My Daily Yoga – What’s Working For Me

I’ve been doing yoga every day for almost 2 years now. People often seemed shocked when I tell them, as if doing yoga every day is any different from going to the gym or brushing your teeth. Well, it kind of is… I’ve never felt as good after brushing my teeth as I do after yoga! (Plus, I can drink orange juice right away if I wanted to.)

If you’ve been thinking about starting a daily yoga practice, but feel it might be too hard, think again. You can do this! If I can do it, so can you. Here’s what I do, maybe it will help you.

Same Time Every Day

This may not be possible for everyone, but if it is, I strongly recommend doing your yoga practice at the same time every day. People, like dogs and many other mammals, are creatures of habit. Whether you’d like to admit it or not, our bodies like repetition, and it’s much easier to start a new routine if you, well, make it an actual routine.

Think about it. You might wake up, make a cup of copy, read the paper, get ready for work, and do the same things in a particular order, and your yoga practice shouldn’t be any different. I prefer to do yoga first thing in the morning. Before anything else, I get my mind right and my body warmed up. It really helps me with my mindset for the rest of the day ahead.

I used to do it right before bed, and that was fine too! Whatever you decide to do is fine, as long as you keep it consistent!

Daily Mantra

Some people look in the mirror and say “I’m awesome” every morning or they’ll do some other ritual to hype themselves up. I would definitely fall into this category of people. Mantras are an integral part of yoga that can help you outside of the 30 minute or hour session on the yoga mat.

To get started building a habit, you could try something like “my yoga practice is important to me.” You don’t have to do this once you’ve been at it for a while and you’re sure you won’t slack off or skip your daily exercise. It could be helpful though for those people who might need a little motivation.

Telling yourself that your practice is important will make you believe it and think harder before deciding to blow it off.

Be Positive

This one can be a lot tougher than it sounds, especially if you’re not having a good day to begin with. Just remember that yoga is supposed to help you ground yourself, stretch out your body, and calm your mind. It may not be what you want to do in the present moment, but telling yourself it’s going to help you is the best thing you can do. The best part is that it will help!

Whenever I’m really frustrated or down, I try to do a little yoga. The movement in your body and various stretches and postures all release endorphins that will help you feel a bit better. Science!

Finding a Yoga Mat That Fits Your Needs

Everybody is different, and it’s silly to think that just because your friend does yoga, their mat is the one that you should get. Or even worse, you just get the cheapest yoga mat you can find, hoping that it will work out. This logic just doesn’t make sense to me.

You need to find a mat that you connect with. For example, I’m over 6-foot tall and have a really bony body. It hurts when I’m on my knees, and even sitting on hard surfaces can be uncomfortable. I needed a mat that was extra thick and extra large. I’ve tried a few other popular standard-sized mats, but none of them really worked for me.

Yoga on an uncomfortable mat is simply no fun. I can honestly say that before I found my perfect mat, I practiced half as much as I do now (if that).

Keep At It

The number one thing to keep in mind is that this practice is here to help you. You’re the one who wanted to start it, and you’re the only one who’s going to keep you from following through. It may take a little dedication and hard work, but soon your daily yoga practice will be second nature. Kind of like brushing your teeth, only better.

If you have any questions or want to share your own tips for keeping up a daily yoga practice, drop a comment below! We’d love to hear from you.

Namaste,

Xak

Yoga Breathing for Anxiety – Letting Go of Stress

There are over 40 million people in the United States alone that struggle with anxiety. I’ve had it in the past, and it’s no fun. Pacing back and forth, rubbing my legs incessantly, trying my best to not have a full-blown panic attack at work or even at home has happened to me more often than I’d like to admit.

I haven’t fully conquered anxiety. I still get anxious during high-intensity situations, but I’d definitely consider myself leagues above where I was a year ago. There are a number of things I’ve changed to help me overcome anxiety, and breathing is one of the areas I’d say has had one of the greatest impacts on my life.

If you struggle with anxiety, and you’re looking for something to take the edge off, try one or more of the following breathing exercises and see how you feel.

Deer-Seal (Mrigi Mudra)

One of the most effective breathing techniques that’s worked for me has been the Mrigi Mudra, commonly referred to as deer-seal breathing. The process is simple! Plug one nostril with your pinky and take a breath in through your nose. Then, used your thumb or index finger to plug your other nostril, releasing your pinky and breathing out through the open nostril.

You can do this a few times on each side before reversing the flow. This practice is very calming and allows for concentration of the breath, a nice distraction from any of the other thoughts that the anxious mind can sometimes muster.

One great thing about deer-seal breathing is you can do it any time, anywhere! It doesn’t take long to notice the effects.

Skull Shining Breath

The skull shining breathing method is said to cleanse air passages in the body and is very helpful not only in stress reduction, but it has also been known to help with digestion and improve the amount of oxygen in your system.

To begin, have a seat, head above heart, in a criss-cross-applesauce position. Next, take a deep inhale in for about 4-6 seconds. Let the air fill your abdomen and, mouth closed, start to forcefully exhale through your nose in short, quick breaths. Your abdomen should retract inward on each exhale. You should be able to do about 20-40 exhales for every inhale you take.

This practice has tons of benefits and is another one of my favorites, particularly when I’m angry. The aggressive and constant release of breath really helps me to blow off steam, and usually leaves me feeling much better.

Lion Breath

Lion breath is a super easy one that can leave you feeling either powerful or a little silly (I guess it depends on your imagination). I try not to care what other people think of me, so I leave lion’s breath feeling exuberant and strong.

You might want to try this one by yourself or with a close friend if you’ve never tried it before. I wouldn’t recommend doing this one in a quiet classroom or a library. To practice the lion breath technique, simply take a deep breath in and a heavy exhale through your mouth with your tongue extended. Don’t be afraid to really let your breath out and make some exhalation noises.

