“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built”
If you’ve ever naively (but with good intention) wandered into a hot vinyasa yoga class, full to the brim of soon-to-be drippy sweaty, heavy breathing, bendy yogis and managed not to walk out in the first 5 or 10 minutes (never to dare return) you will understand exactly what I mean. For those of you that have no idea of what I’m on about or want to know more, I've taken the time to come up with my top 10 of how to approach hot vinyasa yoga for the first few weeks a little later on, just in case you’re interested in a personal journey of initial pose wobbles, repetition, shakes, stability, inner peace, well-being and liberation.
To honor my new awakenings with yoga, I’ve designed some yoga inspired Mala prayer necklaces and bracelets and other items to add toThe Bodhi Collection, a newly created and growing collection that encompasses yoga inspired jewelry. Here’s some pictures of some of the new items from the collection that can be found in the Luluké shop:
To help me launch this new range I had to learn how to create macramé (macra-may) sliding knots to help me get things started. What’s macramé? Quite simply, macramé is a form of knotting to create knot patterns. If you are interested in learning more about macramé here’s an excellent website that shows you lots of different types of macramé http://fusionknots.com with links to free YouTube videos. This is a close-up of the sliding macramé knot clasp I use:
I've come to a point where the indulgences of the last couple of years, such as a few too many dates with easy going friends (Ben, Jerry, Bud and Chianti) and a lack of exercise has become only too evident. I’ve realized, with the help of irritating sayings like "when you get to our age" and "life begins at 40", that it's too easy to get sucked into the belief that there's nothing you can do about the effects of aging or the aches and pains and you just have to give into it.
I had a scare a few months ago where some of the muscles in my back and neck were so severely tied in tight knots, that one morning, I awoke with a head that felt way too heavy for its body. Scarily, I couldn’t lift my arms to brush my hair or teeth, sit and sew or bead. I burst into tears and felt completely helpless. I quickly decided I wasn't buying into this getting old gig, without a fight back. I started my recovery with a deep massage in the affected areas that made things feel initially worse for a couple of days and leaving me full of regret. When I recovered from that experience I started focusing on my sitting posture more and started to attend regular yoga classes (mainly hot vinyasa) 4-6 times a week (yes, your allowed to call me insane) ... immediately followed by a 1-3 mile jog/run. I was amazed at how much easier it was to walk at 4 mph without breaking a sweat and run at 6-7 mph with (unbelievable) ease, like I’d never been able to do before.
Apparently my demeanor is happier (to be honest, I feel it too) and my muscles (all over) feel more toned. The cellulite that Ben, Jerry, Bud and Chianti helped me collect at the top, front and back of my thighs has received a well-deserved beating, my skin has more firmness and glow (all verified by my darling husband, to confirm it’s not just in my imagination) and I'm feeling more confident and healthy as each week passes by. Also, I have already started to repeat what I've learned in class at home and prepared my own flow for when I went on holiday in August (I was a loyal yogi packing my mat and I committed to it!) and it's useful for when I don't have the time to hit the gym. Although, I won't be turning the heat up at home to 90-100 degrees, as in Hot Vinyasa yoga.
Here's 10 tips for how to approach Hot Vinyasa/slow burn yoga group classes, if you're reasonably new to it:
1. Lose any inhibitions or self-awareness you may have of being in a group class, everyone there is there for their self-improvement and focused on what they’re doing, not you. They all (well most) sweat and wobble so you will fit right in. You may even experience moments of 'I CAN really do this' one day and then 'Oh my goodness I can’t balance to save my life' the next! Just don't give in to the latter. Try not to keep up with other yogis that seem to know everything with an elegant seamless flow. They have practiced for a lot longer and you are just at the beginning of your journey. You will be amazed at how quickly you start to change in your flow, elegance and confidence as the practices tally up and the weeks pass by. You will also notice how firm your grounding is and your overall posture outside the yoga studio, not to mention the thoughts about what you can and cant do - yet. I found this article to explain svadhyayh (self study) to help you understand what I'm on about in more detail:
2. Remember and master your deep breathing (Ujjayi) from start to finish, otherwise you will not reap the full benefits. This is not easy when you are in the full flow of things and will take lots of practice. Here’s a video to help you:
4. Invest in a good towel to go over your mat. Instability can disturb your flow and a towel stops you slipping and crashing into an undignified heap on your mat (like I did a couple of times to begin with). I quickly purchased a great fitted mat towel from www.namastay.com. Every so often they have a 30% off offer so look out for that. The company was set up by a local Heights resident, which is a bonus too. If purchasing a towel is a stretch on your budget another solution to stop slipping is by placing a strap under your hands to secure them in place or use a regular towel.
