Everyone has their favourites, if you've tried a home practice and attended a few different classes then you'd really know what works best for you. I have and I know I prefer a mix, I have my home days and I have my yoga class days. It changes up depending on my mood.
But you can't just pick when you wake up so I still go for weekly classes and practice at home during the week.
So, I get so many questions about how to start yoga and I usually say going for a class is the best option. It really is much better than trying to learn on your own - even though I did that. Still, not everyone's experience is the same as mine and each practice has their pros and cons.
Now I'm putting that into one easy post based on my own experience and opinions.
Home Yoga Practice
I believe when we're new to something, the first emotion that comes over us is anxiety. You are nervous about trying something new, afraid you'll be bad or embarrass yourself, not everyone is comfortable asking for help so with something like yoga, practicing at home seems like an obvious option.
Why I love doing yoga from home:
I don't think I can actually express how beneficial some yoga classes can be. It's a different experience to each person attending of course, but if you go in with an open mind and want to learn something, it could go amazingly.
Why I love attending classes:
I did not actually want to talk about any of this. But I have to say, since this “Social Media Isn’t Real Life” nonsense started, people at the other side of the wall are looking in through a tiny hole and assuming the one thing they see represents everything in the room.
I’ll admit that at the start, I was on her side. I felt for her and thought maybe she really was overwhelmed and used social media the wrong way so it ended up bringing her down. But now, after seeing everything, after watching her videos and the videos of some other people who were close to her about “social media”, I don’t believe it anymore.
Maybe it’s harsh but honestly at this point she seems like just another attention seeker who’s looking for any way to get more publicity. IF she was really quitting social media, you wouldn’t see or hear from her anymore. That’s my opinion anyway.
Now, over my whole social media experience on Instagram, I’ve had many lovely and loyal followers. People who are open, real, supportive and genuine. But since this blew up, I’ve been getting comments, messages on snapchat and DMs from people I’ve never even heard from before and they are being downright ridiculous and rude. I don't get how any of these people are comparing someone like me to someone like Essena, we do completely different things, have completely different ideas and have our accounts for completely different reasons. WAKE UP!
So writing this, I’m going to make certain things clear for my point of view.
Social media isn't real life.
By now I bet anyone on the internet would know this phrase. Over the last few weeks everyone's been talking about what's happened with Essena O'Neill quitting social media. We all have our personal decisions about what she's done and how she chose to react but I'm not going to really discuss that.
From what I know, and what I've read many other people on social media say, we know social media isn't real life. Hopefully the rest of the world knows that too, but let's be honest here. Social media isn't real life when it's made to look that way. If you were to look at my Instagram, for example, it's pretty much 90% real life. Why?
Because I share my workouts, my yoga flows, my workout clothes or whatever else I really choose to. When I share my workouts, when i do challenge and upload yoga photos, guess what, 90% of the time I just set up a camera and actually workout or do a flow then go through it and take the bits i want into 15 seconds or screenshot the photo I want from the video. At the start it was hard because I had no idea how to take a proper photo or where the camera should go but now I do.
That's why I know when I want a certain pose taken in a photo (if I remember actually) I look at the camera and smile or make it more "posey" cause that sure looks better than my workout/serious yoga face. Maybe I want to share what I wore and how real is a mirror selfie, it's literally the exact same photo I'll show my friends 5 minutes after I take it because I like the outfit I have on!
Other than this bit, I don't see how anyone really thinks of social media is that bad of a thing. Unless of course you don't know how to use it. It brings opportunities, introduces you to likeminded people, find amazing brands and helps you keep in touch with family and friends all over the world. So unless you really decided to misuse it or share too much personal information, how did you really end up thinking social media is the enemy?
I love social media, Truthfully, I stayed away from a lot of it for many years just because I wasn't interested. There was Facebook and Tumblr but a lot of that was reading what everyone else said or did. It was only when I started yoga and working out more seriously that I made my Instagram account and it went form there. There are no "personal" accounts or photos or videos except for maybe the 1 in 1000 I decide to upload. The closest you get to my "real life" outside of this, is snapchat. But hey, even then most of the time I talk about the same old stuff.
