I teach on Sunday evenings at a local yoga studio, so I feel that Sundays are a good day to throw some yoga into the blog midst. You can start your day off feeling cozy and if you are nearby to me? Join me for class some time. Click the link above to get there - first class is free ;)
I hear a lot of excuses from people about why they haven't tried yoga: they aren't flexible, they don't like heat/hot yoga, it's intimidating, they have injuries, they prefer cardio, they prefer no cardio, it's too woo-woo, etc. If you can come up with an excuse I haven't heard about doing yoga, I'll give you an american dollar.
Here's the thing - most of those excuses can be navigated if you ask a yogi. You don't need to be flexible, you can do yoga at any temperature, everything is intimidating at first, injuries can be benefited by yoga, yoga can have cardio or no cardio, you can go to a woo-woo yoga class or you can go to an entirely fitness class and find classes at every level in between. Seriously, a dollar if you come up with a reason I haven't heard.
The one of those excuses I find even a little legit is the intimidation one. Because, yeah, new things can be scary. Especially if you go to a class where everyone else has been going for years and the teachers just says something in Sanskrit and everyone else moves and you're like "Uhm, I speak English, actually." That is rough. But, like everything else in life, it will lose it's intimidating nature over time as you become more familiar with terms and poses and teachers. Ask questions! Get a private lesson! Go to a beginner level course or class! Call your friend Malia and say "Hey, I just don't get yoga." I'm happy to help.
Someday, I'll maybe record a class for you, but to get you started, here are easy things you can do in bed, on your mat, on the floor, pretty much anywhere as long as you're stationary and able to close your eyes (not driving).
Sit on your heels, close your eyes, breathe. Palms can face up or down, shoulders roll down the back, relax your jaw, breathe. Feel tall through your spine, reaching up through the top of your head and down through the tailbone. Deep breath in through your nose, out through your nose.
(not everyone can sit on their heels, if this is even too much, maybe just start seated in a chair)
This is a yoga pose. You're already doing yoga.
Stay seated on your heels, or maybe come to a comfortable seat in Easy Pose - that's criss-cross-apple-sauce, for all you who claim you don't do yoga - however you want to be seated is fine.
Start to drop your left ear toward your shoulder. Keep the spine straight and the shoulders rolled down your back, stretching out through the right side of the neck.
If you want a little bit more, inhale and lift the left arm up to rest your hand over your right ear. Don't worry about how you look and all the directions, just breathe. Don't pull the head down with the hand, but instead just allow it to rest. Gravity will take advantage of the extra weight and do the work for you.
Still want more? Bring the right arm up to about 45 degrees to take the stretch into your shoulder.
Whenever you're ready, inhale to lower the arms and lift the head back to center.
Now for the right side.
Inhale to lengthen up through the crown of the head and down through the tailbone. Drawn the bellybutton toward the spine, and exhale the right ear toward the shoulder. Ear comes down, shoulder doesn't come up, breathe. On your next inhale, consider bringing the right hand up and over to rest on your left ear. Breathe. Feel free to bring the left arm up to that 45 degrees. Relax the jaw, relax the shoulders, breathe.
Inhale back up to center, lowering the arms, whenever you're ready.
Inhale and reach the left arm up straight up toward the sky, bicep by your ear, shoulder shrugged down. Bend at the elbow to reach the fingertips toward the back of the neck. Bring the right arm around the low back, maybe stretching the fingertips up toward the neck. If you can, grasp fingers, attempting to draw the elbows in line with the spine.
Can't reach? No worries. Grab a towel, strap, or rope - whatever works - and hold it in the left hand, then grasp when you bring the right fingertips toward the center of the back. Try to walk the hands closer to each other as you are able.
Breathe, relax, release tension.
You're a rockstar.
Inhale to release the arms and come back through center.
Repeat on the right side.
Inhale the right arm up, relax through the shoulders and neck, bicep by the ear. Drop the hand down toward the neck by bending at the elbow. Bring the left arm around the low back and reach the fingertips up, maybe to grasp - maybe just walking the hands toward one another with a towel or strap. Think about your shoulders relaxing, breathe.
You've got this, yogi.
Yeah, I called you a yogi.
Inhale back to center whenever you're ready, lowering the arms down at the sides.
Let's stretch out those hands and wrists for all those Adho Muka Svanasanas you're going to be doing later.
(That's Downward Facing Dog, don't worry if you can't say it)
Extend your left arm out in front of you, palm facing down. Roll the shoulder down the back, feel the arm supported from underneath, tricep working to pull the arm and shoulder toward the body. Point the fingertips up toward the ceiling (or sky if you're outside!). Bring the right arm up, grasp the left fingers with the right and draw them backward. Just breathe as you stretch out through the wrist and the hand.
Release the fingers and rotate them to the inside. Bring the right hand back up to draw the left fingers back again. Keep the shoulders rolled down, draw the bellybutton in toward the spine.
Release the fingers and rotate them to the outside. The right hand returns to pull back the left fingers. Breathe, allow the hand and wrist to open up.
Release and then stretch it down. Draw the left fingers back toward the body with the right hand. Remember to breath, remember to smile.
Repeat these four motions on the right hand and wrist.
You control the length, the intensity, and the depth of each stretch. This is asana; postures and poses that you can do on your own, or come party with me.
You did it. You did yoga.
Now you just need $100 leggings and the transformation is complete.
Just kidding. You can party in your PJs at yoga class. It's the real reason we go. That, and savasana - which is when you lie down at the end of class on your mat and close your eyes and the instructors says a bunch of words, but really you're already sleeping.
Yoga is more than just postures, but we will get into that later. For now, this is an easy place to start and anyone can do it. Even you - ESPECIALLY YOU, Beloveds.