The lion breath practice can be great for anxiety, anger, and stress. These strong exhales can be thought of as releasing negative energy from the body.

Wim Hof Breathing

Wim Hof breathing doesn’t have much to do with yoga, but it is a wonderful breathing technique and can help in all areas of life. If you’ve never heard of Wim Hof or the Wim Hof Method you should check out this Joe Rogan Interview with him. It will change your life and the way you think about your body.

If you don’t believe any of the Wim Hof ideas, you should read What Doesn’t Kill Us by Scott Carney. Scott, a skeptical investigative journalist, was set out to debunk the Wim Hof Method but is now an avid supporter.

The first part of Wim Hof’s method is to work on breathing. You’ll want to get comfortable, either laying down or sitting upright. Take slow, full, and deep breaths in and immediately release these breaths. There’s no need to fully exhale, and Wim Hof actually recommends against it. You’ll want each breath in to be full and complete, but every exhale should just simply be “letting go.”

After 30-or-so breaths, your body should start feeling tingly and you’ll be very light-headed. This is good. This is what you want. Once you feel this energy, on an exhale, let go and hold it. Don’t take another breath in. Hold your breath for as long as you can, but try to relax in the process.

When you just can’t take it any longer, take a breath in and hold it for 15 seconds and then release. Repeat this entire process 3 times. You should notice that by the 3rd round you can hold your breath much longer than before. If you practice this regularly, I can assure you, you’ll be holding your breath longer than you’ve ever done before.

If you’re curious to see what this entire process looks like, check out this tutorial video that Wim Hof made!

Letting Go

One thing that all of these breathing techniques share is that they allow you to get rid of angst and unease and slow down your mind, if only a little. Try these out if you’re feeling up to it and let us know how they work for you. You can leave a comment below on your experience or if you have any questions.

Breathing goes hand-in-hand with yoga, so I really hope you’ll give one or more of these breathing exercises a chance. You may be shocked to find how helpful they can truly be.

Namaste,

Xak

Shop Yoga Mats – Where Can I Buy Online?

Hate going to the store when you can just as easily buy what you’re looking for online? I’m right there with you. When trying to shop for yoga mats, it’s sometimes easier to find what you’re looking for online rather than going store-to-store. I’ve found a few places you can check out if you’re in the market for a new mat that.

Even if you don’t find what you’re looking for, the websites below can give you a rough idea of what you’d be looking to spend as well as the many different types of mats available on the market.

Amazon

Chances are, you’ve probably heard of amazon.com. It’s one of the biggest online markets in the industry, and it has hundreds of thousands of items related to yoga. For yoga mats specifically, it has over 30,000 results to sift through.

While this may be amazing for some, this could easily be seen as overwhelming for others. With so many options, how can you be sure that you’re making the right choice on your mat? Luckily, you can filter the results on amazon and sort by highest reviewed to reduce the number of results and help you narrow down your options.

There’s nothing wrong with purchasing a mat on Amazon, and it also, along with many sellers on the site, has a wonderful return policy!

If you’re still leery, see what I had to say about the mat I bought off of Amazon!

Barefoot Yoga Co.

If you’re in the market for a more eco-friendly yoga mat, you should check out Barefoot Yoga Co. They have a variety of yoga mats ranging in price, but all of their yoga mats are what they claim to be “earth conscious.” The selection on Barefoot Yoga Co. is not as extensive as Amazon’s, so it shouldn’t leave viewers feeling to overwhelmed.

They have about 6 different types of mats to choose from and an assortment of colors on each! Their FAQ is very helpful in letting potential buyers which mat would work best for them. If you have any questions that aren’t answered in the FAQ or simply want to work with someone from Barefoot Yoga Co. to help you find the perfect mat, they’ve helpfully listed their phone number right at the top of their Yoga Mat Guide.

YogaOutlet.com

Perhaps you’re in the market for one mat or perhaps you’re in the market for buying a high quantity of mats at a wholesale price. For either scenario, yogaoutlet.com is worth checking out. They have over 100 different styles of mats to choose from, many of which you can get a discount for if you buy in bulk. They have brand names such as Jade Yoga, Gaiam, Manduka, PrAna, and more!

Aside from just mats, YogaOutlet has many other yoga accessories including: clothing, mat-cleaners, pillows, chairs, and many additional yoga necessities. This website is really cool and is worth checking out if your looking for anything yoga related.

To Buy or Not to Buy?

Before you make any purchases, I highly recommend reading reviews on whatever it is you’re looking to buy. Reviews are so helpful, as many people are honest when writing them. They will let you know what they like and what they don’t like about whatever item they’ve already bought.

Aside from reviews, do some research of your own. Find out what companies you like (or don’t like) and what causes they support. I personally like to support something whenever I make a purchase, as it’s a reminder that I have a pretty good life compared to many people in many parts of the world. I am fortunate for what I have and like to give back whenever I can.

These may not be your same desires, and that’s okay! You should still ask around and do some research to avoid buying something that you don’t know much about. It will save you from having to return the item and starting over.

I hope this was helpful, and I hope you find the mat you’re looking for! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below!

Namaste,

Xak

Free Yoga Exercises – Online & On Your Own Time

It’s the 21st century and chances are you’re busy. It’s cool, I am too! That’s why I tend to often use YouTube as my go-to for my daily yoga practice. The wonderful thing about yoga instruction on YouTube is that it’s completely, 100% FREE! I mean, who doesn’t love free yoga exercises?

