Category: Yogic Lifestyle (Making yoga work for you)

Your ultimate holiday YOGA gift guide! Find yoga gift ideas for everyone on your list, no matter what you budget is, we have some fab ideas for you! #yogagift #christmasgift #yogigift #giftguide

30+ Great Yoga Gift Ideas! Gifts for Every Budget: Your Ultimate Yoga Gift Guide

Your ultimate holiday YOGA gift guide! Find yoga gift ideas for everyone on your list, no matter what you budget is, we have some fab ideas for you! #yogagift #christmasgift #yogigift #giftguide

 

With the holidays coming, everyone is searching for great yoga gift ideas.  For your favorite yogi, maybe you need some special yoga gift ideas.  Or maybe you ARE a yogi and you’re having trouble thinking of a good answer when your loved ones ask, “what do you want for Christmas?” (or whatever holiday you celebrate).  We’ve got you covered.  And the best part? All of these items are shop-in-your-yoga-pants-from-home-style online buys.

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Yoga Gift Ideas under $20

Yoga strap ($9.95)

yoga strap is a super handy tool to help you reach just a little bit further into a stretch.  It sort of extends your arm or your leg to make an impossible pose possible- start you working into the right muscles and using the right alignment to properly learn to get deeper and deeper into those impossibly bendy shapes.  This yoga strap has a set of D rings at the end to help hold a loop so you can easily hold onto your foot or another body part.  The strap itself is made of durable cotton so it won’t lose its shape and functionality.  Click through to see other colors.

Yoga Mat Spray ($9.99)

Natural Yoga Mat Cleaner is a yoga essential.  To keep your mat clean and sanitary after each practice, it’s super important to properly clean it.  This cleaner won’t leave behind a reside on your mat and it dries quickly.  It is plant-based with essential oils so it won’t harm your skin or your mat.  It cleans and disinfects.  Towelette is included.  Made in California.  Click through to see scent options.

Eye Pillow ($10.95)

An eye pillow adds to the heavenly feeling of your savasana.  It can help you relax just that much deeper and more completely.  This eye pillow is made of lavender and flax seeds.  The lavender can help you destress and find calm while the flax can help your vision.  The pillow rests over your eyes and doesn’t exert pressure.  It’s available in many colors- click through to see more.

Yoga Prints ($11.95 and up)

The 8 Limbs of Yoga Tree and Chakras Poster beautifully displays the 8 limbs of yoga, which tell yogis how dig deeper into all of the aspects of yoga.This print showcases the 8 limbs of yoga on the branches on the tree as well as the 7 chakras on the trunk.  This print beautifully depicts different aspects of each of the limbs of yoga.  The chakras are also displayed in depth, including the mantra associated with the chakra, the meaning of the chakra and an English affirmation.  The image is printed on durable archival paper.  Click the image to see details of this print and more prints.  These items are also available in our Etsy Shop.

Himalayan Salt Candle Holders (11.99)

These beautiful Himalayan Salt Tea Light Holders add ambiance to any space with their warm glow.  They’re a wonderful gift idea for yogis or meditators.  Himalayan salt is said to help purify the air and help restore ionic balance.

Meditation for the Love of It ($13.42)

This book is a fantastic aid to anyone wanting to start or refresh their meditation practice.  It gives many wonderful ideas for things to focuc on during meditation.  Meditation for the Love of It: Enjoying Your Own Deepest Experience is full of practical ideas for your practice.  Sally Kempton is a wonderful author full of wisdom from her own 40 years of meditating.  She shares a deeper practice and more than 20 meditations to try.

Moments of Mindfulness ($13.56)

This books is by the famous Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.  Moments of Mindfulness: Daily Inspiration gives a year’s worth of ideas for meditation quotes and inspiration with new and beautiful mantras to focus on each week.  The book itself is also beautiful, with sweet and soothing illustrations.  The book includes lots of wide open space so you can also use it as a notebook to record your personal findings and thoughts from meditation.  It includes basic instructions on how to meditate as an introduction.

Yoga Mat Bag ($13.98)

Take your yoga mat on the go in a funky Yoga Mat Carry Bag.  This bag fits standard yoga mats.  It comes in lots of fun colors and patterns.  It has an adjustable shoulder strap and pockets to hold your keys, phone, etc while your practice and on the way.  Click through to see the great designs.

The Radiance Sutras ($14.92)

The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight (English and Sanskrit Edition) shares 112 Sanskrit teachings, with beautiful interpretations of the words’ meaning and how you can utilize and embody each one in this life.  Themes from this book include divinity, eternal energy, harmony and meditation.

Yoga Mantra Mugs ($14.95)

Aum Hibiscus Mug | Coffee Mug | Mantra Mug | Beachy Mug | Yoga MugCurl up with a cozy cup of tea or coffee with your favorite mantra.  Aum is said to be the sound of the universe and the beginning middle and end of all things.  The mug is also available with the classic mantra, Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu which means May all beings be happy and free.  Click through to see different mug sizes and mantras.  These items are also available in our Etsy Shop.

Handmade Organic Beeswax Vanilla Honey Candle ($16.99)

This handmade candle will add great ambiance to your yoga or meditation space.  This candle is hand-poured 100% natural beeswax with a soft vanilla-honey scent (though it’s also available with other scents).

Non-slip Yoga Towel ($16.99)

If you love the cushy nature of your mat, but you slide around on it during sweaty poses or worse all the time, this non-slip yoga towel-72″x24″ could help.  Also, if you use mats at a local yoga studio, bringing a towel to put over the mat could help protect your from bacteria left over on the shared mat.  OR if you are just starting to get tired of the pattern on your old mat, this cover could help you spice it up without investing in a whole new mat.  This particular skidless super grippy mat is made of fast-drying absorbent microfibers.  It’s light weight and fold-able so it’s easy to take it on the go.

Wanderlust Book ($17.32)

Wanderlust: A Modern Yogi’s Guide to Discovering Your Best Self is a wonderful book for any yogi or spiritually inclined person.  It is full of amazing articles, asanas and activities.  This book explains yoga as a way of life and how you can make it part of your life.  It strives to let you (and all of its readers) find your very own path.  It’s full of meaningful, inspirational ideas and gorgeous photographs.

Yoga: Mind Body and Spirit ($18.66)

Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit: A Return to Wholeness is a great book for learning about every aspect of yoga on your own.  This book is great for a beginner as you start to learn about theory behind the poses and exactly how to do each pose.  This book is great for an intermediate yogi if you want to look deeper into yoga and perfect your alignment.  This book is even great for an advanced yogi to revisit the alignment principles and draw them into practice.  Each   Each of the movement principles discussed is incredibly influential to your yoga practice.  Photos and detailed instructions accompany more than 70 poses.

