It's nearly the end of January 2016! And this means that we are fast approaching the time where MANY people give up (if they haven't already) on their fitness resolutions.
I hope that none of you have given up, and if you have, this is just a reminder to get back up and keep going! Reevaluate, consider what happened, and decide if you can change anything to make sure you stick to your fitness plans!
With that said, I'm so excited to share with you guys that In The Loop Singapore asked me to be a guest blogger on their website and share a simple workout that you anyone do in bed!
The idea behind it was all about fitness related new years resolutions and making a fitness routine which was simple enough so that you could do it literally anywhere and even do it on your laziest days!
What I came up with is a low intensity, full body routine with some of my favourite exercises! Modifications are also included if needed!
The post can be viewed here
"Yoga is not just doing an asana"
Since my first class in July 2015, my yoga teacher has repeated that phrase above more times than I could count. He has made it clear that yoga is not something you can do with no thought. It's not just about learning fancy looking asanas or striking a pose. As easy as some asanas can seem, there is so much that still goes into proper form for Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward dog), Uttanasana (Standing forward fold) and even Savasana (Corpse Pose).
Learning and maintaining proper form is essential to any yoga practice to build a strong foundation and to avoid any injuries. I, unfortunately, had to learn this the hard way.
Even though I started with a home practice by using youtube and e-books which taught flows and websites like Yoga Journal which taught proper alignment, it just wasn't the same as being able to go for a class and being corrected by a teacher who can really see what might be going wrong.
This is exactly why, if you can afford it, I would recommend signing up for a small yoga class or even 1 on 1 sessions when you first begin. It can be scary to walk into a small class as compared to practicing at home or hiding among a class of 20 people, but it will be worth it.
Choosing the right class is so important for learning as well. Signing up for a flow class will be fun, but if these classes are crowded and the teacher can't stop to correct you when you don't know how to do each asana with the right form, it could do more harm for you than good.
When I attended classes, I felt a little weird that we were using so many props; ropes, blocks, pillows and towels and straps. (I mean look at that photo above, all that for one downward dog?!) I didn't see why we needed it all. But eventually I did. I felt and I saw the difference all this help was making into my form and my practice.
It might not seem like too much, but my old downward dog (left) compared to my new downward dog (right) were actually lightyears apart.
Some differences I learned:
So these were just some of the things I learned about Downward Facing Dog since starting yoga classes. I am by no means "perfect" but I love knowing I'm learning and improving.
Now imagine everything else you could learn when you go for the right classes, one where you can get more help from the teacher. Though sometimes, even when you're in a class of 4-5 people, it can be easy for a teacher to miss that your foot is placed the wrong direction or your back in hunched. There is no shame in asking for help. More often than not, it will take less than 30 seconds to go over it and you would have learned how to do an asana. Once you know what's right, it's hard to do it the wrong way again.
I may have practiced yoga for the first 10 months all on my own, but the difference shows once you have guidance. As I said earlier, a lot goes into each asana and you will only feel nervous or embarrassed the first few times you're in a class. After that, you get over it. Yoga is an ongoing practice so we might as well make the most of it so we get better with time.
Just as a bonus, here's another "easy" asana I learned how to perform correctly though my classes.
I used to hate Uttanasana because I always felt strained and would lose balance. How my hips stack over my ankles, my body is straight and long, joints not hyperextended and the stretch feel absolutely beautiful.
This post has been requested many times over the last 4 months. I'm sorry it took me so long but honestly I was reluctant to write it. The truth is, as much as I don't mind doing things for myself and sharing my workouts, yoga flows and poses, it's different having to write out certain things in more detail.
I won't say I know a secret to making exercise easy, I don't know how to make you progress much faster or how to get you from running a KM in 10 minutes to 6 minutes in a limited amount of time. After all, I'm not a miracle worker. I'm just another girl who loves what she does.
But if so many of you want to know a few tips I can share to make working out easier or more manageable, isn't it good to share?
Know Your Limits
Whether you're starting out or you've been at this for a while it's so important to remember that you have limits for a reason and that working towards new goals slowly is always a better than jumping right into something that might be too much for your body to take.
If you've never used weights before, don't run at the chance to pick up a 20KG dumbbell just because everyone else at the gym is. If you've previously had a sedentary life, don't just push yourself into a 5KM run from 0 on your first run.
Listen To Your Body
Regardless of what you do, you need to listen to what your body is saying. When I first started, I was very determined to get my 5KM done a day. It was good determination but there were definitely times where I ignored what my body was trying to tell me and I paid for it later.
I'm all for working through some feelings, but if you feels faint, sick or any pain, it's time to stop. Sometimes you need a snack, water, just a minute or two before you continue but it's worth figuring out what your body needs than pushing yourself until you end up passing out, throwing up or injuring yourself.
