Welcome to another “Fitness Friday!” Each week I will be interviewing a new person about a new form of exercise. I’m talking to runners, crossfitters, bikers, zumba trainers, and more. Don’t think of this as a comprehensive guide to any one thing. Rather, this is an overview to get your excited about the possibilities and some information to get started.
Note: Please remember that fitness is personal. You should always check with your healthcare professional before starting a new exercise program, especially if you’ve been pretty sedentary before. The opinions expressed here are those of the people I interview… and they are just that: Opinions. Be smart with your health.
An Overview of Yoga
Today I’m happy to welcome Chelsea to talk about yoga. Chelsea is a real-food lover, runner, dancer, and yogi. I’m so happy she’s here to give some tips and advice for anyone who’s been interested in learning about the benefits of yoga. (And yes, all of today’s photos feature this amazing woman! Yoga for the win!)
Tell us a little about yourself:
Hi everyone! My name is Chelsea. I have a bachelors degree in exercise science and a yoga teaching certificate through Yoga Alliance. I started blogging just before I graduated college as a means of accountability while I was training for my first half marathon and preparing to get yoga certified. The blog was (and still is) a way for me to document my experiences and thoughts about all things fitness and wellness. (You can find Chelsea’s blog here.)
As a dancer for many years yoga had been incorporated into much of the conditioning and training I received but I had never before taken a full yoga class. I actually thought I hated yoga until 4 years ago just after I married my husband Eric and wasn’t dancing as much. We joined a new gym and I had heard good things about the yoga classes there. I was missing dance and aching to move my body like that again. The first class I attended was was an “Vinyasa Flow” class. I didn’t have an idea what that meant but it was at a convenient time for me so went. I loved everything about the class. I learned from that first class that there was a lot more to yoga than just a strength & flexibility workout and I was ready to make some new discoveries. I began practicing consistently. In 2011 I completely immersed myself into yoga and received my teaching certificate.
Tell us a little bit about yoga.
The word yoga comes from the sanskrit word ‘yuk’ which also means ‘to yoke’. In the practice of yoga the end goal is to yoke or unite mind, body and spirit together. There are many different forms of yoga but all have this same goal. All forms of yoga involve breathing techniques which are crucial to the practice and help to move you though the various postures and meditations. The form of yoga I practice and teach is traditionally called Ashtanga yoga but variations of the traditional practice have come to be known as “Power yoga” or “vinyasa yoga.” This form of yoga is very popular in the US and involves sun salutations and intense breathing to move you through the non-stop practice.
What are the benefits of yoga.
There are so many benefits to practicing yoga. The obvious ones include increased flexibility and strength but did you know yoga has been known to help:
- Sleep apnea
- Weight loss
- Reduce high blood pressure
- Cleanse the lymphatic system and so much more!
What would you caution anyone about yoga before starting it for the first time?
Leave your ego out the door before entering every practice. Don’t compare yourself to others because everyone is on a different journey and there is no way to fully practice yoga with your ego in the way. Also, the presence of ego can often lead to injury. Enjoy where you are and take appropriate modifications as needed.
Is there any reason someone should NOT begin this type of exercise program?
Yoga is for everyone. Certain parts of the practice should be avoided by people with high blood pressure and women who are pregnant. However, everyone should consult a doctor before trying a new form of exercise.
What tips would you give beginners?
Pattabhi Jois, the father of Ashtanga yoga said “Practice and all is coming.” Be patient with your practice. Like many other exercises you may love it some days and hate it other days but I promise you the more consistent you are in your practice the more you will love it. Be open to challenging your body and mind and set goals to help you progress and move forward in your practice.
What sort of gear or products does someone need to start?
The only necessary thing needed to practice yoga is a mat. Most yoga studios and gyms offer mats that you can borrow but if you’re going to be practicing often and at home it is worth it to invest in your own. There are so many different mats available out there. You can find some brands I like using here and here. Most beginners prefer a 1/4 inch thick mat rather than a thinner 1/8 inch thick mat. Many beginners find their hands slipping on the mat, especially in downward dog. The good thing is, the more you practice the less you will slip on your mat because your form will improve but until then if you have trouble slipping look for a “sticky mat” or “slip resistant mat” (like this). You can also purchase grippy gloves (like this) to help with slipping issues. Of course you also need to make sure you’re wearing appropriate clothing. Anything that will help you to feel comfortable and can stretch well will allow you to focus on the practice.
What is your cost per month to keep at it?
I have an unlimited pass to a local yoga studio. I got a membership for $42 a month which is an incredible deal. Depending on where you live the cost of an unlimited membership to a professional yoga studio could range from $40 – 120 dollars a month. Many gyms offer yoga classes. Depending on what your goals are for your practice you could just get a gym pass. However, my current gym does not have the ideal class times for me and I also enjoy the studio environment better for practicing yoga so I chose to get a separate studio pass.
Are there any resources that you would recommend to help those who are interested in starting?
If you live in Utah my favorite yoga studio is 3b Yoga in Provo. If you are wanting to learn more about yoga right now you can go to one of my favorite websites yogajournal.com. There you can learn all about yoga, find yoga classes and retreats, as well as how to live a yogic lifestyle. The books Yoga Mala and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali changed my whole view of yoga and helped to broaden and shape my practice to what it is today.
Any final remarks on why you love yoga.
After a workout you feel that high of endorphins. With yoga I’ve experienced something better. I leave every practice feeling energized mentally and physically. I look around me and can find gratitude in everything and my love and understanding for everyone around me increases. I call it yoga drugs, and it’s something you’ve got to experience.
Thank you so much, Chelsea! Any yoga lovers out there? What would you add?