Yoga Gift Ideas Under $30

Yoga Sequencing Deck ($23.54)

Yoga Sequencing Deck can help improve your self-practice (or home-practice) or as a teacher, it can help you find new flows and sequences.  A yoga sequencing deck is a set of cards showing different yoga poses.  You can line them up to help you remember which poses you want to do when and mix them up to find new creative ways to move between poses.  This particular set is based on Mark Stephens’ Classic book on yoga sequencing.  The deck  can be used in conjunction with the book or on its own.  The deck includes a 92-page booklet describing yoga sequencing principles and 100 yoga photo flash cards that are color coded based on the family of poses (eg standing, backbends, etc).

Tibetan Incense Variety Pack ($23.98)

Tibetan incense creates a beautiful ambiance for yoga or meditation.  It can also be spiritual or medicinal.  These incense sticks were hand-rolled in Nepal by Tibetan refugees.  They contain more than 25 medicinal Himalayan herbs.  This pack comes with 5 different varieties.

Yoga Tanks ($24.95)

The Shanti (Peace) Women's Yoga Tank Top is a colorful reminder of the sanskrit mantra meaning peaceThese yoga tanks are made of super comfy soft breathable triblend fabric.  They come in a variety of colors to match all of your yoga pants.  There are also other designs with different mantras, like Aum or Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu or Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There or Breathe and MORE  Click the tank to see more great options.  These tanks are also available in our Etsy shop.

Yoga Crop Top ($24.95)

The Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu Crop Tee has this gorgeous sanskrit mantra on the front and its translation on the back $35Crop tops are fun and trendy even in cool weather.  Once you’re sweating in the yoga studio, you won’t notice the biting Winter winds outside… hopefully.  This crop top comes in black or white.  Other mantras and sayings are also available.  Click the top to see more choices.  These items are also available in our Etsy shop.

Stamped Rose Gold Bracelet ($24.95)

This stamped Rose Gold OM bracelet makes a great gift for a yogi #giftforyogi #stampedbracelet #rosegoldThis dainty, sweet bracelet is hand-stamped with the word OM.  Om is the sound of the universe in yoga  This bracelet is a cute reminder to stay calm and connected to the universe and everything around you.  These items are also available in our Etsy shop.

Cork Yoga Blocks ($24.99)

Yoga blocks are super helpful for reaching new levels.  They can help expand your flexibility and strength.  They can also improve your balance and alignment.  These cork yoga blocks provide support and stability.  Their weight makes them dependable as a support and they can also be held for weight training in poses.  These particular blocks are made with eco-friendly practices.  Click through to learn more.

2100 Asanas ($25.55)

2,100 Asanas: The Complete Yoga Poses is an amaaazing book.  It literally has 2100 asanas so if you ever feel like your practice is getting stale, this book can help because it is FULL of ideas.  Beautiful simple photos with brief descriptions including the name in English and Sanskrit, information about the modification pictured, the drishdi point (where to look) and which chakras (energy centers) are affected.  The poses are grouped into families based on the type of pose.  It is said to be the complete collection of yoga asanas.

Seated Buddha Statue ($27.99)

Buddha statue adds a sense of calm to any yoga or meditation space.  This is an especially wonderful gift for you if you are interested in Buddhism and its teachings on how to live life as your best self.   This statue is in a Thai style with its narrow face and crown on top.  It has nice, modern detailing, but follows a traditional style with its pose.

Yoga Blanket ($28.99)

A  yoga blanket is a wonderful prop for making yoga more comfortable.  For someone with sore knees, it can be good to slide a blanket between your knee and the mat in some poses.  Also, it can help with creating a comfy environment for yin or restorative poses.  If you get cold during savasana, a blanket is a great prop to have beside your mat.  It can be nice to sit on to meditate.  There are so many wonderful uses!  This blanket is machine washable and becomes softer with use.

Yoga Gift Ideas under $50

Framed Yoga Prints ($34.95)

Blue Framed Tree of Life Print, shown here 18x18" from $35These yoga-inspired framed prints are ready to hang on the wall or place on your desk.  They are printed on archival matte paper and framed in a sleek matte black frame.  They are a nice splash of color for any room.  This print is of a Bodhi tree which is the kind of tree that the  Buddha sat under when he was enlightened.  This print comes in other colors and there are other framed prints available in our shop.  Click the photo to see more choices.  These items are also available in our Etsy shop.

Tibetan Singing Bowl (39.93)

This Tibetan Singing Bowl is a wonderful addition to any yoga or meditation space.  It’s beautiful sound reverberates through a room, creating a sense of peace and calm.  This   singing bowl was made in Nepal at a Singing Bowl house.  It is tuned to be harmonic in its ambient sound.  This set comes with a cushion to rest your bowl on, a mallet for striking it, and a drawstring bag to keep your set safe when not in use.  A free ebook will also be emailed to you with your purchase of this set.

Jute Yoga Mat ($42.95)

This natural Jute Yoga Mat is non-slip and light weight.  It is strong and sustainable.  The absorbent natural fibers and grippy surface make it perfect for intensive or sweaty yoga classes like hot yoga or bikram.  The jute fibers are breathable and resilient but still give your joints and body the support it needs for yoga.  The jute mat is a great yoga mat option.

Yoga Pants ($54.95)

Longyi Yoga Pants with ethnic Myanmar print at the base- a beautiful legging for your practice #yogapants #yogaleggingsThese yoga pants are super soft and comfy with their 4-way stretch microfiber yarn.  The leggings have a raised waistband to ensure that they won’t slip or expose.  They also have a small interior pocket for keeping something small and important.  The fabric is pre-washed before it is sewn to make sure the pattern and fibers stay in place.  Then they are hand-sewn in California.  They come in a variety of beautiful patterns.  Click the photo to see more options.  XS-XL also available in our Etsy shop

Handmade Malas ($54.95)

Amazonite and Rudraksha Mala Necklace- 108 Hand-knotted beadsA mala is a wonderful way to stay focused on your meditation.  You can move a bead with each breath or repetition of a mantra.  These gorgeous necklaces are associated with spirituality.  They hold their meaning when worn outside of meditation or yoga practices.  Each mala is made of different beads that have different beneficial properties.  For example the amazonite mala to the left has stress-reducing, calming powers.  Click the photo to see more of our malas on Etsy.

Yoga Bolster ($61.18)

yoga bolsteris a wonderful must-have prop for extra deep stretches.  It’s perfect for creating support in especially yummy poses like restorative and yin.  These poses help stretch your joints and fascia which is different from most styles of yoga that stretch your muscles only.  Yoga bolsters are great for relaxing into your stretch.  They are also good for sitting on for mediation.  This bolster is flat on top and bottom to create stability.  It also has handles on the ends for easy carrying.  Click through to see different colors.

