This will be my last blog post and I’m sad to say that my work here has come to an end. It’s been 10 wonderful weeks which have gone by so fast! I hope you enjoyed the blog posts and maybe even learned new things and/or got inspired to try out some of the tips.
However, I will not leave you yogis without one last informative blog post.
This last blog will be about how I have come to understand this ancient, yet so lovely practice, called yoga. From a newbie to a yogi!
My understanding of yoga is that it’s a process. It’s active. It’s the way you engage with the world to create harmony. Yoga is how we participate and create relationships.
When we engage, we change how the situation unfolds. Instead of things simply happening to us, we become an active participant. We exercise our agency, the ability to act. Yoga is the process we can engage in to understand our body, the way it moves and the way we use it. We can engage with our mind and understand it, where it habitually goes and how to focus it. And we can work with our emotions and notice how we tend to react.
Yoga is something we do, to connect and engage with the world and it takes our entire mind/body attention. It’s is a lifestyle.
Yoga is love. Love for oneself and love for others.
I wish to extend a big thank you to the Yoga Roots crew. And a special thanks to Bethany! Thank you for all your support, guidance, patience and kindness. I had a blast and enjoyed every single part of my internship.
Thank you for all your love and support! Happy weekend and Namaste yogis. Love, Shirin.
The practice of yoga is intriguing to people all across the world, but most don’t know how to go about starting a yoga practice. Many may abandon the idea of starting a practice, simply because they don’t know what to expect. The beauty of yoga is that you don’t have to be a yogi to reap the benefits. Whether you are young or old, overweight or fit, yoga has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body.
However, it can be challenging and a bit scary to be beginner yogis. To help you feel a little more comfortable before you say your first “om” or “namaste”, here are 10 tips to help make the experience “love at first breath.”
1. Begin where you are
We start from where we are – right now. There’s no where else to begin! No matter your level of fitness, or experience with yoga or similar practices – you can find a class that feels right for you. Ideally, start in a class specifically designed for beginners—where you’ll learn foundation poses, alignment, and breathing fundamentals.
At Yoga Roots, all of our classes are open for all-levels. Meaning, you can join any class that suits your schedule, and during class listen to your body and your own pace of practice (see tip no. 9 below). If you are still hesitant to jump into a class, we have courses just for beginners about once a quarter.
If you’d like a tip in the right direction for a beginner friendly weekday class, a vinyasa or yin yoga class is a good place to start. You can also join any of the aerial yoga classes as a brand new beginner too! The teachers will adapt the class to be accessible for anyone. In these classes you have the opportunity to explore the postures and fundamental principles of yoga.
2. Arrive early
When you are going to a new studio for the first time, give yourself about 15 minutes before the class starts. This will give you time to get settled, locate the changing room and bathroom, acclimate to the energy of the space and also meet your teacher. You can ask them questions or express any hesitations you may have as a new student. This is also the perfect time to let the teacher know of any injuries you may have, so that they can properly cue you to avoid any further strain.
3. Take your time
Yoga is not a race—your yoga practice is YOUR time to slow down, breathe, move into your body, and connect.
It’s ironic, really. We spend all day rushing around from place to place, moving through tasks at what feels like a whirlwind pace, only to get in the car (or on your bike or on the train) and zoom to yoga class. Then we change our clothes, roll out our mat, and move right into our practice. Phew! This is where we need to practice that mindfulness thing, right? Take a few deep breaths, don’t worry so much about keeping up with the rest of the class. Let yourself flow into your practice at your own pace, and most importantly, enjoy it!
4. Don’t force yourself into a pose
I know, it’s so easy to look around the studio and see someone else in a totally fabulous Eagle pose or sitting serenely in a Lotus pose with both feet tucked up nicely. You start to think, my body should be able to do that! And then you try to force your poor arms and legs into a pose that they’re just not ready for.
Working your way into some of those advanced poses takes months or years or practice. Remember what I said before about taking your time? Take your time yogis. Enjoy your practice. Let yourself feel good in every pose, no matter where you are. Forcing yourself into a pose is a prescription for injury.
5. Don’t be afraid to use props
Avoiding injury is paramount for beginner yogis. An injury can set you back weeks, months, or make you give up yoga altogether. Using yoga props is one of the best ways to avoid injury and learn the poses of yoga. Yoga props like blocks, straps, blankets, and hammocks give our bodies much-needed support as we’re building strength and developing flexibility.
