Yoga Beginner

Week Three and Four of Yoga Month: The End and a New Beginning

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These last two weeks of Yoga Month have flown by as if life were merely a good fiction novel that I didn’t want to end.

As I continued to explore the world of yoga on physical level, I found my body feeling leaner, stronger and more flexible.

On an emotional level, I felt more relaxed and focused during the day. And on an intellectual level, my desire to learn more about yoga was deepened.

But, let me step-back for a moment and share with you what I did that allowed me to have such notable results.

Two Weeks in Review: Finding My Flow

First, I discovered in Week Three that I was able to do most of the poses from the Yoga Workout for Dummies YouTube videos on my own. I no longer needed the videos to help guide me.

In fact, I developed my own series of yoga poses that I enjoyed doing several times per week while listening to relaxing music. Needless to say, my confidence really started to soar once I was able to start doing the asanas (just another term for yoga postures) without additional direction.

Although, I have to admit, that I still struggled with Child Pose and the Lunge due to having sensitive knees. Ugh!

Yoga for a Healthy Body

I also dived into the Yoga for a Healthy Body book I had purchased during Week One and added some poses from the book to my routine. Plus, it was fun to mix things up a bit!

Lastly, during Week Four I gave the Crunch: Candlelight Yoga video a try (currently streaming on Netflix).

The instructor is Sara Ivanhoe, who also did the Basic Yoga for Dummies videos. I really like her teaching style; it is down-to-earth and encouraging. No judgments here! She encourages her viewers not to be too hard on themselves. Rather, she recommends focusing on the moment.

Overall, I enjoyed the Candlelight Yoga video; it is definitely relaxing. But, don’t be fooled by the name; this is a solid yoga workout!

Sara starts by concentrating on breathing exercises while sitting on the mat. Then she moves gently into the yoga postures. Before you know it, you’re standing-up and doing some challenging poses, including the dreaded Lunge! Yet, this is all done in a tranquil, peaceful way that makes the whole experience seem more like a retreat than an exercise class.

This 45-minute video also has someone doing the poses with modifications, making the instruction fairly easy to follow for even the inflexible. I would recommend this video for someone who wants a relaxing yoga experience with a touch of physical effort.

Discovering Types of Yoga

As the end of Yoga Month approached, I found myself wanting to know more about this thing called yoga.

After a little research, I discovered that the two types of yoga I had been practicing this past month were Hatha and Vinyasa.

I seriously, I had no idea that there were different types of yoga when I first started this journey a month ago. Of course, I guess I really didn’t care at that time because I had just wanted to jump into action.

Anyway, here is a little of what I learned about Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga.

Hatha yoga, according to my Yoga for a Healthy Body book, should be practiced slowly and mindfully, focusing on each breath. The aim of Hatha Yoga is to stop the inner chitter chatter of our mind so that we may see our true selves more clearly.

I also discovered that Hatha Yoga is considered the building block to all other forms of yoga because of its focus on the breath.

After learning about this, I felt grateful that I had somehow started my yoga practice on the right path without even knowing it. I had blindly approached yoga with a beginner’s mind and was miraculously led in the right direction.

As for Vinyasa Yoga, it is a combination of Hatha Yoga (breathing) and flowing, dance-like movements that can provide a solid aerobic and toning workout. This type of yoga focuses on breath-synchronized movement. The emphasis is on concentration and attitude (like laughing at yourself when you topple over from Tree Pose!).

Next Steps: Continuing the Journey

Yoga Anatomy

There are a variety of types of yoga to explore, from Bikram (hot yoga) to Raja Yoga, but I am pleased with where I am right now. I plan to continue to practice a combination of both Hatha and Vinyasa yoga.

In addition, I hope to explore and study Hatha Yoga more thoroughly to feed my intellectual and spiritual curiosity.

I also want to become more familiar with the muscles that are used for each pose. I’ve already begun to study my new Yoga Anatomy book and learned that there is a lot more to breathing than I had originally thought!

Plus, I am already considering yoga training. I can totally see myself teaching others yoga. But, I am jumping ahead by at least a few years!

Yoga Month Wrap-Up:

Originally, I had started Yoga Month with the simple wish of learning a few yoga poses that would help me to become a little more flexible and toned. But, as my body began to ease into each pose a little more gracefully and my monkey mind started to relax, I discovered the awesomeness of yoga.

I don’t think anyone could have explained the benefits of yoga to me a month ago, I would have been quite skeptical.

Yoga Girl Mug

Now that I have explored yoga for myself these past four weeks, I can see the power yoga can have to transform lives.

It is quite fascinating how taking time to do a few soothing and dynamic poses each day can open up a different world. In other words, yoga gave me the ability to see life from a different perspective. Not only can I see new possibilities, but I also feel focused enough to make positive changes.

I can’t wait to see what occurs in my life in the next few months by continuing to practice yoga most days of the week. I’ll be sure to let you know!

Well, I am off to sip some tea in my new Yoga Girl Mug and quietly celebrate all that I’ve learned and achieved this month.

Namaste.

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Additional Photo Credits: A Girl With Tea (Yoga Books and Mug)

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.

 

 

Week Two of Yoga Month: Recovering from Failure

Week One of Yoga Month: Starting from the Beginning

Introduction: Yoga Month: Getting Started with Yoga

Week Two of Yoga Month: Recovering from Failure (and Mildred)

© Scott Griessel – Fotolia.com

The second week of Yoga Month flew by really quickly, too fast in fact, because I only got in two days of my beginner yoga practice. My original plan was to do five days.

I find myself sitting down to write this update and wishing I had made some different decisions over the last seven days, but I can’t go back in time.

