Yoga is not new; it’s been around for the last 5,000 years. The word “yoga” means “yoke” or “union”. It is the practice of joining together the body, mind, and breath in the present moment. When your body, mind, and breath are working together, you become relaxed and more focused.
Whether you need a confidence boost, more restful sleep, or protection from injury during physical activities, yoga is here to help. We could all learn to be a little kinder to ourselves, and yoga helps cultivate self-compassion. Yoga can be done by anyone regardless of age, size, shape, or flexibility.
Start Small. You can do yoga every day. The more regularly you practice, the more you will benefit. Set aside just 10 minutes each day for your yoga practice. Practicing first thing in the morning helps ensure that you will stick to it, and it will help you prepare for your day. As you get comfortable with your new routine, increase the time by 5 minutes each week until you’re up to 30 minutes.
No Fancy Equipment Necessary. You can do yoga almost anywhere. You can practice indoors or outdoors; all you need is a calm, quiet place with some level ground and enough room that you won’t bump into anything. A yoga mat is nice, but not necessary. You can use a blanket or a towel if you don’t have a mat.
Dress for Comfort. Wear clothing that you can move freely in. You don’t need $200 yoga pants. A T-shirt and shorts will do. Yoga is best done barefoot in order to train the muscles of your feet and to help with balance.
Just Breathe. Focus on breathing in and out through your nose during your entire practice. See if you can make your inhales and exhales equal, counting silently to 4 for each inhale and exhale.
No Pain, No Pain. Yoga should not hurt. Straining or pushing yourself too hard is the path to injury. Listen to your body. Only reach as far as is comfortable. Modify the poses to suit your body. No one cares if you can’t touch your toes! With regular practice, you’ll notice that you’ll be able to reach a little farther over time. Be kind to yourself and be gentle with your practice.
Be Here, Now. Yoga is about awareness. Take the time to really feel what the poses are doing. Notice which body parts are stretching and which ones are relaxing. Notice how you breathe as you move into and out of the poses. This awareness is what helps calm the mind. It takes the focus away from all the other stuff we normally think about like grocery lists, worries, and regrets. Use your yoga time to be completely in the moment of Now.
Ready? Set. Yoga! Ok, you’re ready to begin. Now what? If you’re not ready to head to the nearest yoga class, fear not! There are hundreds of videos on YouTube that range from 5 minutes to over an hour in length.
Here’s a 10-minute series to get you started:
Row the Boat
- Sit comfortably on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Inhale and lift your arms up over head toward the sky.
- Exhale and reach your hands toward your feet. Just reach as far as is comfortable.
- Inhale and lift your arms back up overhead toward the sky and lean back just a little.
- Exhale and reach your hands toward your feet. Repeat this movement 5 times.
- Come onto your hands and knees. You may want to place a folded blanket under the knees for comfort. Hands should be under the shoulders and knees under the hips. Let the back be flat like a table.
- Inhale and lift your tailbone and the tip of your nose toward the sky as your belly hangs toward the ground like a cow.
- Exhale and tuck the tailbone and tuck the chin toward the chest, rounding the back like a Halloween cat and pulling the belly button toward the spine.
- Repeat this cycle of cat/cow movement 5 times.
Swaying Palm Tree
- Stand up with your feet hip-distance apart and parallel.
- Inhale and lift your hands above your head interlacing your fingers with your palms turned toward the sky.
- Exhale and bend to one side.
- Inhale and stand up tall, reaching your arms high to the sky.
- Exhale and bend to the other side.
- Repeat this motion 5 times on each side.
- Set a timer for 5 minutes.
- Lie down on your back. Place a small pillow under your head and a folded blanket under your knees for comfort.
- Let your arms rest by your sides with the palms up. Let the feet relax and fall out to the side.
- Close your eyes.
- Begin to focus on taking slow, deep breaths.
- If your thoughts begin to take over, just return to the breath and repeat to yourself: “I am calm. I am peaceful.”
Are you curious to see if yoga could help with something you’re facing? Give it a try! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Share your journey with me! Leave a comment or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to do yoga with me? Try my Welcome hOMe Yoga program. It's a pre-recorded 7-day program to get you started doing yoga at home. Click here to learn more.