There are thousands of yoga professionals on YouTube, and I am only scratching the surface on some of my favorites. If I left anyone out, it’s not because I don’t think they’re totally awesome! It’s just there are so many and I don’t have the time to start writing a book about yoga-on-YouTube (although maybe I should. Lol.)

If you’re like me and enjoy having someone guide you through a tension releasing, mood boosting, or body-part specific yoga routine, here are 4 yoga channels that you should really look into:


Yoga With Adriene

I’m always going to have love for the Yoga With Adriene channel. It’s the first YouTube channel focused on yoga that I subscribed to (I just realized I don’t subscribe to a bunch of channels… I’m going to fix that! Everybody deserves that subscription click if you enjoy their videos regularly). Anyway, Yoga with Adriene caught my attention because she’s been dedicated to her channel for years, and puts out new videos regularly! She still has videos up from 6 years ago, and they’re just as good as some of her more recent ones.

Some things I love about Adriene and her yoga channel are:

  1. She’s genuine!
  2. She’s hilarious!
  3. The amount of videos on her channel will keep you occupied for years!
  4. Her dog, Benji!

One of my favorite video sets she’s done are her 30-day challenge videos. These are great because she puts a new video out every day for 30 days, and you can use these to stay motivated to “keep up” with the channel.


Yoga Dose / Yoga With Tim

Yoga with Tim is another great yoga channel on YouTube. What’s awesome about Tim is that he sometimes will have someone else in his video doing the yoga poses while he goes over how the body should move and feel in the process. His instruction is very clear and moves at a very steady pace.

Some things I like about Tim and his channel are:

  1. His personality!
  2. The quality of his videos and thumbnails are aesthetically appealing and make you want to click on them!
  3. He has yoga instruction videos for all levels!
  4. His videos cover all different types of yoga practices from stretching to meditation!

Another thing that Yoga with Tim does extremely well (as well as do the other channels mentioned in this blog) is that he has videos that are as short as 5 minutes to ones that are longer than an hour! This is great for those days when you’re either in a rush or you have all the time in the world to dedicate to your practice.


Shona Vertue

Another great yoga channel to check out is Shona Vertue. She’s great for many reasons, and I don’t see how anyone could not enjoy watching her videos. Seriously, even if you don’t do yoga, just watch her channel introduction video and you’ll see what I mean.

Some of my favorite things about Shona’s channel are:

  1. Her vibe and sense of humor!
  2. She does workout videos apart from just yoga videos!
  3. She has health-food videos as well!
  4. All of her videos are enjoyable to watch!

Seriously, the only thing I don’t like about Shona Vertue’s channel is that she doesn’t have more content! I would love it if she were to put out a weekly video, but sadly they’re often two weeks to a month apart. If you’ve read my Yoga For When You’re Sick blog, I used her yoga video and many of her ideas when writing it. They sure helped me recover faster!


Yoga With Kassandra

Yoga With Kassandra is another great channel, though I have not watched as many videos of hers as I have from the channels listed above, and not for any particular reason other than simply that I’ve only been doing yoga consistently for a little over a year and just discovered her channel a few months ago!

Don’t get me wrong, I love love LOVE her channel, I’m just a newbie who doesn’t have as much to say on Kassandra’s channel yet. Here are a couple things that I do love about Kassandra and her channel:

  1. Her unique yoga stretches that aren’t as typical as the ones I’ve done in the past! She does Yin Yoga!
  2. Her Q&A, unboxing, and review videos!
  3. Her online yoga certification!
  4. Her dedication to her channel!

I’m definitely going to be watching more of her videos and am highly likely to sign up for her Yin Yoga Certification. I’ve wanted to become an instructor lately, as I love to teach and I want to focus on helping people who think they can’t do yoga for whatever reason. You CAN do yoga, and if you’re looking for an online, certified yoga instructor that you can manage at your own pace, Kassandra’s channel is great!


Free Yoga!

I can’t say that free yoga is necessarily the best yoga, per se, as there are so many wonderful yoga instructors out there who’ve put in many years and deserve the compensation they demand for their teachings. However, free yoga is absolutely better than no yoga! It’s super convenient, obviously affordable, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wanted to work on their body out on their own schedule.

If you enjoyed this article feel free to share it with a friend! You can leave a comment below with your thoughts on the channels I mentioned or feel free to tell me your favorite YouTube yoga channel. You can leave any other questions or comments below, as well. Don’t be shy! I love connecting with other people, and I hope this article helped you find a little peace.

Namaste,

Xak

Review – YogaAccessories Extra Wide & Extra Long 1/4″Deluxe Yoga Mat

Hopefully the first of many reviews on this site, it’s time to share my feelings on the current yoga mat I’m using. I purchased this yoga mat on Amazon.com and have been using it for about 4 months now. Here are a few things that I like and dislike about the mat.


Comfortable

This mat is 1/4 inch thick and very comfy regardless of the surface you’re practicing on. I hardly notice a difference switching from carpet to tile or cement. This mat is very soft and feels wonderful to lie down on. I could seriously take a nap on this thing!

I am pretty bony, so this mat is perfect in terms of thickness for both my feet and the rest of my body. I have yet to find a more comfortable mat, though I’m sure there are plenty of great options out there!


Extra Large, Extra Wide

I’m over 6 feet tall, and I have a really long reach. So, I needed a mat that would fit my proportions, and this one is excellent. It’s not excessive, but it gets the job done. It’s 7-foot long and 3-foot wide, not too much bigger than a standard yoga mat. What I like about this size compared to an even large one is the portability and the ability to practice in a more confined space.

I can practice in just about any room in my house without having to move too much furniture around. This mat has just about the perfect dimensions for my body, and I will likely stick to around this size if I ever decide to purchase a new mat.