Mommy and Me Yoga Pants Set ($77.95)

These Mommy and Me Leggings are super cute for matching days! #mommyandmeleggings #mommyandme #motherdaughterMommy and me matching is a fun trend.  Kids love to be just like their mom!  These matching leggings are a cute way to pair up.  The leggings have 4-way stretch that makes them super comfy.  Mom’s leggings have a high waist and interior pocket.  The sets come in a variety of patterns.  Click through to choose your matching design.  Available on Etsy

Embroidered Zafu Meditation Cushion ($79.99)

The zafu meditation cushion is a gorgeous place to sit for meditation.  The pattern is silk-screened onto a silk-blend fabric.  This cushion is filled with buckwheat.  It shows 8 auspicious symbols.  Click through for details on the meanings and different colors choices.

Yoga Gift Ideas Wrap-Up

I’ve tried to gather a pretty comprehensive list, but if you have other great ideas or suggestions, please let me know!

Also, if you get one of these fantastic items, please let me know if you like it as much as I do!

 

Happy holidays to you and yours! Peace on Earth <3

Your ultimate holiday YOGA gift guide! Find yoga gift ideas for everyone on your list, no matter what you budget is, we have some fab ideas for you! #yogagift #christmasgift #yogigift #giftguide

Your Complete Guide for How to Start to Meditate: Practical Ideas and Encouragement for your Meditation Practice. This post gives detailed tips on how to start to meditate, including benefits, inspiration, what to focus on, how to sit, when to meditate and more #meditation #meditate #starttomeditate

Your Complete Guide for How to Start to Meditate: Practical Ideas and Encouragement for your Meditation Practice

It can be overwhelming to think about sitting down to clear your mind, but the very point of meditation is to let your mind take a break from all that thinking!  With a little preparation, I think you’ll find meditation a relaxing and important part of your day.  Here are some practical tips that may help you start to meditate.

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Benefits

Regular meditation Your Complete Guide for How to Start to Meditate: Practical Ideas and Encouragement for your Meditation Practice. This post gives detailed tips on how to start to meditate, including benefits, inspiration, what to focus on, how to sit, when to meditate and more #meditation #meditate #starttomeditatehelps with the immune system, lowering your blood pressure and reducing stress levels.  Your brain pattern changes with a consistent meditation practice.  After just a few weeks practicing 20 or 30 minutes a day, you can improve your cognitive functioning, self-awareness and empathy, along with other aspects of your humanity. (Source: In Search of Buddha’s Daughters: The Hidden Lives and Fearless Work of Buddhist Nuns)

 

When to Meditate

Probably the most important thing about starting your practice is finding a reliable time when you can realistically make the time to sit every day.  A sporadic schedule makes things difficult.  The easiest way to form a new habit is to tag your new task on to an existing responsibility you take on every day– like you could meditate every day before breakfast or you could meditate every night after you brush your teeth.  You will always have that original responsibility to remind you to meditate.  It takes 21-28 days to make a new habit so until meditation is one of your habits, it may help to attach it to an existing one.

 

Preparation

It’s also very important to set the stage for yourself.  You need a Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation spacecomfortable clean environment that can become sacred for you.  You want a spot that’s as distraction-free as possible.  It helps if you have the time and space to make a meditation space– use a meditation cushion, candles, meaningful images, etc.  Click the image to the right to see more about creating your own yoga and meditation space.

Take a moment before you begin to set your body up for the practice as well.  Maybe take a couple of easy stretches.  Maybe bow to each direction, acknowledging the universal presence around you.  Definitely take a couple of calming breaths.  – allow yourself to slowly succumb to the mood of meditation.

You’ll definitely want a timer to start.  That way you won’t have to keep peeping through one creased eye to glance at the clock.  Start simple; I recommend 10 minutes.

 

 

Posture

It’s Don't Just Do Something Tank is a reminder of mindfulness and being present. #yogatank #yogatop #mindfulnesstank #mindfulness #meditationtanktypical to be seated on a small pillow during meditation.  If you elevate your hips above your legs it can help to keep your legs from falling asleep.  It’s ok if you want to set up next to a wall and use it to support your back.  It’s also ok if you prefer to sit in a chair.  It’s even ok if you want to lay down (though this is a potential sleep danger).  You can even stand to meditate or take a slow walking meditation.  There isn’t a right way; whatever position suits you best in the moment is the best one.  Meditation is about your mind not the shape you set your body in.  The only goal is to find a position that keeps you comfortable so you can give yourself the best possible chance at staying focused.

 

Inspiration

It’s super hard to sit down and just clear all of the thoughts out of your mind.  Many people find it easier instead of give the mind one specific thought or mood to focus on.  Here are some ideas.

  • Follow your breath- watch it go in and out of your body, feel it coming through your nose and going down into your lungs and your belly, feel each molecule coming back up through your body and exiting your nose again.  Try not to control your breath, but observe it.
  • Look for the spaces between your breath at the top of the inhale and exhale- focus on that eternal space.
  • Imagine a light at your heart center or your third eye.  Focus on watching it grow with each inhale and spread with each exhale.  Watch the light glow.
  • If you’re struggling with thoughts, let a cloud come and carry each one away in turn.  Watch the beautiful sky.
  • Also, you can attach your inhale and exhale to a phrase.
    • in (on your inhale) and out (on your exhale) that being the universal energy, everything at once
    • so hum- I am that- or that I am if you accidentally flip the phrase around
    • Thich Nhat Hanh style
      • calm/ease
      • smile/release
      • deep/slow
  • Alternatively these phrases can be attached to each bead of a mala necklace
  • Also, you can meditate on a poem, idea or feeling

My two favorite books for ideas to guide meditation are Moments of Mindfulness (right) and Meditation for the Love of It (left).  They were influential in creating my practice.

 

Challenges

All of these thoughts and suggestions are for giving you a good chance at making it work.  I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, especially at first.  Expect that at some point you’re going to wonder how long it’s been, or you’ll notice something about your position is becoming uncomfortable or you’ll start to make a to-do list or you’ll remember something very important and feel compelled to go do it immediately.  It’s normal.  All of it and more.  Some days will be easier than others, even for experienced practitioners.  The key is not to be upset at yourself- to acknowledge the thought or the pain or the idea and let it pass.  You can meditate with a notebook beside you to jot ideas down if you struggle too much at letting them go.

 

 

After your Meditation

Amazonite and Rudraksha Mala Necklace- 108 Hand-knotted beadsBefore you rush off to your next task, Malas: choosing one, activating it, and using your mala for meditation and manifestationtake a moment to thank yourself for the gift you’ve given yourself.  Even if it was not your most successfully quiet-minded practice, it’s still a wonderful way to honor yourself.  Also, you can dedicate your practice- choose someone you know and love, a deity, eternal oneness, someone in need, a worldwide issue, whatever you like and send the good vibes of your meditation off to that cause.