Remember Your Form
I am a huge fan of taking it slow so you get your form right for each and every rep than to rush through it just because you want to do as many reps in 20 seconds. There is no shame is slowing down your workout so you do everything properly and avoid injury. Over time, it will get easier and proper form will be more natural, then you can speed things up again.
If You Need It, take A Break - and continue later
This is something that sort of works in line with point 2 (Listen to your body). There are many people who say they were just too tired to finish the last round of their workout, their last KM, the last few minutes of HIIT etc, it happens to all of us at one point. I used to just give up. But now, just take a break. You might feel like you have nothing left, but after a minute or two you might realise you still have enough in you to finish the workout - and you will! So as long as you don't feel sick or faint, take a break then keep going!
I'm sure all of you know how important it is to stay hydrated during the day and it is just as important as staying hydrated during your workout as well. If you're sweating a lot as well you need to replenish all that water and it's easy to forget when you're done working out - i would know, I always used to forget!
If it just doesn't feel necessary to you, know that keeping hydrated during your workout can help prevent fatigue and help you keep going for longer - something I've personally experienced as well! So make sure you keep a water bottle around and have a few sips between sets, it helps with the recovery process as well!
Some people believe finishing a workout means rewarding themselves with a candy bar, other want to lose as much weight as possible so they skip any snacks post workout, even if they need it. Both aren't exactly the best thing to do, and it's better to know how and what to refuel with after a workout to help the recovery process.
Candy bars and chocolate, not such a great idea as a post-workout snack. And forcing yourself not to eat even if your body needs it, isn't a good idea at all.
Grab a healthy snack or have a meal after and you should be good to go. But as always, figure out what works best for your body.
I once made the terrible mistake of not giving myself rest days, and I definitely paid for it.
When you start out it's normal to be clueless but don't let that hurt you. Having at least one rest day a week will help you do better ad give your body enough time to recover from your workouts.
More importantly, when you hurt yourself or fall sick, rest is the best thing to do. Pushing yourself to workout will only result in getting worse.
Foam rolling after a workout, giving yourself rest days, stretching, knowing when to take days off from being sick or injured it's all part of the process.
You Cannot Out-Exercise A Bad Diet
I believe that even if you don't eat well, it's good to exercise to take care of yourself.
But if you are expecting a real change like significant weight loss, there is no amount of exercise that can do for you what changing your diet can. Of course, these two go hand in hand, but not many want to give in to healthier food habits. At the end of the day, eating healthy does wonders for everyone so decide what you really want and if you're ready to go on this journey, you can even do it slowly. Figure out what you can swap out, soda for water, coffee for tea, chips for fruits etc. Order healthier meals, start cooking at home if you can. It all leads up to having better health.
And really, who said eating healthy was boring? I've had so many yummy, healthy meals and treats and it's always amazing!
Another year of my life has gone by. The year doesn't always turn out the way you want and even if things seem like they went all bad, there are always things to learn from it.
After everything I've gone through, done and learned from, I know what changes I need to make for myself. Every single one of us works differently and I think what's even more important than figuring our resolution or goals is writing down the lessons we've learned from the past year and to reflect on them.
My lessons from 2015:
1. Waiting for Monday, next week, next month and especially next year is too far away. The best thing is to drink a whole lot of water and start now.
2. There is no "goal weight" for me to reach. Getting stronger, healthier and better at what I do is a lot more satisfying than reaching a number on a scale.
3. Activewear motivates me, and that is OKAY.
4. The only drink I need is water (and sometimes tea!)
5. If something I eat doesn't make me feel good, I stop eating it. That's listening to my body and doing what's best for myself.
6. Taking photos of myself or recording my yoga practice/workout helps me improve.
7. My body reflects the kind of diet I have and the workouts I do and it's completely fine that I don't look like other girls on Instagram. My hidden abs and tiny arms are still strong!
8. Less calories does not automatically mean a healthier option.
9. A longer workout does not automatically mean a better workout.
10. Mixing up my workouts and where I go for yoga keeps me from losing motivation.
11. I can be acne and pimple free for 21 years but when the haze hits, just stay home until it's gone for good.
12. Being healthy means a healthy body and a healthy mind. Forcing myself to restrict things when I don't really want to doesn't fall into either category.
13. Saying no to sugary drinks is extremely easy because I knew I didn't want all that sugar in my body. So finding a real reason to do something/not do something makes it 1000 times easier than making up fake reasons.
14. Not everyone will agree with what I do. And I'll just have to deal with that.
15. There will always be rude commenters and annoying people on my social media, that's life.
It's scary to think that a year ago I was in the very beginning stages of my yoga practice and I was just switching to a new workout plan - I was pretty much still clueless at everything fitness related. And in a year I've grown so much.
Considering how important my health has become, most of my lessons are related to this topic. After thinking through my 15 (and some others I have as well) I can only hope I'll learn how to better myself.
There's so much left for me to learn, there probably always will be, but the last year has been amazing for me in terms of my fit life.
So here's to hoping every year that follows will be better than the last.
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