Say Yes To Yoga During Covid-19
The origins of yoga can be traced back more than 5,000 years. Physical benefits range from flexibility and strength to positive effects on blood pressure and glucose levels. Yoga may also decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. So how do we get regular with this beneficial practice? For those who have not tried yoga, how do we get started during COVID-19?
Q & A TODAY:
TARA, previous lawyer and yoga teacher for 20 years, now has her own business offering yoga and wellness workshops to law firms
EL, a multi-sport athlete her entire life and founder of a youth girls lacrosse league, now is a yoga instructor with CorePower
ANNE, a yoga teacher for 10 years, now leads yoga classes and heads up marketing and HR at a local gym
Q: There are so many types of yoga. It can be overwhelming to someone starting out. How does a person know which one to do?
That is a great question. The upside of having so many options is that there really is something for everyone. If you are brand new, and have no restrictions, I would look for three things. 1. Beginner, Level 1, or all levels class. Leveled classes are a good indicator that the studio or teacher is used to teaching people new to yoga. 2. Vinyasa or "Flow" Style. This will likely be the easiest style of yoga to find, as well as the most accessible to beginners. 3. A certified teacher. Teachers certified through Yoga Alliance will have RYT after their names.
Q: Some of the yoga apps have different lengths of time for yoga classes. What is the right length?
I don't think there is a right length, necessarily. Most importantly, find something that you can stick with for a few weeks. This is especially relevant when you are taking classes virtually. It may be a little harder to sustain attention and interest in a virtual environment. That is ok. Drop down to 30 minutes or 45 minutes, if you are finding 60 minutes too long. Just be sure that your muscles have time to warm up in the beginning and slowly cool down at the end.
Q: Many people are busy balancing work from home, increased domestic chores, and child care. For those with limited time, what 1-3 poses do you recommend for a quick break?
Taking a quick break is wonderful! The quick break yoga stretches should be gentle and warming so that you don't injure yourself. These are the ones that I recommend. You can hold each pose for several deep breaths at first and then start to move from one pose to the next a little faster, changing poses with each inhale and exhale. 1. Forward Fold 2. Chair Pose 3. Mountain Pose
Q: I know your athletics life has involved lacrosse, field hockey, and ice hockey. What brought you to yoga?
For most of my adult life, running or some form of exercise that involved running was my big release for mental health. I still LOVE to run, but two years ago (yes, age 50) I felt that I needed some change in my routine. My goal was to find something that combined a great workout and mindfulness MINUS pounding my hips/knees everyday. So, despite no experience whatsoever, I walked in the door of a local CorePower Yoga studio and tried a 60 minute Yoga Sculpt class advertised as "yoga for athletes." I stuck with the class 2x week for a month and became hooked because I felt physically more flexible and strong. I also started to feel much more balanced overall, body and mind.
Q: For those who are hesitant because they want a "workout,"what is some helpful advice?
This was a big issue for me as well. I think this is why a less traditional like Yoga Sculpt might be a way to start yoga. Look for a class that combines simple yoga flows with cardio and exercises like push ups, squats and lunges. That way, you know that your body will be warmed up, and all of your muscles, including your heart, will get a big workout. The yoga will help you tap into your breath and transform your flexibility.
Q: Like any practice, it can be tough to begin. How can beginners ease themselves in?
Right now at home, I would recommend trying a few different online yoga classes. CorePower On Demand has some fantastic Yoga Sculpt classes which is the format I prefer. Also, on YouTube I recommend any/all yoga videos by Jason Crandell. They are fantastic for beginners. Once you have tried a few different options, choose the one that you like the most and stick with it 2x/week for one month.
Q: Is there a time of day you recommend for yoga?
All times are good for yoga. Listen to your body and what it needs. Some people are morning people and prefer an energizing, centering practice first thing in the morning. Some people prefer a more restorative, relaxing practice at bedtime. Yoga is meant to feel good - both while you're doing it and afterward. So practice at a time that works for you.
Q: Any thoughts on the yoga apps? Which do you like?
I don't do a lot of app yoga but I've recently discovered Yoga in the Peloton app. They have made it free for 3 months. My daughters and I are loving all of these classes. I love that you can search by length of time as well as by level. I have taken several yoga classes and they have been terrific.
Q: People are juggling so much right now. What do you recommend if someone has 2 minutes?
BREATHE. The box breath method can be such a powerful mechanism to reset your body and your mind. People take breathing for granted because...well, it's breathing...but as soon as you focus on your breath, you deepen it. It's very calming and centering. You can learn more about box breathing here: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321805#the-box-breathing-method
Thanks to Tara, El, and Anne for the inspiration. Go yoga today. Namaste.
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