05-04-2016

6 Basic Yoga Poses For Beginners

I went to a yoga class with my friend yesterday. It was a last minute decision, and since we were so rushed to get to class, I didn’t really get to fully explain the class or anything (it was her first yoga class ever). Afterwards she said she would have enjoyed it more if she knew the poses and didn’t feel totally clueless as to what the yoga teacher was talking about – which is totally understandable…and which is what led me to this post.

I wanted to highlight some of the basic yoga poses that are done in almost every yoga class, so that if you’ve never been to a yoga class before, you sort of know what to expect. You can also do a few online yoga videos before going, in order to feel more comfortable. 

The yoga instructor was super nice, and let her know that everyone starts somewhere – which is true of many things in the fitness world. So often we are intimidated or scared to start something…whether it’s going to yoga, or joining a running club, or going to the gym. No one was an expert the first time they showed up to any of these things.

So anyway, here are 6 basic yoga poses for beginners :)

6 Basic Yoga Poses To Know Before Your First Yoga Class! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Child’s Pose

I actually don’t really like this pose too much, but it’s a restorative pose, and one that we go into when we are taking a short break in between flows. You can go into child’s pose at any time during the class if you need a break. You can either do knees together or knees apart. I like to reach  my fingers out as far as possible, or you can rest your bands behind you by your feet.

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Low Push-up To Up Dog

Low push-up (or chaturanga) into up dog is part of almost every flow in a yoga class. If you’re not able to do a low push-up yet (like me) you can skip it and just go into downward facing dog, which I’ll talk about in a second. So here is low push-up:

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and from this pose you flow into upward facing dog:

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I have a really tough time with this flow because I can’t yet get low enough in low push-up, but I am working on it! Once you’re in upward dog, you will go right into downward facing dog usually, so I’ll talk about that next!

Downward Facing Dog

From up-dog, you curl your toes under and then basically stick your butt up into the sky. You want to maintain a flat back. If you need to bend your knees to keep your back flat, then do so. Your down-dog should look something like this, depending on your flexbility:

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If you need to modify it, it can look like this:

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This is also used as a break sometimes in between certain poses, or as the beginning of different flows (like downward dog into lunges, etc. which I’ll talk about in a second). Notice how their backs are flat and it is one straight line from their butt to the crown of their heads. That is key!

Warrior Poses

Warrior 1,2, and 3 are usually all done within a class. Definitely 1 and 2. So let’s go over them. Here’s Warrior 1, which is basically a lunge with your hands overhead:

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Basically, throughout any pose or sequence, you want to make sure your neck and spine are in a neutral position. You don’t want to be slouching or hunched over. I always like the cue “chest up, shoulders up.” Ok so moving on to Warrior 2…

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Something my yoga instructor has been saying a lot to me about this pose is to make sure your ribs don’t collapse. In this pose, many people tend to bend at the ribs, instead of getting deeper into the lunge. So as you lower down, keep your ribs and spine straight up. I didn’t even realize I wasn’t doing this until the instructor came over and straightened me out. Only bend at the knee – it is so challenging but such a great leg and glute exercise! And here’s the last one, Warrior 3:

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This woman makes it look easy! I have a lot of trouble in this pose (and any balancing pose haha). But definitely a great one, especially for runners. As always, spine and neck should be straight. Really engage your core and plant your foot down. If you fall out of it, no problem, just get back into it. In most classes I am always falling all over the place :-P

Triangle Pose

I’m not yet flexibile enough to do this pose without blocks – which is a good point to address: use blocks if you have to! There is no shame in that. They really help get you into certain poses. Most yoga studios provide them for you. If you’re unsure how to use them, you can as your instructor before class. For this specific pose, I put the block on the inside of my foot and place my hand on it for support, but those who are more flexible will be able to reach down to the floor. Always remember to hinge at the hip. My instructor says the first movement is, “reach out as if you’re going to shake someone’s hand” then keep reaching until you can’t reach anymore and THEN hinge at the hip and lower yourself down, keeping your spine straight. If it bends at all, then you need blocks. See how this woman’s torso is totally straight?

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Pigeon Pose

Ahhh, my favorite pose. I do this one after all of my runs. It’s a great hip opener and glute stretch. Let me show you a few different variations. So this is full on pigeon pose:

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You can also place your head on the floor, as long as your hips stay squared off (not leaning to one side). If this is too deep of a stretch for you, here are two modifications:

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Or you can lie on your back and do it this way:

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Pull your knee in and you will still feel just as much of a stretch. Build up to pigeon pose.

So hopefully outlining a few basic yoga poses will help you before you go to your first class! Don’t feel intimidated at all. Instructors are there to help you, align you and show you the right way to do each move. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask before or after class.

Oh and every yoga class ends with you laying on your back with your eyes closed and relaxing for a bit…so enjoy! :-)

What are your favorite yoga poses if you’re a yogi?

Have you ever gone to your first fitness class and felt clueless?

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04-15-2016

I Love Yoga

I had an amazing yoga class yesterday…and am so sore today.