Another really beneficial thing to do after meditation is to take a moment to journal about your experience.  It helps to see how far you’ve come and solidify your experience.

However you choose to seal off your practice, re-enter this world slowly and carefully.  You may be in a dreamy state and it make take worldly awareness a moment to return to you.

 

Continuing On

When you get to a point where the timer surprises you or after a few weeks, try increasing the length of your meditation.

Look for new ideas and inspirations for your meditative focus.  Try out new positions, try meditating outside, try everything!  See what works for you and what doesn’t and remember it may be different tomorrow.

Whatever you do,

Continue offering yourself the gift of meditation.

 

Your Complete Guide for How to Start to Meditate: Practical Ideas and Encouragement for your Meditation Practice. This post gives detailed tips on how to start to meditate, including benefits, inspiration, what to focus on, how to sit, when to meditate and more #meditation #meditate #starttomeditate

Choosing a Yoga Teacher Training: Traditional vs. Modern: Studying Traditional Yoga in India or Studying Yoga with a Modern Western Yoga Instructor #yogateachertraining #ytt #becomeayogateacher #becomeayogainstructor

Choosing a Yoga Teacher Training: Traditional vs. Modern

When I was thinking about choosing a yoga teacher training, I debated between the traditional home of yoga (India) and modern Western teaching in Bali.  The stars aligned perfectly for my sister and I to do our ytt together in Ubud, Bali with American yogini, Emily Kuser, and her chosen gurus from the west.  We learned a great deal about yoga and ourselves.  We sometimes joked that it was more of a group therapy session than yoga.

This Summer, some of my friends and I signed up for a yoga retreat in Rishikesh, India.  We thought it was going to be a nice relaxing week of yoga- learning more about the roots of yoga, practicing ashtanga in the morning and gentle flows in the evening.   The website said our experience would be sprinkled with excursions and a free massage would be included.  Instead, we retreat-goers were tossed in with a new batch of yoga teacher training students.  For me it was an fascinating glimpse into what my experience might have otherwise been.

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Comparison

Room and board

Marigold Yoga Leggings are bright, happy yoga pants inspired by the beautiful marigold flowers used in Indian ceremonies. Four-way stretch, inner pocket, and raised waistband. $55
Shop! See our collection inspired by studying yoga in India

In India, housing and food were included in the price of the training.  We were each given our own room with a bed, a dresser and a small bathroom.  The paint on the walls was peeling and the fan only minimally cut the heat.  Delicious Indian food was passed through a little hole in the wall (literally) between the kitchen and the cafeteria-style dining hall.  The chef, Shiva, and I conferred regularly about what I could and couldn’t eat and the events of the day.  He asked questions like, “you gluten free, you don’t vegan, right?”

In Bali, we were on our own for housing, which meant we each chose a place that we felt very comfortable in.  However, this was in  addition to the price of the training (which was already nearly double the training in India).  Breakfast was included at the hotel and lunch was included at the yoga studio’s cafe.  We were on our own for dinner, which meant we could try the food at any of the healthy cafes in town but at additional expense.

Ceremonies

In India, our training began with a puja or Indian blessing ceremony.  A guru sat at the front of the room by a statue of Krishna, chanting and ringing a bell and offering flower petals and lighting candles.  We sat on bolsters and watched and listened until the end, when a vessel full of candles was handed to each of us in turn to circle near Krishna.  I asked a man behind me what we needed to do, but most girls went in blind.  They gave us threaded bracelets and Indian sweets to eat as part of the event.  It was a beautiful peaceful ceremony but we didn’t know what it was all about.

In Bali, we had a water ceremony and a fire ceremony.  Before each one, our teacher told us about the meaning and protocols.  She explained what we would need to do– At the fire ceremony say “swaha” as we tossed things into the fire, listen to the repetitive chanting and join in if we wanted to, prepare a note to release some sadness or anger to throw into the fire to cleanse ourselves if we so wished.  At the water ceremony, stand with hands in prayer as the guru chanted and sprinkled water on our heads, at one point, accept the holy water in your hands, drink it and wipe the rest over your head.  This ceremony was to cleanse and purify.  We talked about everything from what it all meant down to what to wear.

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In Class

In India our yoga course was run with a tight discipline.  The phrase, “I didn’t say… (for example) turn your knee in” was used to remind us of the exact way that we should do the poses.  We focuses on warrior 2, triangle, and half moon for the entire week.  Poses were held for a very long time to build strength.  Counts to hold sometimes started at 5, but were drawn out to more like 100- the pauses between numbers almost left us uncertain of whether or not the counting had been forgotten.  “I love you” would be thrown in instead of a number sometimes.  In anatomy, philosophy etc. precise alignment was lectured and demonstrated.  It was a traditional teaching style with some tough love.

In Bali, we were encouraged to listen to our bodies and were sometimes offered two different poses to choose from based on our level and energy.  The practices flowed smoothly  The teacher encouraged us to pause during the practice any time we wanted to take notes on alignment cues and transition ideas.  Each day one student was an assistant who helped arrange the classroom and watched the teacher and how she related to the students.  We could sign up for office hours to discuss anything with the teachers.  Our teachers encouraged questions and discussions.  There were lots of hugs and there was lots of time to process everything together.


The Shala

Amazonite and Rudraksha Mala Necklace- 108 Hand-knotted beads
Also see our malas on Etsy

The Shanti (Peace) Women's Yoga Tank Top is a colorful reminder of the sanskrit mantra meaning peaceIn India, the yoga shala was on top of the housing.  Its windows faced the mountains.  Monkeys swung by as the sun set.  The bolsters had seen better days and sometimes there was a shortage on blocks or room for the mats.  Everyone was issued a mat with the school’s name on it.  There was air conditioning, but it was never used during asana because “it would make us sick.” It felt like we could be another era learning like the masters.

In Bali, we were in an open-air shala at the back of a field of rice paddies.  Breezes, frogs’ croaks and children’s voices floated through.  Mosquitoes buzzed through too but a natural remedy was available for use.  Shiva danced in the corner.  Each morning, a flower mandala was created by his feet.  Music was crafted to perfectly compliment the energy of the movements.  Mats were provided but most yogis brought their own.  There were more than enough props and cabinets to stow them in.  Care was taken to perfect the atmosphere.

Academics

In India, there was daily library time and there were academic assignments to be completed.  In some of the strict classes, a concept would be concluded with the phrase “any doubts?”

In Bali, we read our books in the 6 weeks before the course and completed several short assignments about our progress leading up to the class.  Questions were encouraged at any time.

Emotional Support

Teacher training is a difficult, emotion undertaking.  Intensive yoga brings up feelings you didn’t even know you had and tests your limits, physical and beyond.  In both settings, I regularly saw tear-stained cheeks.