A Little Heavy

This really hasn’t been much of a problem for me, but my girlfriend did mention that the mat was a little too heavy for her to carry around. It’s about 6lbs give-or-take, and I will say it is noticeably heavier than a standard mat. The extra length, width, and thickness results in a heavier mat.

I don’t travel with my mat much, as I tend to practice yoga at home. If I were to go on the road or travel abroad, I might consider downsizing my mat a little, for one with a little less weight to it. I could see it becoming an issue on planes or while backpacking around Europe. The mat is just so big, that it could be a tad inconvenient for travel.


Slippery When Wet (Sweat)

Another thing I’ve noticed about this mat is that it’s a little slippery. It’s not unmanageable, and really I’m only adding this for the sake of honesty and controversy. In reality, the slipperiness has never once affected me, as the worst that’s happened is my feet have moved about 2 inches back during a downward-facing-dog.

Other than a couple mild movements, the slipperiness hasn’t been troublesome. Overall, the mat is pretty grippy. The thickness of the mat allows one to “sink in” a bit, and I believe it allows for a solid foundation. When the mat is dry, it has quite the grip.

After reading a couple Amazon reviews, some people have mentioned wiping down the mat with vinegar before using it to remove any slipperiness. I have yet to try it myself, but it sounds like it has worked for most people! If you’re worried about this mat being too slippery, I wouldn’t stress too much. I have yet to have any complaints, myself, on the subject.


Cost Effective

It’s not the cheapest, but it’s also not the priciest. At around $40 or so, you can get this mat in a handful of colors. Some people spend hundreds of dollars on their yoga mats, but I try to be as frugal as possible. I have an amazon credit card, and try to use my rewards points as much as possible. I was able to use some rewards points and order this mat for under $20!

If you don’t have any points, $40 is still not too bad of a price for the mat you’d be getting. I’m sure there are mats that might exceed this one, but I’ve been happy with my purchase for over 4 months, and my mat still looks brand new! I haven’t even cleaned it once, but there are no stains or marks, and the mat is in excellent condition.

I see this mat lasting for at least a couple of years. I would give this mat an A+ for it’s price-to-quality ratio. It has served its purpose and hasn’t let me down yet!


Need A New Mat?

If you’re looking for a small, lightweight yoga mat, this one probably isn’t for you. However, if you’re in the market for a mat that is a little more comfortable, one that is spacious, and one that will stand the test of time, this mat might be perfect for you!

I’ve included a link to the exact mat I have below for anyone interested. I hope that whatever mat you decide on will serve you well. Don’t just buy a mat to get one, do some research on a few different mats. Find the one that will work for you. The last thing you want is to buy a mat only to hate it and have to purchase another one. If you have any questions about this mat or would like to leave any comments, feel free to do so below! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Yoga Accessories Extra Wide and Extra Long 1/4” Thick Deluxe Yoga Mat (Dark Teal)

Namaste,

Xak

Yoga Poses When You Are Sick – Gentle Movement

I’m sick right now, so this might not be the best article I’ve ever written. I hope you’ll forgive me. While I am coughing up a storm and blowing my nose like it’s about to go out of style, I still feel somewhat decent overall. I don’t get sick often, but when I do, it’s pretty bad. This has been the first time I can remember, that while having the common cold I’m still smiling and laughing and enjoying myself (as much as one can with the common cold).

I’ve been trying to identify why I’m not sulking and moaning like I normally do when I catch a case of the sniffles, but there’s only one thing that I’ve been doing differently. You guessed it… Yoga. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not well. I still feel awful, and yoga hasn’t magically cured by illness by any means. I think it has helped me think more clearly and helped my body heal a little differently than it has in the past, though.

I just want to share a couple yoga poses for when you are sick that I’ve been doing in hopes that you get some relief as well! This article is for those who are suffering from a common cold. I’m not a doctor, and if you have the flu or something else more severe, I recommend consulting one before taking my advice.


Don’t Over Exert Yourself

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, I want to stress the fact that your body is trying to heal itself, right now. You shouldn’t be putting any extra strain on your body, forcing it to work harder than it needs to. Rather, you should keep the exercise and movements minimal and very light.

You should focus more on breathing than anything else. It may be difficult, especially with a runny nose, but your body needs to expel the bad air and take in the clean air. It shouldn’t be focused on trying to repair muscle tissue or achy limbs from an intense exercise.

Keep your movements gentle and fluid. Breathe deep with each move you make, and try to focus on healing. The mind is a powerful thing. If you can focus your energy towards fighting the virus you’re battling, perhaps you’ll see that you can heal much faster than normal.


Light Stretching, Easy Does It

Seriously, I can’t stress this enough. Go easy on your body. This might be hard for you if you’re used to an intense yoga workout 7 days a week. Trust me, though. Don’t do it. Truly, you should be resting up as much as you can while you’re feeling down. It will make the healing process much faster.

While you should definitely rest up, there isn’t anything wrong with moving around a little. You’re going to have to use the bathroom once or twice, anyway. Right? Movement keeps the blood flowing and can do some good for your body, that lying around can’t provide.

Some great yoga stretches and postures that I recommend for when you’re sick are:

  1. Cat-Cow
  2. Mountain Pose
  3. Baby Cobra
  4. Forward Fold
  5. Happy Baby

I will go into each of these poses, what they are and the benefits of each, in the sections below.


Cat-Cow (Bitilasana Marjaryasana)

The cat-cow asana is one of my favorite poses in yoga. It’s a very simple exercise that requires you to get on your hands and knees in a table-top position. The cat part of the movement rounds out your spine, arching your back as if you were an angry cat. You then release slowly back into table-top and move towards the cow position. The cow position opens the chest and allows your breathing to be more full.

