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THE BASICS OF YOGA
Drive by any shopping center and you’re bound to see a yoga studio, and like me, you may be intrigued, but ultimately intimidated. Thanks to places that offer things like hot yoga, you won’t see me signing up anytime soon.
But yoga itself combines exercise and meditation, and may be the perfect solo exercise for renewing your body and mind. Now don’t leave me yet…Because of my fear of group classes (and not wanting to pay for a gym membership), I’ve experimented with several at-home yoga practices. Over the years, it’s been easier than ever to take a good quality yoga class from the comfort of your home, and now my go-to is the Down Dog App, which offers a great free version of tons of customizable classes.
It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with Late Stage Lyme that I realized the importance of regular exercise, but in my case, the need for a gentle form of exercise. Lyme also affects your moods and checking in with my mental state was also a skill I needed to work on. Fortunately, yoga provides benefits for both!
LET’S GET STARTED!
There are four parts to every good yoga practice. Let me walk you through the basics:
Usually you start in a seated position and take a few deep breaths to begin your practice. The benefit of the breath is using it intentionally while you move. Use slow, steady breaths, in sync with how your body is moving. When getting into position, inhale. When getting out of position, exhale. Use it to get deeper into a pose.
The basic routine for movement in yoga is:
- Warm ups to loosen your body
- Standing poses for stability
- Mat work to strengthen core and balance
- Cool down as a relaxation practice
You shouldn’t be in any pose that causes pain or discomfort or makes your breathing out of sync with your body. It should be a very focused, calm exercise as you are mindful of how your body is responding and what it needs in that moment. Do a body scan several times throughout your practice to release any tension you may be feeling.
These poses are done seated on your mat, or on your belly and back. The cool-down part of your practice is something you’ll look forward to because it focuses on relaxing your body before meditation.
I personally meditate using Headspace once I’m laying down and done with yoga, but here are a few ideas to try:
- Repeat a mantra such as “In this moment I am already healthy” or “I choose to be happy”
- Take a few breaths and ask your body, “What do you need?” This may reveal that you need to slow down today, get some fresh air or social interaction.
MORE RESOURCES ON YOGA
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Enjoyed this post on yoga? You might want to read the rest of the posts in the Mindfulness Series:
- What Is Mindfulness and How to Start Using it Today
- How to Meditate
- The Basics of Yoga
- The Surprising Health Benefits of Journaling
- 21 Apps To Help You Practice Mindfulness
- 5 Reasons to Slow Down Your Day
Have a chronic illness? You can follow my Lyme/Chronic Illness Pinterest Board for more helpful resources here: