• Yoga IS Worth It

    Here’s one thing that every student of yoga knows—yoga is hard but it’s worth it. Sometimes yoga is even painful but that’s part of the practice. It’s a good pain that eventually makes the body, mind, and spirit feel better.

    No effort is ever lost. This is true in yoga and also in life. Yoga is after all a practice that aims to improve the quality of life.

    People come to the yoga practice for all sorts of reasons. Some start yoga looking for physical benefits that range from flexibility to strength to pain relief to a better night’s sleep. Others come looking for emotional benefits like inner peace, reduced anxiety, balm for depression, and anger management. All these physical, emotional, and mental benefits sit within the larger context of yoga as a spiritual practice. It doesn’t matter if a student realizes the mind-body-spirit connection when they unroll their mat. Sooner or later the yoga practice works to build an inner bridge between these more subtle realms.

    Take a student who wants to practice three times a week to increase flexibility for other sports and activities. This student will often find yoga to be uniquely challenging with some classes providing nearly daunting sequences. Arm balances, backbends, deep twists, inversions, and forward folds ask a lot of the body. Teachers who have been practicing for many years often demonstrate these asanas with deceptive ease and flow. The new student often leaves with mixed feelings about yoga. They aren’t sure whether the practice is for them or not.

    Some dig in deeply and search for the perfect class for them. But, testing each class and each teacher is time-consuming. Some classes marked for beginners are way too easy and others are way too hard. Students increasingly practice online as an entry to the yoga tradition. But figuring out how to navigate the Netflix of yoga can be overwhelming. Not everyone is tech-savvy, after all. Class lengths for online streaming classes are variable. Some are one hour long and replicate the feeling of a sweaty in-person class. Others are a short 10 or 20 minutes designed to fit into a busy day. The longer class may seem like it’s a better value but it may then be harder to carve out the full hour. The shorter classes are often easy to procrastinate because the mind seems to always think those 10 to 20 minutes will be available at some mythic time “later”.

    Finding a yoga teacher isn’t always easy. It can be a little bit like finding a romantic partner. There has to be chemistry, accessibility, trust and respect. Without that, it’s hard for a student to keep coming back to class. There are many yoga teachers and places to practice yoga these days. Speaking from my place within this world of yoga, I recommend to all students searching for a teacher to seek a teacher who has the best training available. A great teacher is someone who has immersed themselves in the traditional yoga teaching from India and who understands not only the yoga poses but the deep, rich philosophical and spiritual practices of yoga. And of course, let it be someone who carries enough of that magic of inspiration to be a magnetic pull back to the mat, especially on days when doubt, indecision and quitting arise.

    Here’s one thing that every student of yoga knows—yoga is hard but it’s worth it. Sometimes yoga is even painful but that’s part of the practice. It’s a good pain that eventually makes the body, mind, and spirit feel better. There is a good deal of yoga philosophy that talks about tapas, the Sanskrit word that indicates a need to go through certain pains that purify along the path of yoga. This lesson is perhaps the key tenet of much yoga philosophy, that is, that some amount of suffering can be expected but that suffering is not in vain. Instead, whatever effort is put into the practice is never lost, but always accumulated along the long road towards peace and happiness.

    By Kino MacGregor

    International yoga teacher, Kino MacGregor has over 20 years of experience in Ashtanga yoga and 18 years of experience in Vipassana Meditation. She is one of a select group of people to receive the certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga and practice into the Fifth Series of Ashtanga Yoga. With over 1 million followers on Instagram and over 700,000 subscribers on YouTube and Facebook, she spreads the message of yoga around the world.

    To Kino, yoga is more than making shapes. It is a daily ritual where people tune deeply into their spiritual center and experience the peace of the Eternal Divine. Her goal is to make the tools of traditional yoga accessible for all different sizes, shapes, ethnicities, and ages. She believes yoga is truly for everyone.

    Find on on Instagram here.

    Sign up for an Omstars membership to take your yoga practice to the next level.

    Click here to start your 14-day free trial today!

     

  • A Beginner’s Guide to Starting an At-Home Yoga Practice

    When you start your yoga journey, you’ll have difficulty getting into some poses. You’ll lose your balance and fall over. You won’t be as flexible or strong as you want to be. That is to be expected. Don’t beat yourself up. Yoga isn’t a contest to see who can get into the most challenging poses the fastest. It’s a journey of self-discovery.

    Yoga has entered the mainstream and many people around the world recognize the benefits it can have on both physical and mental health. If you are curious about yoga and interested in starting your practice at home, this guide is for you.

    Millions of people practice yoga at home every day. There are a variety of reasons to practice at home. Whether you’ve decided to practice yoga at home because you don’t have access to a yoga studio, don’t have the time or funds to attend a class, or simply feel uncomfortable trying something so new around others this post will give you the information you need to start a solid at-home practice.

    First, let’s start with the basics.

    What Is Yoga?