In India, we had one full hour and a half long session with our eyes closed.  This is a deeply moving, personal experience.  You connect with your space and your mat as well as the feeling of yoga in your body and your being.  Afterward we were dismissed as always.  Some girls seemed to be emotionally drained.  Living together under the shala meant it was easy to find a friend to talk to if needed.

In Bali, after any of our many emotional meditations we journaled on the experience and then discussed in small groups and then sometimes came back to the whole group to talk about it all.  We examined the intricacies of how we felt and how it could change us.

Outcomes

So the question comes to mind: which one is better?  I don’t think it’s possible to give a definitive answer.  It depends on your style and your needs.  It depends what you like and what would challenge your weaknesses. Whatever you feel deeply drawn toward is probably right for you.  The hardest decision is one with lots of good options.

Everyone in both groups came out of the month-long experience feeling empowered and transformed.  Both groups tremendously improved their yoga skills as well as their dedication to the practice.  Everyone had lots of time to think and evolve.  Yoga teacher training any where, any time, any way is a magical experience and a beautiful gift to yourself.

Choosing a Yoga Teacher Training: Traditional vs. Modern: Studying Traditional Yoga in India or Studying Yoga with a Modern Western Yoga Instructor #yogateachertraining #ytt #becomeayogateacher #becomeayogainstructor

The Complete Guide to Advancing your Yoga Self-practice: how to make a routine, add spirituality and pranayama, how to find new inspiration, stay motivated, and tracking your progress #selfpractice #yogapractice

The Complete Guide to Advancing your Yoga Self-practice

Starting a yoga self-practice. Blog post with tips and inspiration
Click this photo if you’re just beginning

If you already started your yoga self practice, great work!!  This post will provide you with some ideas on continuing to challenge yourself and working different parts of your body.  If you’re just starting click the photo to the right.  With your self-practice, it can be easy to get into a rut, only practicing your favorite poses and the ones that are already familiar, and maybe even ones that are easy to you.  It’s important to push yourself beyond that point if you want to progress and improve.  Below are some ideas for how to go beyond where you are now and suggestions for advancing your yoga self-practice.

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Categories of poses

As a yoga instructor, there are 6 main areas to address in a class.

  • warm-ups
  • standing poses
  • arm balances/abs/hips
  • inversions/ thigh stretches
  • backbend/twist/forward bends
  • savasana

Some classes aim to tick all of the boxes and some focus on a specific area, theme or goal.  It’s probably too much to try to tick all of the boxes every day in your home practice (though warm-ups and savasana are always a must).  My suggestion is to assign each of these areas to one or two days of the week.  Then brainstorm some poses in each category– think about poses you like and poses that are difficult for you.  It’s good to have a variety of asanas for each group so you won’t get bored doing the same poses too frequently.  In a few months, you can re-assess your lists and maybe add new poses to your repertoire as your level progresses.  Here’s an example chart of weekly poses.

The Complete Guide to Advancing your Yoga Self-practice: how to make a routine, add spirituality and pranayama, how to find new inspiration, stay motivated, and tracking your progress #selfpractice #yogapractice

Another idea: post soThe Complete Guide to Advancing your Yoga Self-practice: how to make a routine, add spirituality and pranayama, how to find new inspiration, stay motivated, and tracking your progress #selfpractice #yogapracticeme pictures or doodles of poses you want to try on your wall.  Sometimes once you’re flowing it’s hard to remember that great new asana you wanted to try or you can only remember the one you’re most excited about.  Some visual clues can help you get to lots of great shapes.

I read this quote in the The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga, “People love to do the things that they love to do.”  In the book, the author is talking about making sure you balance your yin energy activities (more quiet, restful and rejuvenating) and yang energy activities (powerful, energized, strong).  To me this quote is also a reminder to try to go beyond what you know and what is easy for you- challenge yourself to do the other things.

Disclaimer!  Always be careful and listen to your body, especially your sensitive joints.  You never want to feel real PAIN in yoga- try to shoot for 70% edge.  Go for the Goldilocks technique, adding and removing strain until you reach your just-right stretch.

Every every every day, yoga

7 Restorative Poses to relax and rejuvenate8 Limbs of Yoga: Pranayama, breath control: about and how toTry to make yoga a crucial part of your daily routine.  Maybe schedule it in before you get ready for work or directly after your afternoon snack.  Starting a habit is the hardest part- it takes a full month of dedicated work before any habit will become natural, including the habit of daily yoga.

Of course, some days are super busy and it feels like there is no time or no energy for yoga.  These are probably the days that you need yoga the most!  Do whatever you can to at least make time for a few sun salutations or a few soothing restorative stretches.  On these days, it’s ok if don’t have room for your complete practice, but send yourself the love of a little practice.

Also illness can make moving your body feel extra hard.  When you’re sick, look to some soothing restorative poses, yin asanas or supine stretches.  At least try for some cat-cow or a supine twist.  Supta baddha konasana is always a good idea!

Spirituality

The spiritual side of yoga isn’t for everyone, but it can be a great tool for staying steady emotionally and mentally.  I recommend incorporating some meditation and/or pranayama into your practice.  At the beginning or the end are usually the best time.

New Inspiration

Extra-long modern mala necklace with 108 hand-knotted Burmese beads (in green, black, and white) perfect for yoga and japa meditation
See Katia Yoga malas on Etsy

Goal: add a new poses to your repertoire once a week!

Finding new asanas that meet your skill level and categorical needs can be a challenge.  I recommend this book, 2,100 Asanas: The Complete Yoga Poses.  It’s filled with literally thousands of photos of asanas.  This is a great place to find new ideas.  Flipping through the pages is basically guaranteed to make you want to start to move.  The book is already massive so it doesn’t give a great deal of detail on getting into the poses.  When a pose is appealing but unclear, I turn to the internet.  These days even google has an archive of yoga poses.  There are lots of great sites with detailed how to’s regarding getting into the pose and alignment but it’s hard to find them if you don’t know the pose you’re looking for.  Knowing the name of a pose you want to try is a big help.  2100 can help you begin with that spark of inspiration.

The tree of life is a classic spiritual image in many different cultures. This poster is a print of an acrylic painting on canvas.
Click the tree of life print to check out our shop

If you are interested in a specific style of yoga, try to find a book that is directly related.  There is a lot of yoga theory and philosophy behind most styles and a bit of background can help you find the right intention to infuse into your practice.

Instagram is full of amazing yogis showing off their stuff.  This can also be a good place to find new flows and inspiration.  Also, participating in instagram challenges (whether you post your poses or not) is a good way to get into some different poses and learn from hosts who write about the alignment too.  Photographing your asanas is a helpful tool for checking your alignment if you don’t have a mirror in your yoga space. Pinterest also has lots of great infographics for how-to’s and sequences to try.