Here’s a great video that explains how to do cat-cow pose for those new to yoga. It’s very important to focus on your breath while doing this, as you won’t reap the benefits without doing so. Cat-cow is wonderful because it relieves tension in the back, neck, and hips as well as increases your flexibility in your shoulders and spine.


Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Tadasana, or mountain pose, is great for when you’re sick because it requires very little effort at all. You simply stand upright, feet together or shoulder width apart, and with your arms either to your side or hands together at the chest in a prayer-esque position.

Mountain pose is important because it is your foundation. It helps calm your breathing and allows you to focus on the different parts of your body in a neutral position. It not only is good for your breath, but it helps with awareness, posture, and balance. This video gives a great demonstration on mountain pose!


Baby Cobra (Bhujangasana)

The baby cobra pose is another favorite of mine, possibly because one of the noticeable benefits is an elevated mood. I tend to feel happier throughout the day when I incorporate any cobra variation into my practice. Baby cobra is the same as the cobra pose, but without as much stress on the back or shoulders. You don’t have to force yourself into quite as deep of a stretch, but you still get the warmth in your lower back.

Baby cobra and other cobra poses helps with flexibility and strengthens muscles in your shoulders, abdomen, back, and chest. To practice the baby cobra, first lay down on your belly with your hands just underneath the shoulders. Your legs should be extended with the tops of your feet pressed against the mat. You then inhale while gently pressing away from your mat, lifting your front body up. You finish by lowering back down on your exhale.

Here’s a short video on what it looks like.


Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

Forward fold can be great for your sinuses. The upside-down aspect is rejuvenating in itself, and allows your head to sink below your heart, great for blood flow. The standing forward fold, also has benefits to the spine, hips and legs.

The arch of the back is great for flexibility, not only in the spine, but in the calves and hamstrings as well. To do a standing forward fold, start in mountain pose and simply collapse your body forward. Remember to go slowly and gently.

Here’s a breakdown of the forward fold, what to do and what not to do.


Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)

Happy is great for opening the hips and relieving stress. It’s nice to lay on your back, grab your feet and just roll around a little in infant-like bliss. This stretch is not only easily do-able, but it’s great on the back as well as the hips.

To get into happy baby posture, simply lie on your back and lift your legs as if you’re a dead bug. Grab the outer edges of the feet, your ankles, toes, or heels. You and kick out your legs in whatever motion feels good.

Here’s a nice instructional video explaining the ananda balasana pose.


Sickness Can’t Stop Us

I hope this helps motivate you to move around a little while you’re sick. Remember, your body is trying to heal itself, so don’t over work yourself. Focus on your breathing more than anything, but it should feel good to stretch your body out a little.

This video has a great full body exercise that incorporates many of the exercises mentioned above as well as a few extras. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest to get over that illness ASAP. Feel free to share any other ideas that you have for doing yoga when you’re sick.

Namaste,

Xak

Beginner Yoga Exercise Routine – Forming Habits

If you’re looking for a beginner yoga exercise routine, you’ve come to the right place. I’m here to help you come up with a daily or weekly routine that works for you and your schedule. If you’re anything like me, chances are you’re pretty busy, and though you may be interested in getting into a new, healthy habit, you may be struggling to find the time to fit anything new into your already packed schedule.

No worries! You don’t have to make any drastic changes to fit a little bit of yoga into your life. All it takes is a few minutes every day. After a few weeks of regular practice, you’ll start to notice how much more time you have than you realize. Yoga can allow your mind to really slow down and see things in a new perspective. You’ll not only be able to focus more on the things that are important, but you’ll hopefully gain a surge of new and fresh energy that will carry you through the rest of your day


Where Do You Have Time?

The first step in starting anything new, yoga or not, is to find where it can fit in your schedule. If you have all the free time in the world, this shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you’re in a position like mine, you probably don’t have a ton of free time to waste or fill with new activities.

When you’re starting out, it might be overwhelming, but I assure you that there is time for a few minutes of yoga a day. You don’t have to get up any earlier or get up any later than usual. You don’t have to try to force it in. Just see where it fits in naturally.

For me, I like to start first thing in the morning, before breakfast or really anything else. I find starting my day with yoga really helps my attitude throughout the day. I don’t let stressful situations affect me as severely as before, and I tend to have a fairly clear head throughout the day. I used to spend my first hour or so before work trying to get a bunch of other things done, but I found myself rushing around the house, barely getting anything done, and leaving more stressed out than I needed to be. Since changing my daily routine, I feel more balanced and relaxed throughout the day.

Now, you may already have a morning routine that you want to stick to, and that’s completely fine. Morning yoga works for me, but I understand that it’s not something for everyone. If you can’t fit it in during the morning, what about the evening? What about the middle of the day? If you truly feel there isn’t time, I challenge you to look a little deeper. How do you spend your lunch break at work? Could it be possible to fit a 10-minute session in there? What about right before bed? How much time do you spend scrolling through your feed on your smart-phone or laptop? Could you possibly give up a few minutes of your day doing other menial tasks to spend a couple minutes on your mat?

It doesn’t even have to be a daily thing! If you can aim to just do once or twice a week, that’s a huge first step. Building discipline and forming a habit, is the important thing to remember. Once you’ve fared a few weeks of regular practice, the rest will come naturally. You won’t even have to think about finding the time.


Discipline Yourself, Form a Habit

Discipline might be a scary word, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, I believe discipline to be a very powerful and positive characteristic! I’m proud to say that I have discipline and can choose how I want to live my life rather than taking it by chance. Granted, not everything is under my control, but the things I can control are helping me form healthy habits that the future me will be very grateful of.

