As many of you who are a part of my Facebook page know, I began doing yoga consistently around May 2015. Previously, I had done some yoga DVDs and classes on and off, but never really got into them. For the most part, I thought that yoga was boring and frustrating because I swear, I’m like the least flexible person on Earth.
But I don’t know, this time around, something changed. Perhaps it was a need to alleviate the stress of being a full-time adult or the fact that I tried Beachbody workouts and those caused injury for me, but over the past six months, I’ve fallen in love with my practice. I frequently leave my yoga mat in the middle of the floor so I can stretch or practice asanas (poses) while I watch TV, have bought more yoga clothes than work clothes, and even (GASP) wake up earlier to get a practice in to start my day.
Currently, I try to do around 45-60 minutes a day, but I started out with much shorter practices that were part of yoga challenges. If you’re new to yoga, I think this is a great idea because it allows you to build up more strength before increasing your practice time (contrary to popular belief, yoga requires a lot of strength, especially in the core), takes up less time which makes you more likely to stay consistent, and allows you to double up with your regular workout if you don’t think yoga is enough cardio alone. Also, these challenges are free (free.99, y’all!), so it’s a great way to try out yoga without spending a ton of money on live classes or an online community. Here are some of the challenges I’ve tried:
- Sadie Nardini’s 14 Day Yoga Shred (DOYOUYOGA): This contains moves that aren’t totally “traditional” yoga, so I think it’s a good start for those who are still clinging to the world of cardio and toning workouts. All of the practices are less than 15 minutes, and most actually get your heart rate up due to the calorie burn Sadie emphasizes.
- 30 Days of Yoga (Yoga with Adriene): Now this is the challenge where I completely fell in love with yoga, and honestly, I think Adriene (the instructor) had a lot to do with it. She’s really quirky, positive, and encouraging. The practices she leads are a great pace for beginners and there’s a good mix of strength, soothe, and have a good intro of balancing poses. The longest practices are around 35 minutes, but most of them hover around the 20 minute mark. I still refer back to these when I choose my own practice for the day.
- Yoga Fix 90 (Fightmaster Yoga): This is the challenge I did after 30 Days of Yoga, and I can’t lie, I wasn’t as consistent with these practices due to travel and plans over the weekends. A lot of these are over 30 minutes. Also, I’d say the difficulty is a bit more than the previous two (her HIIT practices are killer), so these don’t work if um, you’ve partied a bit too much the night before. Seriously, once after a night out, I stopped midway and just laid on my mat, thinking about why I had to take Fireball shots. Leslie’s flows can also be a bit quicker, so I recommend either looking at some of her beginner videos or supplementing with something else to start. At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get through the 90 days, but I ended up loving it. Leslie does an inspirational quote at the end of each practice, which I think really help tie your physical practice to the spiritual aspect of yoga. I can’t lie, she may have made me cry on my mat a few times (in a good way except for those damn HIIT practices!).
- Leah Cullis’ 14 Day Power Yoga Challenge (DOYOUYOGA): Although this challenge focuses on building strength in your muscles, it’s a good beginner course because the flows are slow to focus on holds. So, if you aren’t familiar with asanas there’s a lot of information on positioning and paying attention to how your muscles should feel in the poses. No equipment is needed and all the practices are ten minutes or less.
Note, when I was doing the DOYOUYOGA courses, I usually paired them with a course from Adriene or Leslie because they are so short, but if you don’t have the time it’s a great way to fit your practice in. Tara Stiles also has short practices on LivestrongWoman that you can pair together to complete your daily practice. You can also split them up throughout the day if you like – sometimes I do a morning and evening practice because I’m usually more flexible later in the day and can get deeper into my poses.
As I’ve continued to grow my practice, I added a few more instructors, such as Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox Power Yoga Series and practices from The Yoga Collective. And because I love challenges so much, I think up next I’m going to get The Ultimate Yogi, which is like the P90X of yoga. It’s a whopping 108 days and the practices are an hour or more. It sounds intimidating as hell, but hey, I’m not opposed. On the last day, you do 108 sun salutations, which kind of makes me weep when I think about it. But as I’ve learned throughout my journey, “you don’t practice to be perfect, you practice to be present.” Now that’s some om I can get down with.
Also, check out my video on Beginner Yogi Tips for additional resources. These really helped me kickstart my journey.
If you have any questions about any of the series I’ve mentioned, please let me know. Namaste!