Since I don’t have a time machine, I guess all I can do at this point is look back over the last seven days, reflect on what went wrong, learn from my mistakes, and update my yoga plan.

A Week in Review: Mildred Takes Over

During Week One I had completed six days of yoga and ended the week on a high note. I was feeling pretty proud of myself!

Then as Week Two started, a voice in my head told me that I should be doing more yoga. I’ll call this voice Mildred.

Mildred, the perfectionist side of me, started whispering in my ear that I wasn’t doing good enough. She told me that I really should be doing at least twenty minutes of yoga every day because I had been so successful my first week.

The more I listened to Mildred, the more I procrastinated. I found lots of excuses to not practice yoga.

Before I knew it, four days had past and I started feeling really deflated. I knew I had failed to achieve my goal of doing ten minutes of yoga five times per week.

I felt like a big loser.

Looking Deeper and Giving Mildred the Boot:

One thing I’ve known about myself, but seem to keep repeating, is that I always start off strong. Then, I falter once a little success is achieved.

However, I’ve never really explored why I do this…

I’m thinking that it’s all about fear, fear of leaving my comfort zone—that small little world I’ve built for myself to protect me from hurt and pain. And that’s what the perfectionistic Mildred is there for, to keep me from venturing outside the glass box.

Luckily, on day five, after some self-reflection, I was able to give Mildred the boot. Of course, she did drop-in unexpectedly once in a while during the rest of the week, but I swiftly told her that she wasn’t welcome any longer.

Renewed Energy for My Updated Yoga Plan:

After having two successful days of beginner yoga practice, my energy and determination were renewed.

I’m glad I took the time to examine what went wrong, so I could move forward again.

In fact, by re-focusing on my original goal—to practice yoga for just ten minutes—I found myself exceeding my own expectations. Not because Mildred was there to berate me, but because I was having fun.

My plan is to re-commit to my original goal of doing yoga five times per week for ten minutes. And if Mildred rings my doorbell again, I’ll tell her I don’t accept solicitations!

Here’s to another week of yoga!

Oh, and my apologies if your name is Mildred!

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This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.

 

 

Week One of Yoga Month: Starting from the Beginning

Introduction: Yoga Month: Getting Started with Yoga

Week One of Yoga Month: Starting from the Beginning

© Maksim Šmeljov – Fotolia.com

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.

Day One:

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.

Introduction:

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.

Day Two:

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.

Day Three:

My Yoga Mat

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.

Day Four:

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!

Day Five:

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!

Day Six:

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.

Day Seven ended with a mini-celebration; I purchased myself a cool Yoga Girl mug and a Yoga Anatomy book from Amazon.com. I can’t wait to get them in the mail!

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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Affiliate Links: Yes

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

Yoga Month: Getting Started with Yoga

Yoga Month Starts Today:

Lululemon Athletica - via Flickr CC Attribution License

It’s September 1, 2011 and that means National Yoga Month has officially started!

According to Yoga Month the Department of Health & Human Services designated September as National Yoga Month to build awareness of yoga’s health benefits and to inspire people to take responsibility for their own well-being.

Well, I’m inspired!

Making Yoga Part of My Life:

I’ve been thinking about making yoga part of my life for some time now, but I just never made it a priority.

Today, I decided to change that.

My goal is to practice ten-minutes of yoga 5 out of 7 days each week in the month of September. I hope to build a solid yoga routine by the end of the month that I can use year-round.

Choosing to Practice at Home:

In the past, I’ve taken a yoga class here and there, either in a gym or studio setting. Overall, I did enjoy the sessions, but for one reason or another I never returned.

Looking back, I recall one of the reasons why I failed to return was because I found it inconvenient to get to a class.

Usually my schedule didn’t mesh well with the yoga studio’s class times. Not to mention, during the winter months, I couldn’t be pried out of my toasty, warm house for all the tea in China. The same holds true even today.

Another reason why I found myself not returning to yoga class was because I felt a bit out-of-place. Being a newbie, I found the poses too advanced for my out-of-shape body.

As I struggled to find and attempt to maintain each pose, others around me moved gracefully and flowed from one movement to the next. I felt like a prickly weed in a flower garden.

Lastly, I’ve chosen to practice yoga at home because I’m an introvert. Yep, I’ll readily admit that I like being alone, but not in a weird grow-my-armpit-hair-out-sort-of-way. I just like time to think, it re-energizes me.

Actually, learning yoga at home will allow me to spend plenty of time with each pose and really get to learn it inside and out; whereas, in a class setting, I tend to forget the poses as soon as I get home.

Yoga Videos for Beginners:

After concluding that I would begin my yoga training at home, I went online and looked for beginner yoga videos. I found a series on YouTube that I really like. It’s called Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies. Perfect!

I previewed the first 10-minute video which covers deep-breathing, the Cat Pose and the Mountain Pose. The video was super easy to follow and even included modified poses. So, I searched for the rest of the series and added them to my A Girl With Tea YouTube Channel.

Now, I have all six Basic Yoga videos in sequence. Easy Peasy!

Tomorrow, I plan to do the next video in the series and then continue to do one video per day.

Get a Free Week of Yoga Classes:

If you happen to be an extrovert and would prefer to actually attend a class, rather than watch online videos, be sure to check out Yoga Month’s Yoga Studio Finder to find a local yoga studio offering a free week of yoga.

Conclusion:

I’m excited to start my yoga practice, finally, after many years of thinking about it!

If you’ve been considering trying yoga yourself and have never gotten off of the fence, maybe Yoga Month is your call to action?

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This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.