6. Wear comfortable clothes
Wear something stretchy and comfortable. For women, leggings, a sports bra, and a t-shirt is a great option for many. For men, athletic pants, leggings or lined shorts, paired with a breathable t-shirt are perfect options to stay comfortable in class. Make sure your clothes allow for free movement. Also, you’ll likely remove your socks and shoes for the practice. Bare feet help you connect to the ground and balance and help prevent slipping. In colder weather don’t forget warm socks and a sweater for shavasana!
7. Look into online classes
If starting your practice at the studio is a bit too intimidating, online classes are a great option. Online streaming platforms have grown immensely over the past few years. So you’ll have a wealth of options to choose from. Why not check out the free online classes that Yoga Roots offer! Or get unlimited access to their digital platform of over 50 classes for just 295 sek.
8. Set an intention
One of the most challenging aspects for beginner yogis is quieting the mind and focusing on the present moment. It is easy for our minds to wander and to be only practicing in a physical sense, rather than connecting the mind and body to the practice.
To help center in on your practice, come to your mat with an intention in mind. Often the teacher will share an intention they have for the class—you can choose to follow this if it speaks to you, or to use your own. Intentions are personal and can be just about anything that works for you. For example, you may decide to focus on breathing deeply throughout the class, or to practice not judging yourself or others. Offering gratitude for the opportunity to use yoga to care for your body is another way to ground your practice. Whatever your intention, call it to mind anytime you need some inspiration or could simply use a reminder of your reason for coming to yoga class.
9. Listen to your body
Let the teacher be your guide, but only you know what your body truly needs. If a pose has become too tiring for you, take a moment to rest in Child’s Pose. If you move into a pose and it doesn’t feel right, move out of it and ask the teacher to offer you an alternative. Remember that most yoga poses have different versions. In the meantime, just remember that yoga shouldn’t hurt. If something makes you feel a sharp pain, don’t do it.
Listen to your body, calm down your ambition and stay in the first variation if that’s where your breath is steady. Do whatever is necessary to take care of your body and listen to any signals it’s giving you throughout the practice.
10. Be patient
It is easy to get frustrated and feel like your practice isn’t progressing as quickly as it should be. Many beginner yogis want to immediately jump into fun and challenging poses. However, it takes time and dedication to build up the strength and balance to perform more advanced postures. Trust that you are exactly where you need to be in your process of learning yoga. Be patient with yourself as you explore new poses and build up both your physical and mental strength. Over time, you’ll begin to see just how much your yoga practice has grown and evolved. You just need to put in the time to get there.
Remember that every beginner yogis have their challenges. If something doesn’t work out, try it later. And while yoga can be intimidating at first, you should be having fun while exploring and learning about the practice.
Make sure to manage your motivation smartly, and don’t listen to anybody but your inner voice. Yoga is a very rewarding and worthwhile practice. It surely is worth your time and effort. And if you want some more tips, check out this page.
Hey yogis! Welcome back for another week of fun reading! So far we have explored the many wonderful benefits of yoga, some of the most important aspects of yoga, and also how to properly fuel the body to get the most out of your practice. This week I thought it could be interesting to touch upon prenatal yoga.
Well, first off CONGRATULATIONS! If you’re reading this it’s probably because you recently peed on a stick and your life changed. I’m guessing, you had a moment (or twelve) of sheer panic and you also felt – excited, scared, happy, and overwhelmed – all at the same time. After this, you started to manically google what you can and can’t do now that you have a baby on the way. Then you googled “exercise when pregnant” and got thoroughly confused by the jungle of do’s and don’ts on various internet sites.
There’s a very long list of technical do’s and don’ts for practising yoga when you are pregnant. But one thing is for certain, yoga is a safe and effective exercise for pregnant women. It can even provide relief during pregnancy and help prepare your body for labor and delivery.
Why is prenatal yoga important during pregnancy?
Prenatal yoga is uniquely designed for pregnant women. It’s intended to help you prepare for childbirth by relaxing the body and focusing on safe techniques and poses in all stages of pregnancy. While the breath and gentle movements give you the opportunity to feel and connect to your body, the poses are meant to help build strength and stamina, improve circulation, regulate breathing and open energy channels. All skills you will need in X months when your bun is cooked and ready to enter the world.
While all this sounds great, it’s useful to understand how you can practice yoga in a safe way and what you will get out of it. Here are some helpful tips and your prenatal yoga do’s:
Use props – As your body is changing, you’ll notice that certain poses won’t feel as comfortable or attainable as they did before. Use props to adapt your practice as necessary.