Whether you’re a naturally disciplined person or not, it’s something that is easily learned, and once you have it, it only gets stronger. Start out by disciplining yourself on something easy if you don’t believe me. Put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror that says “I have discipline.” Every morning, when you wake up and see the note, read it out loud to yourself in the mirror. Do this every day for one month. If by the end of the month you were able to complete this simple task, BOOM! You have discipline. You were able to change your daily routine, even if it was only a very small change. You still had the discipline to follow through every day and complete the task.

Whether you’re starting in the morning or evening, going for a daily routine or weekly routine, try your best to keep your yoga routine consistent. This will help with the discipline. If you try to wing it, fitting it in wherever you can day-by-day, you might find yourself skipping more often than you’d like. Instead, if you have a set routine and a specific time dedicated to your practice, you’ll be more likely to follow through.


Time Limits

Along with keeping your daily or weekly routine consistent, setting time limits is another super helpful way to stay on track. If you have ample free time, this section might not be quite as important, but if you’re a busy-bee these time limits will definitely come in handy.

I recommend starting with at least 10 minutes of yoga for beginners. If you don’t have 10 minutes, you can start with 5 and there’s nothing wrong with that. Anything more than 10 is just a bonus! I’ve found that my ideal yoga workout lasts anywhere from 25-30 minutes. Usually, if I try to do anything longer, my mind tends to drift. You can find what works for you, and stick to that.

I recommend starting with around 10 minutes for newcomers, as you don’t want to overwork your body if you’re not used to exercising. If you do an hour yoga session the first day, and the next day your entire body is sore-as-can-be, how likely do you think it is you’ll hop on your mat again the next day, or even the day after. I’ll tell you, it’s not likely. Start small, but be consistent. The more you get used to the exercise routine, the easier it will get, and the longer you’ll be able to stay on the mat.

Setting a timer or alarm clock to keep you on track can definitely help. When you block-out specific times for specific tasks throughout your day, you’ll soon notice how beneficial this habit can be. You won’t have to worry about being late for anything, since you’ll know exactly how long you have dedicated to your yoga practice.


Expectations

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re finding it hard getting started with all of this. It takes times forming habits. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. You shouldn’t expect to form a brand new habit overnight, especially one that involves exercise. Be patient with yourself and don’t give up!

The key is to notice your failures and learn from them. For example, if your original intent was to start a daily morning practice, but you’re finding yourself groggy and unmotivated most mornings, you could maybe try making Wednesdays your day to get serious. You could also try an evening routine, to see if it’s just the mornings that weren’t working out.

You don’t need to get this down 100%. Nobody is perfect, and you shouldn’t expect yourself to be, especially not if you’re just starting. I will say, the closer you are to sticking with your goals, the easier they will come over time. Try not to get frustrated with yourself. Instead, be proud that your head and heart are in the right place and working towards getting you where you want to be.

You can do this. I believe in you. If you need any tips for what I’ve found works for me, feel free to ask them in the comments below! I’m more than happy to share anything I know or do if it will help. We’re all in this together.

Namaste,

Xak

Yoga for Beginners Over 50 – You’re Never Too Old

Yoga has really become a popular activity for both the young and for senior citizens over the last few years. If you’ve been thinking about starting yoga, but are afraid your body might not be up for the challenge, push those feelings aside. I’m here to help you get into yoga at your own pace, regardless of your age. Whether you’re older than 50 or you just hit your 20s, there’s something valuable that any person, regardless of age, can take away from a regular yoga practice.


My Body Isn’t What It Used To Be…

Not all of us are in the shape that we’d like to be in, whether we’d like to admit it or not. I know that I, myself, have a long way to go before I reach my fitness goals. The key is to start small. You don’t need to put unwanted stress on your body or try to force your limbs into difficult positions just because that’s what the instructor calls for (and yes, if you’re just starting out, I do recommend a yoga instructor for those new to the practice. You can find a yoga class in your town or search YouTube for beginner yoga lessons).

I personally like to use YouTube for guided instruction, and Yoga with Adriene has some really good videos for yoga students of all levels. If an instructor isn’t your thing, no sweat! You can look up some basic yoga stretches and find what works best for you.

The important thing to remember is that just because a lesson is headed in a certain direction, that does not mean you have to participate in the stretches that are too uncomfortable for your body. For example, if your wrists give you aches and pains, downward-facing-dog or a full body plank may be too much for you. You could switch it up by laying on your back and lifting your arms and legs in a V shape, instead.

Even if your body has very limited movement and just about every stretch and position hurts, just working with what you can do will seriously help with your flexibility. Over time, you might find yourself being able to do those stretches that you earlier thought were impossible.


Finding Someone to Practice With

You may be the type of person who will be more likely to participate if you have a friend to do it with. I can assure you that there are people everywhere of all ages, shapes, and sizes who are adamant yoga enthusiasts.

You may not be able to get your best friend into the practice right away, but I suggest going to a gym such as LA Fitness that offers yoga classes or any other yoga studio and working with a beginner class. You’ll be surprised to see that beginner yoga isn’t all models and athletes. They’re filled with people just like you and me!

After some weeks in a dedicated class, who knows? Perhaps your friend who was originally against going with you may come around and attend a class to see what it’s like. If they’re still on the fence, you can even show them this article to help counter any arguments they might have about not being flexible!


Transportation Issues?

This may or may not relate to you, but if you’re no longer driving or have a hard time getting around, there are a few things you could consider:

  1. YouTube channels dedicated to yoga
  2. DVDs on beginner yoga
  3. Hiring a private instructor

If you’re like me, I personally enjoy video instruction because it allows me to go at my own pace. I can pause the video and hold a particular stretch that feels super good just a little longer. I can also go back if I missed something, or move forward if I don’t want to do a particular stretch.