I've met some amazing people through social media and I wouldn't trade their friendship for the world. I don't think this is dangerous or evil or wrong in any way, mainly because most of the time, I know what I'm doing and I stick to what I know is right for myself.
You run your life, it's a game and you have the controller. No one says you HAVE to do anything. I choose what I do, what I post, what I wear and what I say. You can do exactly the same
I've said from the start of my practice that flexibility is the one thing I learn relatively fast. I'm not saying I went from being as tough as a tree to bending like rubber in a week, but I know my body adjusts well.
Back Bending and Hip Openers are my favourites when it comes to flexibility.
I've been asked to share progress for the splits and dancers pose, along with any tips I might have, which I am more than happy to! I'll also include at the end of the post, a few of my other asanas that I've progressed in. I truly wish I took more photos and videos at the start of my practice, but unfortunately I only took them for yoga challenges and the occasional "I like this asana" photo.
I was a huge fan of working out without a proper warm up, usually because part of my workout always started slower so it kind of built in, so when I started yoga I was just as lazy to warm up with anything.
Still, warm ups are the most important part. Don't try to go into a split as the first part of your yoga practice. Do lunges, stretches, a few simpler asanas. Let your body get ready and prepare itself for something deeper. Once I learned that, flexibility was so much more enjoyable with no pain and no stress. It doesn't matter if you need to warm up for 10 minutes or 30 minutes or even an hour, do what you need to and let it work.
Equipment (Straps, yoga wheels, blocks etc)
There is no shame in using straps, wheels, blocks or anything else you want. Grab a chair, some books, look up a how to video. IT WILL HELP.
Just because someone on Instagram is able to do the slits with her hips flat on the ground after 5 months of practice doesn't mean you should be able to in the same time frame, so if after 5 months you need blocks, get the blocks and be proud of it.
It might seem like a waste to buy it just for one or two asanas, but even when you have mastered the ones you're practicing now, all your equipment WILL come in handy later on, and sometimes we all take a step back and want to grab a strap or a block, I know I do,
Breathing through the stretches and flows is so important. It's easy to forget to breathe when we're trying something that's tough. Each inhale and exhale will help you through the stretch. It's almost part of the warm up routine and you might find with each breath the asana feel just a little bit more manageable.
Know Your Limits and Do NOT Force It
This means, if your best for a split is 5 inches off the ground, then that's your best right now. If the most you can bend your back in a wheel is with your hands and feet at a metre apart that's fine! Know what your limits are and accept them, work on improving them with time and practice, not going from 5 inches to 1 inch in a day.
Never bounce your way into a deeper split, Never ask someone to push your hips down or your leg further when you are not ready. It will come on your own time and as long as your have a consistent practice.
Forcing yourself into a position will just increase your risk of injury and set you back even longer - which we all know you do not want!
Learning yoga on your own, at home, is completely fine. But if you are able to afford the time and money, going to a class, or even booking a 1 on 1 session will help tremendously. A yoga teacher will be able to tell you things your mum or friend or sibling won't be able to - unless of course they're an expert too! In that case, lucky you!!
If you're picking a class, I highly suggest choosing a smaller class, it's easier for a teacher to step in and help you or for you to ask questions when there are 5 students in the studio than when there are 20. Please, don't be scared to ask for help in a class either, it can seem scary at first but it's worth asking if you're not sure how to do a posture or if you need assistance.
No amount of videos or books will be able to help you get what a teacher can help you spot and correct in 10 seconds. All it took was one class for my yoga teacher to tell me the reason why i always lost balance in Sugar Cane Pose was because even when it looked like my hips were squared in a video i recorded, they were not. (I record my practice and watch it back to check my form etc) and he helped me learn how to correct it and feel the difference between what I thought was right, and what actually was right.
I'm comparing the earliest photo i can find from my laptop or my instagram page, to the most recent photo I took of the same asana, which was taken today (4th November 2015) and the splits photo was taken on the 3rd of November 2015, so the range between each pair of photos is about 12-14 months of progress.
Wheel / Urdhva Dhanurasana
Dancer Pose/ Natarajasana
Camel Pose/ Ustrasana
Splits / Hanumanasana
Bow Pose / Dhanurasana
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