Take your time – You don’t have to rush through vinyasas, Sun Salutations, or any other transitions. Follow the pace at which your body is ready to go. Take any breaks you need, and don’t hesitate to step outside if you don’t feel well.
Modify poses when needed – Even if you’re not using props, adopt modifications whenever you need it. With every single day, your body will be slightly different. As a result, your practice will need to evolve, as well.
Be careful with inversions – If you practiced them before, you should be fine to practice inversions during pregnancy. You may however want to practice with a wall behind you. Stop if you aren’t feeling well or safe.
Take deep breaths – While opinions on this differ, it’s best not to run out of breath when practicing yoga or any other exercise during pregnancy. Instead, make sure you take long deep breaths. It will be safer for the baby and prevent exhaustion. Deep breathing is also vital in delivery. It will help you manage pain better and keep your stress levels in check. So, use your yoga practice as preparation for that.
Do what feels right – Pregnancy is not the time for hardcore practice and pushing towards new goals. Instead, take the time to really pay attention to your body. Always listen to your body and only do what feels good. If you are nauseous or dizzy or don’t feel comfortable or safe, skip the pose. Feel free to rest in child’s pose or take a break whenever you need it.
Now that we’ve looked at the pregnancy yoga do’s, let’s check out the don’ts.
Deep twists – Deep twists can put pressure on the growing belly and restrict blood flow to the uterus. Instead, try open twists, they can relieve tension in the back and upper body.
Deep back bending – Some backbends can make you feel uncomfortable and overextend your abdominals, and increase the risk of diastasis recti. Instead, try poses like supported bridge pose. Upward dog should also be fine as long as you don’t feel too much pressure on your belly or lower back.
Laying on your belly – Baby needs space to grow big and strong. Instead of doing back bending on your belly in classes, try standing on your knees and doing camel pose, for example, as a similar stretch.
Laying on your back for extended periods of time – Generally, lying flat on the back is not for pregnant women after 18 weeks. As your belly gets bigger, avoid laying on your back for savasana, or for any other poses that have you on your back for more than a few breaths. Instead, try sitting up in meditation or laying on your left side with props.
Intense ab work – Avoid any yoga poses that involve crunching or cause your belly to pop out into a triangle. This puts too much strain on the connective tissues and can result in diastasis recti. A good rule of thumb are no crunches or planks during pregnancy.
Your journey through pregnancy is an exciting one! Use your yoga practice to enhance the feelings and emotions you are having and to make your body more comfortable and prepared for labor, delivery and motherhood. Have fun experimenting with what works for you and for your baby.
Most importantly – stay safe, enjoy yoga and your pregnancy!
To eat or not to eat before and after yoga, that is the question. One thing that many yogis have in common, whether they’re a newbie, a seasoned vet, or anywhere in between, they wonder, “Should I eat food before yoga?”
The short answer is, absolutely, but the types of food you eat and when you eat them are key. After all, many of us have experienced that awkward, audible moment during down-ward facing dog. So, listen up yogis everywhere, here’s what you need to know! You want to fuel your body both before and after class. While the yoga room is great for loosening up muscles, all that activity can take a toll on your body’s hydration and electrolyte balance. So, before you step on your mat, prepare to properly prime your tank before and after your yoga class.
Though, the ideal is to practice yoga early in the morning on an empty stomach, considering today’s hectic lifestyle, people have to squeeze in their yoga practice whenever they find the time. Eating the right food and when to eat before and after yoga is key to feeling our best.
What to eat before?
A healthy and balanced diet is preferable to get the best out of your yoga practice. In general, you want to eat each of the three macronutrients – protein, fat and carbohydrate. With that being said, try not to eat any heavy or large meals, and as a general rule, stop eating two hours before class.
If your yoga practice is 1 – 2 hours after waking up it’s advisable to have easy to digest food like fresh fruits (bananas are a great source of potassium), or juice at least 45 minutes before the class. However, if you’re attending a later yoga class try eating a light meal or a small snack at least 1 hour before. This gives your digestive tract enough time to do some work to get the food out of your tummy. It’s also important to stay well hydrated before your practice, but don’t overdo it. Instead, try to take small sips throughout the hours before your class.
Here are some good options:
Apple slices dipped in peanut butter, or a banana
Healthy granola bars and energy bites
A handful of almonds and fresh fruit, like blueberries
Smoothies or protein shakes
A hard-boiled egg and some carrot sticks
Toast with avocado
As you become more acclimated to how your body responds to your eating schedule during yoga, you can modify your routine. For example, if you’re pregnant, or prone to get dizzy when practicing aerial yoga, be sure to eat a snack about 30 minutes before class. Do what feels best for your body so that you feel light and comfortable throughout the duration of class!