Videos may not be for you though, and that’s okay! Some people really enjoy the face-to-face interaction, and I can definitely see why. Having someone there while you practice can help if you’re unsure if you’re doing the poses correctly. Just remember that they are there to help you, not to judge you. Don’t let the fear of failure deter you from getting a personal instructor or a yoga partner. Nobody is going to judge you, and if they do, that’s something that they need to work on, not you. You’re perfect.


What Are You Waiting For?

Whether you’re 24 or 94, you’re not getting any younger! If yoga is something that you’ve been thinking about trying, try it. Hopefully, by now you can see that some of those things that you were afraid of were really no biggie. The yoga community is a very welcoming one, so if you’re just starting out know that you’re accepted and we want you to participate with us!

I hope this article helps a little bit, and I hope that if you’ve been thinking about doing yoga that you give it a shot. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below!

Namaste,

Xak

Daily Yoga Routine for Beginners – Start Small

If you’re thinking about getting into a daily yoga routine or are just starting out in the practice, let me suggest something that might help. Don’t over-do it. I’ve found myself wanting to do yoga more each day, if I don’t try to overexert myself on the mat the day before.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have a daily yoga practice if you’re just starting out! It also doesn’t entail only doing X amount of minutes every day. My biggest tip: listen to your body! Your body will tell you if it’s just not feeling it today or if a particular stretch is less than ideal. Don’t shut it out. Listen.

Now, you may just feel lazy one day and not want to practice, but I do recommend trying to at least do a little bit. Routines take a little while to form habits. So if you’re just starting out, even a little bit every day can do wonders.

The 5-Minute Practice

Don’t think you have to do yoga for an hour every day to benefit from it. That’s simply not true. In fact, even as little as 5 minutes a day can do wonders for your body and your mind. If you’re just now getting into yoga, think about how often you usually stretch out every single day. If I had to take a guess, I’d say it’s probably less than 5 minutes!

So, starting small is what I recommend for new practitioners. Your muscles will thank me later. You can still get a really good full body stretch or even a body-part specific stretch in 5 minutes or less. The key is not to do a bunch of stretching and mind techniques all at once but rather to be consistent every day.

There’s a famous quote from Bruce Lee that exemplifies this perfectly: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

Don’t Get in Your Head

As humans, we often like to try to “fix” ourselves by telling ourselves what we’re doing wrong, and what we can do better. While this can absolutely be helpful, it can also get in the way of our yoga practice, especially if we’re just starting out.

If you’re new to yoga, chances are you’re not going to be able to get into every single pose right away, and that’s okay! Do as much as you can, and don’t push your body. I promise you that if you stick with it, it will get easier over time. You might be like I was when I started, unable to touch your toes, hardly able to bend over. If that’s as far as you can go, cool! Nobody is going to judge you for not being a master at yoga right out of the gate.

Know that many people practice yoga for years before they’d consider themselves even remotely good at it. I am by no means an expert, and I have a lot to learn both in stretching and in mindfulness. I recognize this, but I also recognize that this is okay, and, if anything, it’s a goal to strive towards.

It’s Not All About the Stretching

Yes, yoga has many postures that require a great deal of stretching, but yoga has so much more to offer than simply just that. Yoga teaches us how to be patient, how to be mindful of ourselves and our environment, and how to connect with the energy surrounding us.

We are all connected, and while it might not seem like it if you’ve never stepped on a mat before, do a year of yoga and see if your thought process changes at all. Shoot, just give it a month of consistent practice! You should start to notice a change in the way you see things.

Maybe you’re the type of person who is always in a rush. Yoga can teach you to slow down a little bit. Perhaps you’re a little hot-headed and quick to anger. Yoga can help you focus on being mindful and patient of others and patient with yourself. If you’re in a sour mood, yoga can often help lift you up.

Yoga stretches are great for the body, but the mindful practices I’ve gotten out of my daily practice have done so much more than basic stretching could ever do.

Hop on Your Mat

Yoga is a powerful tool that I truly believe just about everyone can benefit from. You might not be the most flexible, but neither am I. As long as your heart is in the right place, you’ll soon see what I mean about yoga being more than a stretching exercise.

While stretching is important, the mindful techniques that yoga teaches us can do wonders for the soul. All it takes is as little as 5 minutes a day to see a change. Once you’ve gotten your 5 minute practice down, feel free to add more time, but always remember… listen to your body.

I hope this helped shed a little light for people new to yoga, and I hope it was also a reminder for the seasoned yoga veteran that yoga goes beyond ourselves. We are all connected in this world, and we need to be more mindful of that. Let us help lift each other up and inspire each other to grow, every day.

Namaste,

Xak

Oversized Yoga Mat or Standard Size? What to Consider

Whether you’ve been into yoga for years or you’re just starting out, your yoga mat is one of the most important things you can bring with you to your practice, other than yourself of course! If you’ve been at it a while, it may be time to upgrade your mat to something that is more you, and if you’re just starting out, you might be looking into getting your first one and don’t want to waste your money on something that isn’t a great fit.

For me, I am very happy with the mat I chose, although it took me a bit of digging to find the right one! I’m a fairly tall guy, so I wanted a mat that was not only longer and wider than a standard yoga mat, but I also wanted my mat to be a bit thicker for my feet and lower back. I tend to set up and often practice on a harder surface such as a wooden floor or outside on the concrete pool deck, and those thinner mats aren’t as enjoyable after 15-20 minutes of different poses. I’m pretty bony, so those harder surfaces do numbers on my body and have even left bruises with the thinner mats I’ve tried in the past!