Personal Yoga JournalThe Complete Guide to Advancing your Yoga Self-practice: how to make a routine, add spirituality and pranayama, how to find new inspiration, stay motivated, and tracking your progress #selfpractice #yogapractice

A yoga journal or even yoga sketchbook could also be a nice way to keep track of your poses and weekly ideas.  You could possibly also make a calendar or tick boxes to track how often you practice.

Things to think about in a yoga class to find your favorite class or style or learn to be a better instructorIn this journal, you can also take some notes after yoga classes you attend.  Try to take note of new poses you like, fun flows your body enjoys and great quotes, themes or intentions you may want to include in your home practice.

 

This may sound like a lot.  That’s ok.  Take whatever pieces may work for you and your practice.  Your practice is only for you so do whatever makes you feel good and makes you want to roll out your mat again and again.  Be proud of whatever you do!

 

 

Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space

Creating a Yoga and Meditation Space

Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation spaceOne key to establishing a great home yoga practice is having a good place for it.  You need to create a spot that feels comfortable, personal and enjoyable.  It’s your practice and your space so it should feel like you and be representative of your yoga interests and needs.  However, there are a few things that every yoga space needs, whether you have a whole yoga shala (room/studio) or only a corner.  To try to get to the essentials of your yoga space, think about all 5 senses so you can set the mood for your practice.  I have brainstormed some ideas and examples below to help inspire you with creating or perfecting your space.

Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation spaceSight

  • Decorate the walls!  Mantras, resources and diagrams you’re learning from or just things you think are pretty are all great visuals to add to your space.
  • Gods or goddesses that you believe in, wish to invoke, or are drawn to (there’s probably a reason you like that one!) are a great addition to your sacred space
  • Plants help make the space soothing and cozy.  They are great for de-stressing and purifying the air.
  • Find a way to store your props, resources and other things you might want that feels put together to you.  You don’t want clutter but you also don’t want to have to go fetch things.  Make it easy to get to everything you might need.
  • Nice light helps make the space warm and homey.

Sound

  • Music can energize and invigorate you or calm and soothe you.  Find your favorite songs for your practice or your different practices
  • Instruments can be a fun addition to your practice- like a bell, chimes or a singing bowl– something you can play along to mantras with or meditate with or to mark the beginning and end of your practice
  • Singing along to mantra can also be a fun part of a spiritual practice

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SmellIdeas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space

Smell can really help set the mood for your practice.  Aromatherapy can also energize or calm you.  Try candles, incense, and essential oils to help choose your mood.

Touch

  • Make sure you have ample space to move.  Some yoga poses stretch a bit past the mat.  Try to find enough space so you won’t be hitting a wall or furniture when you reach out
  • Be sure you have a good mat (or a few mats if you like to yoga with friends). Think about what features are important to you, like non-slip material or thick support.
  • Cozy props are the best!  Consider what props would best support your practice, such as
    • bolster
    • strap
    • eye pillowIdeas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space
    • pillows
    • yoga blanket
    • malas
Amazonite and Rudraksha Mala Necklace- 108 Hand-knotted beads
Also see our malas and yoga wear on Etsy 🙂
  • Comfy yoga clothes are a must.  You want to feel free to move in any way that calls to you.  Make sure you won’t have to be distracted by any discomfort.  (Check out our Yoga Shop for some great yoga pants, tops and accessories!)
This beautiful mantra, "Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu" is on one side of the mug, and its English translation is on the other: "May All Beings Be Happy and Free." Perfect for a cozy cup of tea or coffee. ($15-20)
Also see our yoga accessories and prints!

 

Taste

Something to sip, like teas or infused water, are nice for before and after yoga.  It’s also important to have plenty of water to stay hydrated during your session.

Your yoga space should be a spot that you feel drawn toward, a place where you want to be- just like your yoga practice.  Add whatever additional touches you feel you may need to make it absolutely yours.

 

 


Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space

What to look for in a yoga class to find your favorite teacher, style OR become a better instructor

Yoga Teacher’s Eye: what a yoga instructor can learn at a yoga class

Things to think about in a yoga class to find your favorite class or style OR learn to be a better instructorThings to observe in a yoga class

Here are a few concepts you can keep an eye out for in class if you are learning about teaching yoga.  These aspects can also help you find your favorite teacher or style of yoga if you are trying different classes.

  • style– along with the style of yoga, how does this instructor interpret it?  e.g. Is it classic vinyasa or a little slower?  Is it heavy on lunges? Do they hold the poses for a long time or flow freely between asanas?  Did they bring in a few poses from another style of yoga?
  • personality– how does the teacher add their own flair to the class? What attributes do they bring to the class that make it different from another class in the same style of yoga?
  • voice– what is the quality of the instructor’s voice?  e.g. Are they loud enough? Is their voice gentle and soothing?  Is it firm and encouraging? Does it inspire you to add energy to your poses?
  • cues– how does the instructor describe the poses and transitions?  Does it give you a new way of thinking about the pose?  Is there an alignment tip you hadn’t heard before?  Is it clear what you need to do?
  • sequencing– how do the poses flow together?  Is there a connection between poses you hadn’t thought of before? Was the class leading to one particular pose?  Were there groups of types of poses (like standing then arm balances then abs?)
  • theme– how does the instructor bring it all together?  Did the class focus on one aspect of alignment? A concept, like propping vs. collapsing vs. yielding?  Was the class devoted to the idea of peace, balance, femininity? Or one of the Hindu gods? A full moon?
  • reflection– the last thing to think about is how the class affected you.  Did you like the style? Would you prefer to do things another way if it were your class?  What did you learn?  What take-aways can you find- about yoga, any of these concepts or yourself?

Putting it all into action- my experience at a retreat

A couple of weekends ago, 2 gal-pal yoginis and I headed down to the beach for a yoga retreat and some rest and relaxation in the sun.  Since I haven’t been to a yoga class in a couple of months, I was excited to listen and learn and of course move.  I practice and teach regularly, but it’s so nice to also receive some instruction and improve my own poses and practice.

What to look for in a yoga class to find your favorite teacher, style OR become a better instructorI think since yoga teacher training, though, I will likely never see a class in the same way.  I am forever filing away phrases for cues and noting things down about transitions and a teachers’ style and personality.  In ytt, our instructor warned us about this, saying, “you will never be the same again, but that’s probably a good thing.”

At the retreat, one of the most interesting things for me was the structure of the classes.  The teachers spent probably 75% of class in standing postures.  Especially in the early morning, that was hard for me.  I’m not exactly lazy, but I’ve never been the most energetic person either.  Also, it doesn’t go with the style yoga I’ve learned and embraced.  I know many people enjoy this active yang style of yoga, but I learned during that weekend that my style is a little calmer.

