Yoga has changed my life, and it can change yours too. While I have always been sporty I haven’t always been into yoga. Now that I am, I find that incorporating even the smallest yogi habits and philosophies reaps huge rewards.
My love for yoga came about when we moved to Cartagena, Colombia for my husband's work, leaving behind my nearly 15-year career in the hotel business. It was there I had the luxury of time and the opportunity to deepen my yoga practice. Up to three times a week, I took classes with two inspirational teachers, Fabiana and Sol, often taking private lessons or attending special events organized by the yoga community in Cartagena. Through regular practice, I began to fall in love with yoga and the calm it brought to my mind, body, and soul.
Having taught a Step class for 8+ years and very high-intensity aerobics classes, yoga presented me with a very different challenge…the challenge of letting go, quieting my mind, and learning to be in the here and now. After our move to Arizona two years ago, I decided to take a deeper dive, and have been working on earning my Yoga Teacher Certification through www.drishtibeats.com for the past 14 months. I am 75% through the training and through my studies have discovered that yoga is so much more than a physical practice…it is a lifestyle.
My experience has taught me that yoga doesn’t have to be all or nothing… that it is best to ease into it by making small daily changes. Here are some suggestions on how you can dip into yoga, discover what feels right for you, and make it your own!
1. Rise and Shine
Setting your alarm five minutes earlier than what you have been and use this time to "grab" a few minutes of quiet time, meditate, journal or do a few gentle asanas, and poses to start your day more limber and feel more grounded for the rest of your day.
2. Power Walk
Use your lunch hour or any time possible for a walking meditation, get fresh air, leave your phone behind and listen and notice (but notice only!) the sounds around you. Use your breath (inhale for 4 counts, exhale for 6 counts or any combination with a longer exhalation) to remain connected to yourself and not let your surroundings distract you.
3. Office Asana
Gentle asanas (poses) can release stress throughout the day
Seated side bends
Seated spinal twists
Seated figure four (crossing your ankle, foot flexed, across the opposite knee and gently push your crossed leg down, avoiding the knee joint by applying the pressure on your thigh)
Waterfall (lay on your back, legs extended above your hips) --> this obviously requires some additional privacy
4. Balancing Act
Try balancing on one foot at your standing desk, brushing your teeth, or in line at the grocery store...be sure to switch sides, and connect to your breath. Challenge yourself to do a tree pose or a shiva squat.
5. After-Dinner Digestif
Instead of an evening in front of the screen, take the time for gentle stretches
Cat/Cow on all fours
Corpse Pose aka Savasana
6. Bedtime Story
Talk yourself through a Savasana: start from the bottom of your feet and tell yourself to relax your toes, the arches of your feet, your ankles, your shins, and calves, etc. making your way up along your body all the way to the crown of your head. Or find a Yoga Nidra online and listen to it before bed, or even in bed.
Whenever taking a yoga class, use the blocks, straps and/or bolsters. Yoga adjusts to you - not you to yoga. Use blocks to bring the ground closer to you, use straps to lengthen your arms for a bind and deepen your stretch, and use a bolster for deeper stretches.
Always connect to your breath, making your exhales longer than your inhales. Five minutes of intentional breathing can do wonders.
Barbara Meier-Conte is a former sales executive with Loews Hotels. She is a regular contributor to hertelier, an accomplished fitness instructor, and a soon-to-be yoga teacher.