In this series we will dig into various aspects of how technology, fitness and zen intersect.
As a yoga teacher that has been practicing for about 10 years and teaching for 9+ years one of the things I hear most from people who are contemplating starting a yoga practice is, are you ready for this? “I can’t practice yoga because I’m not flexible.”
One thing I love about yoga is that it is movement that is all-inclusive. If you are breathing, you can practice yoga. I remember going to a 5am hot yoga class when I lived in Las Vegas and moving and taking the class for 15 minutes and then resting in savasana (corpse pose which is lying flat on the ground) for the remaining 60 minutes of class. And you know what? I did not apologize as it is yoga that is helpful in determining what my body needs.
Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines which originate in India. There are many styles of yoga and here are the most common styles here in the US:
- Hatha Yoga provides a foundational start to developing a yoga practice.
- Kundalini Yoga focuses on cultivating spiritual growth.
- Ashtanga Yoga is a practice that is more structured and challenging, both physically and mentally.
- Hot Yoga is the sweatiest and is often considered the most intense of the styles.
What do you need for your yoga practice? Most people begin with a basic yoga mat. There are styles dedicated to hot yoga practices so if that is something you’d like to consider, find a moisture wicking mat and yoga towel, if necessary. I love having cork blocks to help certain poses become more available to me or to my students. Finally, a strap or necktie works again to assist with modifications and to allow yoga to continue to be an accessible practice.
How to find a studio and a subsequent practice? Do a Google search of yoga studios and/or fitness studios around you. Walk into the space and determine whether or not you enjoy the vibe. Do you feel appreciated? Does it feel safe and welcoming? I’ve had a great deal of success purchasing Groupons or LivingSocials and checking out a new studio that way. Enjoy experiencing various styles of yoga taught by different teachers so that you can check in with your inner voice or intuition to determine what fits your life and will enhance it. And be ok with getting it wrong. That is part of life. And know that you can practice yoga. It is available to you. Here’s an article which includes three poses that will build up your confidence and get you on a path to building your very own yoga practice.
And the practice will grow you and stretch you, no pun intended, if you roll out your mat, keep an open mind and go with the flow.
After your flow, it may become evident that you need a little bit more which is why foam rolling or myofascial release is so important and incredibly helpful in terms of releasing muscle tightness and engaging with trigger points. According to Coach Jeff Kuhland, “By applying pressure to specific points on your body you are able to aid in the recovery of muscles and assist in returning them to normal function. Normal function means your muscles are elastic, healthy, and ready to perform at a moment’s notice.”
A great yoga teacher, Tiffany Cruikshank, founder of Yoga Medicine does trainings on myofascial release and Krystyn Strother wrote a piece that’s on the Yoga Medicine about why fascia matters. It’s important to go backwards to go forwards when discussing myofascial release. In the article, she reports that, “fascia is that it weaves its way into the body and forms the architecture for the soft tissue deep inside. Fascia connects muscles to bone and bones to bones by way of tendons and ligaments, respectively. It helps hold your organs in place and even helps support the bones of the spine via your spinal discs.”
So what to do with this information? And what do you need for myofascial release? You can use foam rollers, balls or sticks.
- Trigger point foam rollers help to roll out tight IT bands and hamstrings and come in various sizes.
- Even using a tennis ball can be helpful in engaging with trigger points.
- Basic round foam rollers are versatile and can deliver a massaging effect.
- A travel stick can deliver light massage and fits in both carry-on or checked luggage.
Incorporating both yoga and myofascial release can help you move better, on and off your mat.