I’ve completed my first week of yoga!
Right now I am feeling pretty empowered and ready to take on week two, but first I thought I would reflect on what I accomplished and learned this past week.
Also, I thought I’d share with you what I thought of the Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies videos I’ve been following on YouTube.
I have to admit that it was a bit challenging getting started. I waited until late in the evening to accomplish my goal of watching the first video in the Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies series.
The first video is only 10 minutes in length, so I was able to talk myself into completing the initial exercises.
Video One starts off with a 5-minute introduction that includes the recognizable icons from the “Dummies” book series like Tips, Jargon and Myth Busters.
These icons, with accompanying sound effects, could have been quite annoying. But Sara, the instructor and moderator, makes it work somehow. Perhaps it is her calm demeanor and amiable approach that keeps me from clicking away and seeking a different yoga video.
During the introduction Sara explains that she will be covering 12 postures that she has coined The Daily Dozen. But, before getting started with the workout, she offers a few tips to ensure a safe, effective and relaxing experience:
1. Wear comfortable clothes: I was wearing comfy shorts and a t-shirt; maybe I’ll dish out the money for the requisite yoga pants when I am feeling a bit more yogi-ish.
2. Don’t eat beforehand: I had eaten dinner a couple hours beforehand, so I was good to go.
3. Use a non-slip surface: Luckily, I had a yoga mat on hand from a previous, yet unsuccessful attempt to start practicing yoga.
4. Practice in your bare feet: Check! I love being in my bare feet!
5. Use a chair in case you need to modify any of the poses or need to balance yourself: I had a chair handy, just in case.
6. Use a pillow or towel to cushion your “sit bones” (I love that phrase!) or knees: Yep, I had these on hand too.
7. Use a men’s tie or bathrobe belt as a strap: Okay, I didn’t have either of those, but I did have resistance bands.
One thing I really liked about this comprehensive introduction is that the instructor, Sara, suggested using everyday household items for yoga practice. It was good to know that I didn’t have to run out and buy any fancy, high-priced yoga equipment or paraphernalia to get the job done.
Lastly, before getting started with the workout, Sara encourages her viewers to create a relaxing environment, highlighting that this is the viewer’s “private time.” I liked this emphasis on taking time for myself and it definitely set a positive tone.
Starting the Yoga Workout:
The yoga workout began with a quick breathing lesson and after six relaxing breaths in and out I was feeling pretty grounded.
Next Sara eases me into the first of The Daily Dozen: the Cat Pose. I loved this pose because it was so relaxing and easy for a beginner like me to do fairly effortlessly.
Then the Mountain Pose is introduced; another simple and basic yoga position that I really enjoyed.
The first video ends abruptly in the middle of Mountain Pose, but because I had set-up a playlist in YouTube I was immediately directed to Video Two to complete the lesson. Nice!
After wrapping up Day One, I was feeling pretty confident that I could do this thing called yoga.
Once again, I waited until the late evening to complete Video Two of the Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies series. It’s not that I was dreading it. I think I was simply waiting until late in the day because it’s a time when I feel I can take time to relax. Plus, it was a new habit and I hadn’t quite figured out how to add it to my daily routine yet.
Before heading into the third yoga stance, I spent a few minutes revisiting Mountain Pose. Once I was feeling grounded again, I followed the instructions for the Standing Forward Bend.
At first, I was a little confused on how to properly move my body to achieve the pose, but Sara carefully and with some repetition explained what I should be doing. In addition, a modification was offered.
However, I did have to go back and re-listen to her instruction to make sure I was doing it right. I guess this is one perk of practicing at home with a video; I could rewind!
Once I achieved some level of success with the Standing Forward Bend, I was ready to move on to the following position.
Next in line is the Lunge. I knew, just by the name alone, I was really going to hate this pose.
I tried to gracefully sashay into position. But, I ended up feeling rather awkward and within seconds I found that my knees were screaming at me. Trying not to give up too quickly, I gave the pose another try before deciding to sit it out.
Even though, I failed at the Lunge, I was not deterred and headed into Tree Pose with determination.
This is another position that I rather enjoyed even though I kept tipping over! Here again, Sara offered a modification and even encouraged her viewers to not be too hard on themselves if they couldn’t get it just right.