What to eat after?
Now let’s talk about what you can eat after a yoga class. The first thing you want to do after a yoga session is to drink water – keep yourself hydrated! After the class it’s time to refuel with a meal or snack that has a 3-to-1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, which can help repair muscle tissues and restore energy levels. Preferably wait 30 minutes after your practice before eating so that your body can re-acclimate itself and won’t risk going into food coma
Here are some other great options to eat after your yoga practice:
Turkey wrapped around cream cheese and asparagus spears
Chicken breast with some avocado and sweet potatoes
Greek yoghurt with fruits, nuts, and granola
Quinoa bowl with veggies, tofu, or legumes
Smoothie with frozen berries, banana and greek yoghurt
These are just suggestions. Remember the most important thing here is to experiment and listen to your body. You know your body best and can determine what works for you. One thing is for certain, you must come to yoga prepared, rested, nourished and in the right frame of mind. Yoga is an extremely rewarding practice but at the same time can be challenging.
Finally, after a day of yoga and healthy eating, a little dark chocolate is in order. Dark chocolate is loaded with potassium and some vitamin E, both of which are antioxidant.
Okay yogis, now you know what to eat before and after and also when to eat, so get in there and nama-slay!
Hello yogis! I hope you’ve been able to incorporate the three aspects from last week’s blog – breathing, focus and alignment – in your yoga practice and in your everyday life. For this week we are diving into learning about the benefits of inversions. If you’ve been considering joining an upcoming headstand or handstand workshop, read on to learn more about inversions!
Let’s start with defining inversion. What does it even mean? In yoga, inversion refers to poses in which the yogi’s heart is at a higher level than the head. Thus “inverting” your body from its normal upright position. However, not all inversion poses require that one is completely upside down. There are milder poses that you can practice to overcome the fear associated with going upside down, like shoulder stand, child’s pose and down-ward facing dog pose.
Now that we have established what inversion is we can explore the benefits of it! Have you ever heard of the expression “turn that frown upside down”? Well, what it basically means is to be happy instead of sad.When doing an inversion pose your blood circulation and your lymphatic drainage improves which helps deliver oxygen and nutrients throughout your body and release a rush of endorphins. This in turn helps the brain to regulate mood swings and reduce anxiety or depression – it’s a natural mood booster! But the benefits don’t stop there!
Enhances muscular strength
Yoga inversions target specific muscle groups and help to build strength to hold the body in a stretched position which increases muscular strength, flexibility and endurance. And in time improves better limb flexibility and range of motion.
When practicing inversions we may face different challenges, such as fear of falling, and we are often forced to tune inwards and become very focused on the pose. But as you begin to feel more comfortable in the pose you will also begin to find a strong sense of calmness. Your overall focus and concentration increases as this pose helps the central nervous system to relax and balances out our fight or flight response and forces you to tune inwards.
Boosts immune system
The entire lymphatic system plays a huge part in our physical health. As lymph moves through your body it picks up toxins and waste that your body needs to get rid of and helps maintain fluid balance. When we turn upside down we stimulate our lymphatic system, increasing the flow of white blood cells and lymph throughout the body and strengthening the immune system. And it also may reduce pain and swelling in the lower limbs.
Increases confidence and patience
Practicing inversions are often something we consider as pretty difficult or advanced. It takes time and practice to perform them properly, but once you’ve mastered the art of getting upside down you will feel more confident and proud. All of your hard work paid off! The confidence, patience and strength that you slowly build will translate into all aspects of your daily life. And you will embrace new challenges and obstacles with a “I can do it” attitude.
Yoga does not always have to be serious. Your practice is a wonderful time to invite fun into your yoga mat and life. Getting upside down encourages a sense of childish playfulness in your practice! So smile and open your heart to having fun on your mat!
Inversions can bring with them many benefits and are such a fun part of yoga practice. However, it’s always important to honor and listen to your body. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel good or is painful. It’s also important to keep in mind that inversion yoga involves advanced moves. If you’re not sure or feel uncomfortable doing it by yourself, perform them under the supervision of an expert to avoid any injuries. If you’re interested in trying out, or just want to improve your inversions, Yoga Roots have a few great inversion workshops in November that you can attend!
Be safe, have fun and treat your body well dear yogis! Until next time.