    Yoga is a practice that combines the inhalation and exhalation of breath with movement. It began in northern India more than 5000 years ago as a spiritual practice to train mind and body. It is a method to truly see yourself and by so doing truly see the world around you. The combination of breath and movement and meditation is used as a way to connect to higher consciousness.

    Today many ignore the spiritual aspects of yoga to focus on the physical. No matter what brings you to the practice know that as it becomes part of your life it will infuse itself in your day-to-day existence. You will not just see the physical benefits from your yoga practice but will also see mental benefits. Yoga is a journey and when you set your foot on the path you will not want to turn back.

    The Benefits of Yoga

    There are many benefits to starting a yoga practice. The physical benefits can be quite obvious. You need strength and flexibility to get into yoga poses and hold them. As you practice you will build strong lean muscles that will not only support you in your practice but decrease the risk of injury in your daily life. You will find that over time your flexibility will improve as well your balance.

    Besides the physical benefits of the practice, there are also mental benefits. Yoga can help you manage anxiety and change the way you respond to stressful situations. It can also ease chronic pain and help you get a better night’s sleep. Here’s a list of things yoga can help and links to studies about them for you to reference.

    These are just a few of the many benefits of practicing yoga.

    What You Need to Start Practicing Yoga

    Because we live in a consumer society there is an emphasis put on what people “need” to practice yoga. You could spend hundreds of dollars on yoga clothes, a mat, and all the accessories, but in reality, early practitioners had none of that. What they had was a dedication to the practice and an open mind and heart willing to learn. That is all you really need, but there are a few things most people practicing yoga in the modern age usually have.

    Yoga Mat

    When you practice you need a surface that you won’t slip on. That’s what a yoga mat does besides providing you with a little bit of cushion.

    Don’t get hung up on which yoga mat to buy. When you’re starting out, any will do.

    If you don’t have one you can use a small flat woven rug.

    The primary purpose of a mat is to help you be able to stay in positions like downward facing dog without slipping.

    Yoga Blocks

    Yoga blocks are useful to give you added support in some poses. If you don’t have yoga blocks you can use thick books in their place.

    Yoga Strap

    A yoga strap is also helpful but can easily be substituted with a belt or scarf.

    Yoga Clothes
    When you practice, be sure to wear clothes that allow you to move through your full range of motion. You do not want to feel restricted in any way while you are practicing.

    These yoga accessories can all be useful to have, but you don’t have to break the bank to get them. Stick to the most basic versions in the beginning. If you can’t get them all that doesn’t matter. What matters is having the desire to practice.

    How To Start Your Practice?

    When you’re first starting out it’s best to have some guidance. Online yoga classes have become an important tool for people looking to start practicing at home. Through the use of online yoga classes, you can learn from expert teachers from around the world. There are no limitations to the style of yoga you can learn.

    Joining an online yoga website like Omstars can give you access to thousands of classes and many different teachers who are eager to share the benefits of yoga with you.

    Below is an example of an online yoga class for beginners that you can use to get started.

    Tips to be successful at practicing yoga at home

    Now that you’re on your way to starting an at-home yoga practice here are some tips to keep you going.

    Set Aside Time to Practice

    Decide how often you want to practice. Maybe you only want to practice a few days a week. Maybe you only have a few minutes a day. It doesn’t matter if you have an hour or only 10 minutes, setting aside that little bit of time to do a few poses will help you get into the habit of practicing regularly.

    Listen to Your Body

    Many of us are used to ignoring the cues our body sends us. That is not something you want to do in yoga. Listen to your body. If you are experiencing pain or pinching back off. Always pay attention to what your body is telling you. Don’t push yourself too far. Yoga is not a contest to see who can get into the most difficult pose the fastest. Yoga is a journey of self-discovery. Self-discovery can only happens when you truly listen.

    Be Kind to Yourself

    When you start out, you’ll have difficulty getting into some poses. You’ll lose your balance and fall over. You won’t be as flexible as you want to be or as strong as you want to be. That is to be expected. Don’t beat yourself up if it’s difficult.

    Poses have modifications that you can use to make them more accessible to what your body can do at the moment. Over time as you practice what your body can do will change.

    Be kind to yourself in your practice. You’re not doing this to punish yourself. You’re doing this to learn, connect, and find a greater sense of well-being.

    As you move forward on your at-home yoga journey remember that you are not alone. There are many people practicing at home just like you. They use online yoga classes to help them at every step along the way. Here’s what one member of Omstars had to say about her membership.

    Omstars is an amazing tool and has been a huge help for me in developing a safe and insightful home practice as well as helping me continue my journey into the yogic state of mind, offering insight on anatomy and scripture that has been like having my very own satsang!

    If you’re interested in learning more about practicing yoga with the assistance of online teachers sign up to get a free beginners class class that will help you get started.

    Click here to get your free class!

     

     

    By Omstars

    Photo by kike vega on Unsplash