun part, YOGA TIGHTS.
Nothing like stepping into some cute leggings, amirite? No matter your size, I’m convinced yoga leggings look fab on everyone!
I personally like YogaOutlet.com. They have fair prices and a great selection. Yoga apparel can be pricey, but it doesn’t have to be!
Wrapping It Up
I’m grateful I gave yoga another chance and that we get along now.
I believe that there is a form of exercise out there for everyone. For some it’s yoga, for others, it may be something else. The trick is to explore and see what you enjoy.
What you enjoy is what you’ll stick with and that’s what’s most important when it comes to physical activity. Our bodies were meant to move!
So get moving!
*This post contains affiliate links, but all thoughts are my own 🙂