5. Take child pose or any other pose you feel comfortable in at any point that feels right for you (I have included a link to correct poses later on). Just remember to keep focused on your Ujjayi breath. Here’s a video to demonstrate what Ujjayi breath is not:
7. If you mess up look around and find where you need to be and correct yourself. Be kind to yourself. If you start to wobble holding a pose it’s a good thing and it will strengthen you (just try it). If you are in pain or too much discomfort stop and modify. To feel pain in the belly of a muscle is okay and means you are building strength but to feel pain in muscles going into bones is not. Ask your instructor about any questions you may have. If you have a health issue that you feel limits you, mention it to them and they will help you to modify poses. Obviously, if you have physical condition seek advice from a professional first.
8. When you have non instructional moments it's okay to improvise and go with your own flow or a pose of your choice or rest. It’s also important to feel you are challenging yourself so make sure you get the balance right for you. Read the quote at the beginning of this post again and you will understand what the foundation of yoga is about.
9. All instructors are different in their style and approach. Find the ones that suit you and where you are in your practice. Also, be mindful of the instructors style and try and find ones that walk around aiding people with their posture positions, gives advice and gets to know you. Avoid ones that stand at the front just doing yoga with the expectation that you just follow.
10. The following link helps with going into more detail on each of the typical poses you may encounter and the correct posture:
Here's a list of local yoga teachers and online resources that I have come across in my journey so far I thought worth a share:
1. Local yoga instructors (and awesome friends I couldn't not mention):
- Yogabrained.com - Tammy Astor (An absolutely fabulous darling)
- Eeperonyoga.com – Erin Esposito Peron (A very lovely and talented instructor with added skills in thai massage and more).
- Lunapresenceyoga.com - Julie Konrad (I credit Julie for the "use it or lose it" mantra that has haunted my mind since it escaped her lips, some time ago when I first arrived in the USA).
2. Lifetime Fitness - This is where I give a big shout out to Carrie T, Meghan B, Sarah M, Gina D and Sharon R for their teachings. I appreciate everyone of them and I list their names in no particular order!
3. http://yogawithadriene.com - One of my favorite online yoga instructors. I love the free videos on Adriene's site and what I love most about her is that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. Seriously, life is too short. If you look at her videos in more depth you will find that she also has a free 30 days of yoga series to warm you up.
4. http://www.theasanaacademy.com/ - Another online favorite, sign up to Brian's blog to get fantastic tips, videos and advice, he's one of the most energetic and flexible yogis out there that Iv'e seen... and feel free to email him with a question, he will come straight back to you!
5. duncanyoga.ca - Here's a quick 15 minute warm up yoga flow to relieve stress and warm you up for a run or just to start your day...
Now, some of you may be thinking what does yoga have to do with hand made? My answer to you guys is that it's all handmade, you don't need a ball or special shoes and you don't need a net. You don't necessarily need a mat or a towel and you can break into a flow ANYWHERE you wish (on a mountain or the moon) and keep on top of your health and well being. It's all within you.
I've sat on this post for quite a few weeks now and hesitated a few times about posting it. The reason for my hesitation is because I've been discovering new things as each week has passed by with yoga and I started to sense that I may be missing out something important if I posted too quick. I've now come back to my usual senses and outlook... that life is a journey where you have to let go of your fears (as you have to in yoga) because if you don't you will never move forward. Another point I think is worth a mention here is that with yoga you learn something new about yourself, your abilities and your limits continuously.
Okay if you've got this far I have one last thought, don't forget, you have to have the not so good days to really appreciate the good. Believe me when I say, that sometimes I feel like I can't balance to save my life, especially when I've let my diet go a bit, missed a few classes or not practiced at home, but once I realize I get right back to challenging myself and take it back where I want to be every time - In control of my health, because (for now) its all doable and handmade. No excuses.