Once I decided to upgrade my mat to one that would meet all my requirements, my practice has never been the same! I get so excited to hop on the mat, while before I’d often find myself making excuses to skip a day or even a week at a time. I knew it was mostly my mat (although I can’t pin my laziness 100% on just that). If I could just find something more comfortable, I knew I’d be more eager to stick to my daily practice. However, it’s more than just comfort that makes a great yoga mat. If you’re still deciding on what direction to take, here are a couple things you can keep in mind when picking out the right mat for you!

What’s Your Favorite Color?

While it may not be the most important aspect of your mat, if you don’t like how your mat looks, it might eventually get to your head. You might not think that at first, but having to look at something every day is bigger than you might think.

Imagine hanging a beautiful painting in your house or apartment or wherever you’re staying. Every time you walk by that painting you can’t help but smile. It’s perfect, and it makes you feel at home and at peace. Now, imagine if you hung up that same painting, but now that painting is crooked. The painting is perfect in every other way, but now every time you walk by and admire it’s beauty, you can’t help but feel the need to straighten it. Over time this urge to fix the painting only gets stronger and stronger.

Maybe that isn’t you, and perhaps you don’t mind if the painting is beautiful and crooked, as long as it’s beautiful. If that’s the case, great! Maybe you don’t care what your mat looks like as long as it fits all of your other needs. If you’re like me though, that mat (or painting for that matter) would drive me crazy! Even if my mat met all my other needs, I might find myself thinking, “hmm… maybe I should have picked a mat.”

Don’t let this be you. If the look of your mat is important to you, recognize it! You don’t want to be looking for another new mat 2 months down the line.

Is Comfort Important to You?

If you’re like me, then yes, comfort is essential when it comes to your yoga mat, but hey! Everybody is different, and maybe you couldn’t care less if your mat was comfortable or if it was paper thin and rough on your feet.

For me, I like a nice soft mat for my sore feet, achy lower back, and bony body. I like to physically exert my body doing a number of rugged activities such as skateboarding, motocross, and hiking, so my feet are often bruised on the bottom. The last thing I want to do is be in eagle pose, pressing away from my mat, squinting in pain, or to be laying on my back with my tailbone causing me pain from the hard ground underneath.

You might experience similar feelings, or you may not. I know some who enjoy being in discomfort when they practice yoga, and if that’s more your style, by all means have it your way. It’s sometimes good to be in physical discomfort, as with it often comes more awareness.

Another thing to mention, just because a yoga mat is thin doesn’t mean that it’s going to be uncomfortable for you! This brings us to the next thing to consider when choosing the right for you…

Do You Need a Large or a Small Mat?

As I mentioned earlier, I am pretty tall. It only makes sense that I want a mat that will fit the proportions of my body. However, even if you aren’t that tall, maybe an oversized yoga mat is something that interests you. Here’s a couple takeaways that I noticed after upgrading from a standard sized yoga mat (around 72″ long and 26″ wide) to a wider, longer mat that’s 7 feet (84″) long and 3 feet (36″) wide:

  1. The larger the yoga mat, the heavier it tends to be. Because my newer mat is also 1/4″ thick as opposed to my previous mat that was paper thin, I find it noticeably heavier than the other mats I’ve used in the past. This isn’t a problem for me, I actually prefer it. Just know that the bigger you go, the more mat you’re going to have to carry.
  2. Space is important. Just because you want a big yoga mat, doesn’t mean you’ll always have the space to lay it down. If you only do yoga in one spot, it’s as simple as measuring your room or yoga area and seeing if the dimensions of the mat you’re interested in are compatible. If you’re like me and take your mat with you, you could experience some problems laying it out where a smaller mat might come in handy. A mat like mine, might not fit in your suitcase.

I’m sure there are other factors in regard to size to ponder, but these are the two that really stuck out to me. It wasn’t until after I got a new mat, that I realized it, but luckily I’ve been fortunate enough to not have any problems with my new mat. Big or small, as long as you’re confident with your decision at the end of the day, it’ll likely be the right one.

So now you’ve got an idea on what to look for in a yoga mat, but there’s one thing that you might not have thought about until now.

What’s Your Budget?

Yoga mats can drastically vary in price. I’ve seen mats range anywhere from a few bucks to hundreds of dollars. As much as I’d love to buy the most expensive mat money can buy, I know that’s not the most practical in most cases. I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg for my mat, but I also wanted a quality mat.

While price can surely be an indicator of quality, that’s not always the case. I was able to find a mat that fit my needs all for under $40. This may seem steep to some, but oversized yoga mats often cost more than the standard simply because of more material being used. I found the price I paid very reasonable for what I received. In all honesty, there isn’t much that I don’t love about my yoga mat! I could have spent a little more to fix the things that do stand out, but I honestly don’t feel the changes would have been worth the price difference.

If money isn’t a factor, then shoot for the stars! Get whatever mat that stands out to you among the hundreds of mats out there. However, if you’re on a budget, you might find using a “sort by: price” filter and sifting through customer reviews to be the way to go when looking for your new mat.

Regardless, money shouldn’t be the main focus when deciding on your mat, it should be the last thing on the list to check off after you’ve thought about everything else.

Finding Your Balance

Yoga mats are an essential part of yoga as they not only help with hard-to-execute postures, but they also provide stability and create friction between your feet and the ground. It’s important to choose the right mat for your needs whether that be a bigger, smaller, thicker, thinner, longer, shorter, *insert adjective here* type of mat.

Once you find the mat that meets all of your requirements, you may feel so much better about getting up and practicing. Sometimes all it takes is the perfect yoga mat to help you be the best you that you can be.

My mat surely was that for me! I practice now more than I ever have, and I have to give much of the credit to my new yoga mat. I truly hope this helps you find the perfect mat for your body.

Namaste,

Xak