Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Workout Wednesday: Yoga

I always thought Yoga was for Hindus, Californians and skinny girls who hated sports. Two of my good friends in high school, Danielle and Michelle, were super into yoga and were just so graceful and flexible as a result. So when I signed up for my Gold's Gym pass my freshman year, I thought maybe I'd mix up my weightlifting with some yoga. Unfortunately it took a whole year for me to actually try it out. And I've been hooked ever since. Especially when I can do Star Wars yoga.

Yoga is in essence a spiritual practice that links the mind and body in harmony. It releases tension, increases flexibility, realigns joints and strengthens core muscles. You really can vary your yoga practice to target whatever physical needs you are trying to meet.

Your basic yoga tends to be more strength, core, and flexibility building. I leave sweaty and I'm almost always a little sore (in a good way!) the next day.

More intense or intermediate yoga practice includes more balance poses and emphasis on vinyasa, or flow, which becomes a very mentally rigorous challenge. This yoga emphasis is especially great when I can't stop thinking or worrying about something, because it forces you to let it go and focus on not falling on your face. I've never tried bikram or any other intense forms, but I've heard great things. I'm still a noob, anyways.

Relaxation yoga is awesome. Most yoga classes end with some relaxation poses and nap meditation time. You release tension in your neck and shoulders that you didn't even know you were holding. You're breathing deep and free, your body feels like tingly jello and you don't walk - you glide.

A good yoga practice includes a little of all three. Every instructor is going to design their class differently, and it's just about finding what works for you.

Options for practicing yoga:

  • On Netflix, I like 10 Minute Solution Yoga and Crunch: Candlelight Yoga.
  • YouTube Yoga is pretty cool, actually. Check this tumblr for a list of YouTube videos that target anything you want. Perfect if you are stuck at home/too lazy to go anywhere. 
  • The Everygirl just did an awesome feature for beginners, so check it!
  • On your own! Once you have learned the basics, you can do it yourself! I sometimes do yoga on vacation or when I'm feeling really tight and inflexible, without a video or instructions. 
  • I personally believe classes are the best, because they are different every time, they modify poses for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, and you work harder when there are other people around you trying. 

What to Wear:

Tight/form-fitting clothes. You don't need to pour yourself into the thinnest spandex you can buy, just lose the baggy basketball shorts. When you lift your legs in the air or turn upside down you don't want to be tugging your shorts away from your bum and your high school choir t-shirt from suffocating your face.

Victoria's Secret yoga pants are my favorite. I like the capri, but I also have the ankle boot cut and the yoga booty short too. Leggings are also a great option.

A sports bra with a tank or slim v-neck or a racerback sports tank are my favorite top options. Athleta has some seriously cute stuff. Almost makes you WANT to work out. Almost...

Pull your hair into a top knot or Katniss-style side braid and use a headband to keep the hair out of your face when you are upside down and changing positions.

Other Tips:

If you love yoga, buy your own mat. There are always yoga mats in the back of the aerobics room, but having your own is way cleaner/better. I got one on Amazon with a bag for pretty cheap and I use it all the time.

Get to class early, find a spot near a mirror so you can check your form during poses, and stretch a bit before class starts.

Do yoga on an empty (but not rumbling stomach).

No one cares if you fall over or can't hold a stretch the whole time. Seriously. No one cares.

Tune in next week for a Workout Wednesday Guest Post by my good friend Tayler about why she runs like a crazy person!

1 comment:

  1. I really needed to read this because
    1. I am terrible at yoga.
    2. I just thought it was for skinny girls who suck at sports, too.