So as I’ve written before, I’ve been really loving cycling classes lately. But yoga has been slowly growing on me too. Every time I go to a class, I end up leaving feeling good and on some sort of endorphin high. But for some reason it’s getting to the class that is hard. But after yesterday I plan on going more often for sure.

I got to class and it turns out it was just me and one other woman. The instructor said she would give us a workshop on “the basics” and do hands on adjustments throughout. 

She put us up against the wall and then we went through poses like Warrior I, Warrior II, Triangle Pose and more. We used the wall to align oursevles right, and the instructor gave me cues for things I had never even thought to do or engage. I am feeling it all today!

We ended with handstand practice. I’m no where near close to doing a handstand, but she showed me how to practice kicking up, how to engage my core and back, and other tips.

We used the wall to do revolved half moon pose but I just couldn’t get it. My foot kept sliding off the wall and then my standing leg hip started to cramp (why does this always happen to me??). The other lady did it perfectly haha. Here’s a photo of what it should have looked like:

revolved half moon posePhoto Source

I really, really enjoyed this class. I like that the classes offered at Ride + Reflect are strength based (along with offering more vinyasa flows and gentle yoga classes). I guess in the past I wasn’t going to yoga as much because I wanted to lift in order to gain muscle strength, but let me tell ya…yoga works your muscles. My glutes are on fire today.

So for you yogis and yoga teachers, I have a few questions and hopefully someone can help!

  • Why does my hip cramp up in the above pose and also crow pose? Is it because I need more hip flexor strength? My hips aren’t tight (the instructor and an athletic trainer told me this), so I’m not sure what the deal is. I legit can’t even get into crow pose because one of my hip flexors immediately will cramp up.
  • What are some cues you give to people for basic poses like the warrior poses? Something I need to remember is to keep my chest and ribs up.
  • Any tips for learning how to do handstand? Should I also be doing poses or exercises for my arms?
  • If someone has anterior pelvic tilt like I do, should we avoid poses where you bend backwards?

Thanks for your input!

How often do you take yoga classes? What do you think it has helped you with the most?

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03-21-2016

5 Yoga Tips For Beginners

Happy Monday! I know I haven’t been writing as often but things have been pretty hectic. But I will be trying to write more regularly this week.

Today I wanted to talk about yoga. Last week I went to yoga classes and I really want to try to keep going more often. I always prefer running or spinning to yoga but after I leave a yoga class I’m always thinking, “wow I really need to go more.”

I did have strength class last week with my sister and really loved it….and even learned how to do a variation of compass pose! I really didn’t think I was going to be able to do that at all.

My sister was kind of nervous to go to this class because she’s only done one or two yoga classes before. And that’s why I wanted to write this post. I wanted to give some insight to fellow newbie yogi’s since I am one as well. So here are a few tips and insight before you go to your first or one of your first few classes.

Just starting yoga? Here are 5 yoga tips for beginners! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Don’t Be Intimidated

It can be scary to go to a class thinking that you’ll be the only one who can’t do certain things or that you’ll be surrounded by super flexible people. And while you might be surrounded by super flexible people (like I am in my class) it’s totally OK. Yoga classes are so open and accepting and that’s why I really love them. No matter what your ability is, the instructor will help you and talk you through poses. My instructor was very hands-on and adjusting my feet making sure they were the right width apart along with showing me how to properly do exercises so I don’t get hurt. She also spoke with my sister and I after class about how to do certain things to aid our neck pain and wrist pain. Your yoga instructors should make you feel comfortable and excited to continue learning and practicing.

Be Ready To Sweat

While yoga might seem like this relaxing meditative thing (and obviously some classes can be), you should also be ready to sweat. We went through a flow in my strength yoga class that had me dripping in sweat all within just a few minutes. Make sure you bring water to your class along with a towel if you sweat a lot like I do. An extra towel on your yoga mat can also help with hand grip if your hands start sliding.

You Might Get Gassy

This might be a little TMI but gotta throw it out there. I asked Christine of Love, Live, Surf about this (she is a yoga instructor) and she assured me it’s totally normal. In yoga classes, since you’re doing a lot of twisting and inversions, you might start feeling a little bit gassy. And obviously that can be embarrassing. I really don’t have a solution to this but just know that it’s a possibility haha. Christine said that instructors really don’t think anything of it and my thorough Google searches confirms that. But obviously that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing!

Use Props

Props are there for a reason such as blocks blankets and straps. Don’t be afraid to use them. Those aren’t just for the more experienced yogi’s. Those props can help you get into poses and in better alignment during poses. For example, I still can’t do triangle pose, so I use a block so I’m able to get to where I can as opposed to forcing my body to stretch beyond its abilities.

You Can Always Go To Child’s Pose

Whenever you feel like you need a break or you’re not comfortable with a pose you can always go into child’s pose. Instructors encourage that and should remind you of that throughout the practice. I really love this because if I can’t do something or I’m just feeling tired, I will go into child’s pose for a few seconds to catch  my breath. Child’s pose is such a great restorative pose and something you should add to your regular routine as it is! I love doing it after runs.