I think yoga is a sort of spectrum.  There are yogis who are there for the workout and yogis who are there for the spiritual practice and yogis who want some combination of the two.  The names of the yoga practices can help identify that sort of balance that a teacher offers or a practioner desires but there’s such a range within each style, so in a way the only way to know about any given class or style is to try it.

Something else I noticed at the retreat was the use of voice.  The main instructor had a very strong voice with clear, deliberate cues.  She was firm and energetic, like her class.  She used great imagery to describe the way the poses could be gracefully transitioned and practiced.

What to look for in a yoga class to find your favorite teacher, style OR become a better instructorThe instructor gave supportive guidance in the arm balance workshop- talking with each yogi individually about their struggles with gravity, strength, balance and fear.  She showed some humility in inversions as she modeled a pose that wasn’t her strongest, still giving valuable tips and demos.  I also noticed how incredibly important it is to be personable off of the mat with each of the students.  I admired these qualities in instructors.

At the retreat, we had early morning meditations.  The instructor encouraged us not to speak before mediation in the morning, which I really liked.  It made the practice more serene and organic. I noticed in the meditation, she didn’t give direction for our thoughts.  Some styles of meditation try for a mind completely free of thoughts, in which case no instruction is needed.  I found out I prefer a meditation where the mind is focused on one train of thought, like the breath or a mantra.  It is easier for me, but it also lends itself to a practice that feels more meaningful to me.

It’s interesting how seeing a style that was quite different from mine reinforced my understanding of my preferences and my yoga style.  I had a great time and learned a lot, but much of it was about myself and my yoga.

“Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.” -Judith Hansen Lasater


Choosing happiness; ideas, meditations and book recommendations for being happier moment to moment

Choosing Happiness as a Lifestyle

Choosing happiness; ideas, meditations and book recommendations for being happier moment to momentI’ve been thinking a lot lately about happiness and choices that we make; how these things affect our demeanor, our mood, our opinion of the world, the way we interact with others and the way that they see us, and perhaps most importantly, how we see ourselves.  I think many of us can benefit from choosing happiness.

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My friend Kelly just visited and I always feel like she’s bubbling over with positivity and fun and I think she actually sees me the same.  I sometimes forget to be that person though.  Seeing her was like the seven years we’ve been apart were the blink of an eye.  We went right back to our old joyous selves, only a little older and saner.  We still broke some rules and laughed more than we talked.  My world feels brighter when she’s in it.  Certain special other people also transform me in this way.  But it got me thinking- why aren’t I always this person?  Do I wait for someone to coax it out of me?  Can’t I choose it for myself more often?

Life is a Party

I’m reading a book called Everyday Joy, about choosing to see life as the biggest, best party anyone was every invited to, which is a pretty big fantastic idea, overflowing with fun.  But shouldn’t life be like that?  Isn’t it fun?  “In each and every moment, you have the ability to choose to enjoy yourself or not.”  Always, you can opt to be happy and joyful.

Sometimes, it feels like external factors like a long line or internal factors like a headache are in control, but in reality, it’s always you.  You can let something or someone get you down or you can choose not to let the interaction ruin your day, hour, or even minute.

You can observe rather than absorb the negativity.  It’s a choice.  It may take some practice not to let the moment crawl back into your mind later if you choose to ignore it now.  But what good does it really do to revisit the negative and unpleasant?  Why not choose to move on to this moment?  And enjoy it?

Meditation and Presence

One of Thich Nhat Hanh‘s famous meditations is “Present Moment, Wonderful Moment.”  Inhale the world exactly as it is right now and exhale your appreciation back out into it.  Simple.  Beautiful.

You can practice this same concept in your waking life as well- appreciating and showing gratitude for the beautiful and joyous in the world.

I’ve heard time and again that people are happiest when they are present in the moment– not doing one thing and thinking of another.

Yin AND Yang, ALWAYS

The other influential book I’m reading now is *The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga.  I’m still on the introduction about Yin and Yang.  Yin is dark, passive, slow, female, night.  Yang is light, active, fast, male, day.  These descriptions seem so concrete and easy to identify.  However, every moment is relative- like the shadow of the sun moves slowly as the Earth rotates, changing what is dark and what is light.

Although yin and yang are opposites, they always contain a bit of each other.  Even in a fast-paced vinyasa class, you may still find a yin-style slowness and calm in your breath or mind.  Even in a sad or difficult moment, you can find some small joy if you look.  Even in a happy moment, there may be some small pain or hardship.  It’s all a matter of perspective and choosing to place your dao- your balance, your center- on the happy side.

See your joy

Personally, I know I need more practice- more mental awareness of choosing to be happy, rather than continuing with my norm.  I want to honor the joy in myself and allow it to come out more.  In an effort to start to train my mind to find the happiness, I want to give it a head start for where we (my mind and I) can likely find joy and embrace it.  Starting with where it comes easily may help me remember to look when it’s harder.

  • laughing with my kindergarten students- they are hilarious!  I love them (even when they’re naughty)
  • talking or joking with my man
  • exploring this magical world, like different temples in town (even with the stares I get)
  • dancing and singing, especially to mantras
  • girl time with friends
  • giving in to certain impulses- grabbing a chocolate or smiling at a stranger
  • feeling the wind rush by on my motorbike
  • watching the sunset and/or the birds (even when it’s smoggy)
  • asking questions (even when it’s hard)- I enjoy digging a bit deeper sometimes
  • savoring each bite or sip
  • waiting and watching the world do what it does wherever I may be (even in line when I’m starting to get impatient)


You can try this too

For a meditation, start with thinking about something that makes you happy.  Think of the details of that thing, person or situation.  Feel it fully.  Then go deep into the happiness it brings you, dwell on it.  Be so intensely taken by the happiness that you become it.  Let go of the impetus that brought you to this happiness and just be happy, be happiness.

Choosing happiness in each and every moment may be a difficult undertaking at first, but with practice and awareness, it can be done.  This world can be so beautiful and joyous if we choose it.

Moments of Mindfulness; great book recommendation for meditations Thich Nhat Hanh

Moments of Mindfulness: Must-Have Meditation Book by Thich Nhat Hanh

I have a couple of books by Thich Nhat Hanh, but Moments of Mindfulness is my favorite.  It’s a set of 52 meditations, with the idea of having a new meditation to contemplate each week for a year.  Letting the words resonate within you for a full week leaves lots of room for insight and new understanding of the words and how they may apply to your life.  I’m going to share one of my favorite meditations from this book here

A flower
does not have to
do anything
to be of service,
it only has to be a flower.
That is enough.
A human being,
a true human being,
is enough
to make the whole world
rejoice

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The book also starts with a beautiful introduction on mindfulness; the true meaning and value of mindfulness, different ways to apply mindfulness to different aspects of your life, and miracles of mindfulness.  One of my favorite parts of the introduction is a breathing exercise.  I like to use parts of it in the warm-up for my yoga class, reminding yogis to relax and focus on their breathe and being present.

