I am no yoga expert, by any means. However, I have been dabbling in it since I was 15, unfortunately, not consistently, until the past few months when I moved to Toronto.
The truth is that it is really easy to make excuses to not do things that you ought to do, but don’t really want to. Why would you buy whole grain rye bread when you can get white bread for a dollar less? There can’t be that big of a health benefit, right? Why would I take a street car in -20 degree weather and pay $40 a class to do yoga?
Eventually, I decided that I need to make it impossible for me to make excuses. I know that I’ve never, ever felt worse after going to a yoga class, so I do enjoy doing it, it’s just… getting myself to do it. That’s when I started mimicking routines I did in class to the best of my ability, and started to develop my own routine, targeting the areas that I felt had more tension on my own accord. If me, a semi-rookie to yoga and meditation, can start my own routine, you can, too!
Benefits of Yoga and Meditation
You can read about the many benefits of yoga and meditation, but I’ll talk a bit about why it makes sense to me. If you were to take 10, 20, or 30 minutes of your day to completely de-stress and give your psyche a rest, whether that be reading, watching a Youtube video, etc, then you’d probably be more effective in your productivity (unless you continue to watch random Youtube videos for far too long). When you combine that with breathing and stretching exercises, engaging muscles of your body that you might not engage all the time, you literally can’t help but feel better.
Also, I know that a good bulk of my readers are like me and are hunched over their computers or books for long periods of time, and/or have to deal with awful spring mattresses because they’re going to move in 4 months anyways, or fractured their foot because they thought it was a good idea to wear heeled-boots when walking from Trinity Bellwoods to Chinatown every day … or is that just me?? Bad posture catches up to you, fam.
The basics: get a mat (one that’s a pretty color that makes you happy to look at), have a water bottle handy, and some comfy clothes. Since yoga is kind of static, I’d recommend wearing something a little on the warmer side so you don’t get chilly.
If you’ve never done yoga before, start by watching videos of instructors on Youtube, or read up on different poses and warm-ups. Since I’ve been doing yoga for a while, I have a good idea of what a typical warm-up for me should feel like, and was able to just write out the different poses I wanted to go through in a notebook. It’s okay to look at your notes and remind yourself of what your routine is the first few times- you’ll get into the hang of it eventually!
If you know anything about me, it’s that I make a playlist for literally every occasion and mood. By making a playlist that I thought had a good planned warm-up phase, “work-out” phase, and cool-down songs was really helpful in teaching myself cues. If the songs started to slow down, I knew it was time for me to slow down. I’m honoured to share my yoga playlist with you guys, titled, “Yoga from the Trap”. It’s an hour long because that’s how long I like to take, but you can always skip a few to shorten your routine!
Pick a time and honor it.
It’s easier to get into the routine of things if you do them at the same time every day and build them around existing habits. For example, I always do yoga after I finish eating breakfast, and I never miss breakfast. Over time, it’ll feel like clock work!
I say to honor it because it’s so easy to tell yourself that you don’t need to do it today. Or that you’ll do it later. It’s not a chore, this is a treat for yourself! Or it’s an essential for some.
Always end with Savasana.
This is the corpse pose, where you lie on your back with palms facing up. Take a few minutes at the end of your routine to recentre your breath, and reap the rewards of your “work-out” by identifying how each part of your body feels. I notoriously fall asleep during Savasana (it’s incredibly embarrassing especially if you snore…) because it’s so relaxing!
Have some fun, don’t take it too seriously!
At the end of the day, you should be doing this for you, so allow yourself some wiggle room in your routine for new moves and poses, methods, music, or allow yourself to indulge in one that you’re particularly fond of. One of my favorite yoga instructors ever once told my class that we could lay in corpse pose the whole class if we wanted- the time was for us to do what our body’s “calling” was!
Forward-folds are hard I’m really not flexible 😦