I really do want to go to yoga classes more often and I need to make that commitment. I even ordered myself a Jade Yoga Mat! It’s a bit pricier than any yoga mat I have had but I love how grippy and cushioned it is.

So now I just need to actually make it to classes! My goal is 2 times a week. It’s just so hard balancing running, cycling, yoga and strength training. But I also know that if I am able to do all of these things now it will make me much stronger for when marathon training starts in July.

How do you balance multiple types of exercises during your half marathon or marathon training? Share your schedule with me please so I can get some ideas!

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02-25-2015

How Do I Get Into Crow Pose?

This is something I have not mastered yet. I’ve been doing yoga sporadically throughout the past couple of years, and my flexibility has really increased. This year my goal is to practice more challenging poses, like crow pose and handstands (I’m no where near being able to do a handstand).

I can occasionally get into crow pose. Proof:

Crow Pose
But the problem is I can literally only hold it for 2 seconds before my hip flexor cramps up. Why does this happen?? It’s just gets tight and feels like a Charlie horse. I have tried the little tricks like placing a block under my forehead so that mentally I don’t feel like I’m going to topple over, and I’ve tried looking a few inches in front of me as opposed to straight down. Still can’t get into the pose!

So for all of you who are working on this like me, I found some more tips online to share with you (and that I’ll be trying). And if you CAN get into crow pose (jealous), here’s an article on how to make it even more challenging.

Tips For Getting Into Crow Pose

  • Place a block under your toes so that you’re more lifted (Peanut Butter Runner) – This makes sense. Perhaps this will help my mental block of feeling like I’m going to fall over.
  • Start in tripod headstand (POP Sugar) – I’m not even sure I can do this, but with the help of a wall, maybe I could and then get into crow?
  • Jump into it from downward dog (POP Sugar) – This seems kind of scary but could make sense…I’ll try not to crack open my head ;)
  • Use the block as support (FitFluential) – When I placed the block in front of my head it was mainly for mental support, it wasn’t touching my head. This video shows you how to use the block as an extra source of support by placing your forehead on it before putting your knees on your arms. Interesting!
  • Purposely fall forward (Antranik.org) – I like this tip. He suggest placing a pillow in front of your face and purposely falling forward. This helps you get over your fear of falling and allows you to feel when your body will go too far forward.
  • “Flex the bananas out of your abs.” (Antranik.org) – I don’t think I’ve been doing this. I think I’ve just been trying to balance. (He also shows how to jump into crow from downward dog)

Now I’m really excited to work on this. I need to go back to the yoga studio. I had bought 10 classes over the summer and probably still have 7 left. It’s just hard to balance yoga, cross training and lifting with running! How do you do it?

As I mentioned, I do also want to be able to do a handstand eventually. So I think I’m going to try this March yoga challenge by @beachyogagirl on Instagram.

handstand
Any tips you could provide me with would be so helpful and appreciated! Goal is to be able to do both of these by the end of 2015 ;)

Are you able to do crow pose and handstand?

What’s a challenging yoga pose for you?

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01-17-2014

My First Hot Yoga Experience

Earlier this week, my local lululemon store posted that they were having a Blacklight Yoga Party on Thursday, at a studio in my area. I quickly RSVPed for my sister and me because we had never done hot yoga before.

I was really nervous…I was afraid of sweating an insane amount and being stinky and having people be disgusted (sometimes I over-think things). My yogi friend assured me that everyone will probably smell and be insanely sweaty.

I went to social media for other tips for a first time hot yoga-er, and some common ones were:

  • Drink a lot of water in the days leading up.
  • Bring a big towel.
  • Bring a water bottle.
  • Bring an open mind.

I absolutely loved it. I have had this instructor before at lululemon’s community classes, and usually it’s pretty mellow, but this class was really upbeat and fun. We got light-up bracelets at the door too!

The class started with upbeat music, and once Timber by Pitbull & Ke$ha came on, everyone was singing and grooving along to the beat. PS – I’m obsessed with that song, I could listen to it on repeat.

This was certainly the most challenging yoga class I’ve taken. Obviously, because it was hot. But also, the sequence of movements and how long certain poses were held made it tough! The good thing was that the room wasn’t TOO hot-about 97-100 degrees. I have read other reviews of hot yoga where people have said it was too hot to even concentrate, and that’s what I was afraid of.

When people say the heat helps you get deeper in your poses, they aren’t lying! I got into my deepest downward dog, usually I have to keep my knees bent, but this time they were straight and I almost got my heels to touch the ground.

Overall, it was a great class, and I love yoga in general. She ended it on a spiritual note, reading us a quote while we lay in corpse pose. I left feeling refreshed and really wanting to commit to adding more yoga into my life.

Blacklight + yoga = awesome

My clothes were definitely soaked through afterwards, but you really feel good! I would like to add in hot yoga to me exercise routine-just need to find the time and budget ;)

Have you ever tried hot yoga? Or yoga in general?

What are your thoughts about it?

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