The book also has a nice spacious layout with soothing circular art accompanying each meditation.  It’s a nice size to hold too.

It’s a lovely little book!

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yoga

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yogaFor many years, I only did yoga asana in a group fitness class or with a video. I needed someone to follow, someone to tell me what to do next and guide me from one pose gracefully into another.

When I moved to Myanmar, I had two dreams: that I would be able to drive a motorbike around and that there would be a fabulous yoga studio for me to practice at. Only one of those wishes came true: I bought a motorbike on my first Saturday in the country.

So to make up for the other unanswered dream, I started doing videos online.  However the electrical power supply and the internet were both unreliable. I started doing 20 minute “Yoga Download” podcasts. I liked it, but the podcasts were definitely very complete sessions—straight through from warm up to cool down. So I never felt that itch to do just one more pose, though my muscles and joints longed for more.

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Intro: My Start Slow with Yoga Self Practice

One day, I didn’t have any new podcasts so I simply rolled out my mat. That’s always the first step: roll out the mat. At first, I just sort of stood on it awkwardly in mountain pose, thinking soooo wait what do I do again?

Then I remembered sun salutations. I struggled at first with small things, like wait, when do I raise up to the flat back again? Before or after the downward dog? Or both?

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yogaBut after a bit, my muscles started to engage and my mind started to connect with my body. I could feel my blood flowing and my lungs pumping. It all felt so right. I knew I needed the movement. After a few rounds, I sort of stopped again, stuck. Well. Then what?
Slowly poses started to come to mind and I threw a couple of vinyasas in here and there when I remembered. My transitions were clunky and disjointed.  As I remembered various poses, I did them. I was standing, balancing, then laying on the mat, then seated before standing again. I had a hard time remembering what I did on one side so I could also do it on the other. I just did everything I could think of! Then after a while, more and more poses were flooding my mind but I had to take savasana because I tired myself out!

The reason I’m sharing this story is to spread encouragement. It’s wonderful to start and to try asana on your own.

Starting your yoga self-practice

If you’ve been to a fair number of classes, you probably know more poses and more about them than you think. Trust yourself and your knowledge when you’re on the mat.

Get visual reminders

Look for some resources, like info-graphics from Pinterest with a whole collection of poses. Print them so you can glance at them for inspiration from time to time.  I recommend printing or buying an image or poster that’s how lots of poses at once for easy reference.  You won’t have to stop your practice to see what poses you can do next.  Alternatively, you could get a Yoga Sequencing Deck to help inspire and remember poses AND put them in order for your practice.  This particular deck corresponds with the book,Yoga Sequencing: Designing Transformative Yoga Classes which helps break down poses by levels and gives many sample sequences.

Inspirational Books

Read some yoga books, like Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit. This book is very helpful for describing the process for getting into each pose and what to focus on once you’re in it. It was great for me as a reminder of the alignment and goals of the poses. If you’re worried about hurting yourself in self-practice, this book could be the reassurance you need to find yourself on the mat.

Another fantastic book is 2,100 Asanas: The Complete Yoga Poses.  It literally has 2100 different poses.  It’s a great book to grow with.  As you become more flexible and develop more strength, you can find new poses to challenge you every step of the way.

Draw it out

Drawing little sequences for yourself so you know which poses in particular you want to tackle. It is ok to stray from the plan if you find your body actually wants to do something else.

Listen to your body

As you became more and more comfortable with poses and sequences, you’ll start to hear from your body more and more. For example from my experience, I could feel tightness in the back of my leg and I knew from experience downward dog would elongate the muscle perfectly to soothe it. Or I would just get a sense that my body really, really wanted to drop down into malasana (garland pose). That was one of my most common distractions from standing poses: desire to do malasana. I almost always give in to whatever my asks.  I think it’s good to give your body what it wants in terms of asana.  It usually knows what it needs.  There’s a quote, something like, “I listen when my body whispers so I won’t have to hear it shout.”

Pain

On the topic of listening to your body, be aware of signs of pain. In yoga, it’s good to challenge yourself and push yourself. Try new poses, new binds, new variations. However, it’s also good to stop where you feel resistance. You never want to feel real pain in yoga. Injuries take a long time to recover from, physically and mentally.

Start slow when you need to

Sometimes my body would tell me it was too tired to start so I’d lay on the mat in supta badda konasana (reclining bound angle pose) and just wait to feel the pull to shift into a supine twist or happy baby (ananda balasana). Once I got going, I often found starting a few poses begged for more and I would be standing, balancing and striving for new limits before I knew it.  Usually, a little movement will coax you into wanting more.

Some days I practice for 10 minutes and some days I have to cut myself off after an hour and a half or so because I have other things I should do. You never know what may be waiting inside that will find you on the mat.

Creating a Yoga Space

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yogaOne of the other most important things about practicing is finding a good place to do it. Make sure you have enough room and set up a pleasant atmosphere for yourself. BKS Iyengar says you must find a place with good light and no insects, but I think it goes way beyond that. Make your space sing: light a Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation spacecandle or incense, turn on some music that reflects your mood or your practice, de-clutter, add something nice to look at or inspire you. If you have props, like a bolster or block or strap that you use, bring them to your space. If you feel at peace and at home in your yoga space, you will be much more likely to feel drawn to it and want to practice.  Click the image at the right to learn more about creating your own yoga space.

Final words of Encouragement

I’m 100% sure you can do it!  Roll out your mat today.

“Yoga isn’t about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.” Self-practice will teach you a lot about yourself inside and out; body, mind, and soul.

Self-practice Suggestions

• Roll out your mat and start
• Trust yourself and your knowledge
• Be present
• Listen to your body

Outrageous Openness Book Recommendation- trusting the universe to help guide you on your life path

Outrageous Openness: A Great Book On Trusting the Universe

Outrageous Openness Book Recommendation- trusting the universe to help guide you on your life path

I read Outrageous Openness last year, but I keep talking about it and I keep coming back to it.  This well-written, compelling book encourages its readers to trust in the divine (whatever “divine” may mean to each individual).  Outrageous Openness is a compilation of instances where the author did exactly that and the amazing way that events unfolded in each circumstance.  The stories are almost eerie, like watching a magic trick, but it’s enticing.

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It was amazing to me; as I was reading this, I tried trusting in the divine to bring what I needed and avoid giving me things I thought I needed, but actually wouldn’t serve me.  It was amazing how often the person I needed to talk to would walk around a corner or how things kept popping up to solve even the smallest of problems.

Through the various stories in the book, the author weaves a thread of spirituality and wisdom.   The author has a very encouraging, warm voice.  For me, it was one of those books where I almost wanted to slow down my reading so I would have more for later.  I didn’t want it to end!