I ended Day Two of my yoga experience laughing at myself.
The end of the day approached before I rolled out my yoga mat for the third day of practice.
Starting off the day’s session, I decided to give Tree Pose another try. It was quite empowering to see a slight improvement from the day before; I was able to find my balance just a tad bit easier.
Moving into Video Three, I was presented with a complex yoga pose, the Standing Side Stretch. Sara did caution that this is one of the more challenging yoga poses, but encouraged me to do what I could.
I easily lost my balance trying to maintain this stance and got in and out of it several times, but I was not discouraged. I knew I would get better, eventually.
Next was the Downward Facing Dog, which I found to be a fairly easy pose, especially when compared to the Standing Side Stretch.
I ended today’s practice with a sense of accomplishment.
I was a bit more eager to start my practice on this day, so instead of waiting until late in the evening, I began my practice at twilight.
Since the Downward Facing Dog pose was split between Video Three and Video Four, I decided to start my workout by revisiting this posture. Then I moved into pose number eight of The Daily Dozen: the Cobra.
I found myself really enjoying the Cobra, not just because it was a fairly easy posture to master, but because it would help to strengthen my back. I tend to slouch from too much time in front of a computer screen, so I was hoping this pose would help me to sit-up a little straighter over time. No hunch back for this yoga girl!
Then Child Pose is introduced, which seemed super easy, but here again, like the Lunge pose, my knees do not like it. So, I sat this one out as well.
Because I didn’t feel like I accomplished much, I jumped into Video Five and followed along with the Seated Spinal Twist instructions. After the Cobra, I really felt the muscles in my back start to talk to me, so I took it easy on this pose and wrapped-up for the day.
I found that by doing my yoga practice a bit earlier in the evening, I had more energy to tackle some big projects. I was able to get a lot done the rest of the evening. Sweet!
After yesterday’s practice, I was motivated to start my workout a bit earlier in the evening once again on this day.
I gave the Seated Spinal Twist another go and found the pose a little easier to manage.
Then, I moved into the Seated Forward Bend; this went quite smoothly. I was rewarded with the final pose in The Daily Dozen: the Relaxation Pose. And I finished with Video Six, which was just a quick 2-minute wrap-up.
Out of all the poses, this was the only one I remember from the couple yoga classes I had taken many years ago. It’s kind of funny that I can recollect the one position that requires no effort whatsoever!
Day Five wrapped-up with a feeling of excitment for achieving my goal to complete all six videos. Mission accomolished!
A day of rest; no yoga on this day.
Day Seven (Wrap-Up):
At the end of the week, I decided to go through the whole video series at the same time, just to see if I could do it. I was able to complete ten out of the twelve poses in one workout. It felt really good to see this improvement.
Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies Video Review:
Overall, I really enjoyed this video series available on YouTube for free. Not only did I complete the full, 50-minute sequence, but I felt empowered to continue my yoga practice.
One thing that really made this video standout for me is Sara’s teaching style. She is down-to-earth, non-judgmental and encouraging. She advocates having fun and not being too hard on yourself if you can’t get a pose just right.
As a yoga newbie this warm and friendly atmosphere kept me going even when I didn’t feel I was doing well.
Because I had so much fun with this video, I decided to do a little research to learn more about the instructor. I discovered that the video is actually from the 2001 edition of Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies book by Sara Ivanhoe.
Plans for Week Two of Yoga Month:
For Week Two of Yoga Month, I am planning to continue with the Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies videos on YouTube until I can do the poses on my own without guidance.
I also purchased a book at my local Barnes and Noble bookstore the other day called: Yoga for a Healthy Body. It covers a lot of basic poses in great detail, so I am looking forward to diving into it and learning more yoga postures.
In addition, I so enjoyed Sara Ivanhoe’s presentation style that I went online and looked for other yoga videos she had done. Her Crunch: Candlelight Yoga video is currently available via live stream on Netflix. I plan to take full advantage.
Well, that’s it for Week One of my yoga experiment for Yoga Month. I’m looking forward to Week Two!
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Additional Photo Credits: A Girl With Tea (My Yoga Mat)
This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.
Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.
Introduction: Yoga Month: Getting Started with Yoga