A Simple, Scare-Free Guide to Yoga

Hi, I’m Melissa, and I’m one of the stiffest humans on the planet.

When I wake up in the morning, I can’t touch my toes. When I go to bed at night, I still can’t. Flexibility has never been my amazing work. In fact, from the stats above, I plain suck at it.

If you’ve never tried yoga, or worry that you’re too overweight, too old, too stiff, too uncoordinated … the main point of this post is to prove that you’re not.

My Story of Stiff

I blame a few things for my taut tendons, like my height (I’m 5’9″) and the more probable truth – that I spent the past 11 years sitting down on the job. Good thing, too … If I hadn’t, I would have been fired. That’s the reality of a cubicle career.

A while back, I flirted with the idea of yoga. Everyone was talking about it, so I decided to join the movement. To prove I was serious, I bought a cute yoga outfit and signed up for a class. (Just a note – cute yoga outfits are overrated. Grab a stretchy shirt and pants from your closet. They’ll work just fine.) While the rest of the class flowed into their poses, I felt like a lanky loser. I became really discouraged during downward dog when the instructor whispered, “Heels on the ground.” Then, she pushed down on my low back.

Well, that just wasn’t going to happen, lady!

Maybe you’ve had a similar first-time with yoga. If the thought of joining a classroom of limber vixens scares you, try yoga at home for a while. This post will give you some easy ideas on how to do that.

Why something like touching your toes matters.

When you’re wound up, literally, your body is at risk for a lot of bad stuff. Increasing your flexibility gives you:

  • More enjoyment in life due to free movement.
  • Improved workout performance.
  • Decreased risk of injury.
  • Reduced muscle soreness.
  • Improved posture.
  • Reduced risk of low back pain.
  • Increased blood and nutrients to tissues.
  • Improved muscle coordination.

It’s also one of the natural ways I avoid panic attacks, and I do it right from the comfort of my home. I try to start each morning with a few easy positions, working through one longer session twice a week. Linking my breath with movement first thing really sets the mood for the rest of the day. I’ve actually developed a huge yoga crush since my first experience.

Fair warning.

Yoga is a lot harder than it looks. At first, you might notice:

  • You feel out of breath. You might even work up a sweat, but don’t worry, that’s a good thing. If you feel like quitting, just hold a position until your heartbeat slows down a bit. Then, flow back into movement.
  • Your wrists hurt. The palms of my hands and wrists were a little sore when I first got into a yoga routine. Stick with it. The pain goes away after the first week or two. Keep strengthening those new body parts.
  • You’re not doing it right. It’s easy to worry about getting every pose perfect. The best thing to focus on is linking your breath to movement. The poses will feel more natural as you learn the flow.

Are you ready to get your yoga on?

There’s no fancy equipment or gym membership required. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A mat, which you can buy for about $10 – $20, and
  • Your body

Here are a few ways to learn the poses and routines:

Bonus: Try Yoga Night with Your Girlfriends

I have proof: This is a fun way to make fitness and friendships a priority.

Due to our schedules and kids, we can’t start yoga night until about 9 p.m. After yoga, we indulge in a little wine, a healthy snack, conversation and (sometimes) Sex and the City reruns. It’s been a really positive way to connect to ourselves and each other.

And coming from the stiffest human on the planet, that’s truly something to celebrate.

From left, Melissa with friends Molly and Lynn.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with other people. Thank you!

Top photo by leo.prie.to
Yoga night photo by Lynn’s incredibly patient hubby Matt

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{ 4 comments }

1 Amy September 21, 2010 at 11:37 am

I just discovered your website. . . I love your “simple approach” to homemaking! I’m excited to read more! I’ve “flirted” with Yoga. . I have a “prenatal” yoga, (since I’m growing a little one right now!) maybe I’ll pull it out today, I always do feel so much better when I take the time.

2 Melissa September 21, 2010 at 11:48 am

Hi Amy – I’m glad you took the time to say hi. Flirt a little harder with yoga … you won’t be disappointed. ;-) Congratulations on your little one. What an exciting time for you.
Take care and keep in touch.
Melissa

3 Lynn September 21, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Now I want to abandon my lunch break to do yoga. Thursday again?

4 Melissa September 21, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Any chance you could come to my place on Thursday night? I’ll email you the story… xoxo

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