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Nourishing Life: yoga – practice already!

Post Published: 21 March 2011
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Category: Column, Nourishing Life, Thyroid Nutrition and Health, Yoga Class for Your Thyroid
This post currently has 5 responses. Leave a comment

So far in our month long celebration of all things yoga, I have shared with you my love for yoga and how it has transformed my health and life, taming our yoga fear dragon,  and how to best prepare for practice.  Now we come to the juicy part – yoga practice!

There are three main ways you can begin a yoga practice:

  1. Go to a class
  2. Follow a DVD
  3. Get a good book and follow the poses in the book

I recommend students go to a class first. Even if you do not intend to continue with classes, I think it is best to practice under a trained yoga teacher. Yoga is not something to take lightly – you want to ensure you are practicing as safely as possible. Injuries due to improper alignment in a yoga posture are not uncommon.

Yoga styles

Before you can look for a yoga teacher who is a good fit, it is important to have an understanding of the different styles of yoga. Full disclosure – I only practice Kripalu style yoga. I do not have experience with other styles of yoga.

“Kripalu is a yoga practice with a compassionate approach and emphasis on meditation, physical healing and spiritual transformation that overflows into daily life. Kripalu also focuses on looking inward and moving at your own pace.”  {source – www.yoga.about.com}

I encourage you to review each of the different styles of yoga on the about.com site, however I believe that the Kripalu approach is well suited to those of us who have ongoing health conditions and may be more curvy than the average bear.

Finding the right yoga teacher

When looking for a yoga teacher, you want to look for the following things:

  • 200 hour yoga teacher training (minimum)
  • experience working with people with large bodies (curvy, round, big, etc) < I really think this is key to finding the right teacher
  • open minded about what health looks like
  • gentle, compassionate approach

These may not be the standard tips to look for when trying to find a teacher, but this is what guided my decision and I found an amazing teacher who was very accepting of my size 6x self. Yoga is truly for everyone – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

DVD – at home practice

I have only used one yoga DVD, and it is the only one I am going to recommend to you. It is by Peggy Cappy and it is called “Yoga for the Rest of Us.”  I use this DVD myself. What I like about this DVD is that it offers lots of modifications. If you are new to yoga or physical activity I recommend only doing the warm up section for a few weeks. Be sure to tell your physician before you start any new activity!

Books

I have used two books in my own home practice.  I love both of them – they are both geared to us curvy gals and I believe both authors practice Kripalu yoga.

The first book is Mega Yoga by plus-size model Megan Garcia. Nice, full colour pictures and easy to understand directions. I would buy this book first. I use this book myself in my home practice.

The second book is BIG YOGA by Meera Patricia Kerr. While I like this book, I think some of the poses in it are geared to more experienced yoga students. I would get this book after you have practiced for awhile.

What I recommend if you are new to yoga, want to give it a try but money is tight

If money is tight and paying $15 for a yoga class is out of your price range right now, I would do the following:

  • search in your area for a Kripalu style teacher
  • have a conversation with them – see if they have experience teaching large bodies
  • take a beginner session so you can be taught how to do the poses under the supervision of a teacher – remember, safety first!
  • many city recreation departments offer yoga at a reasonable fee – look into it where you live
  • start a home practice AFTER the beginner session is over, using books or DVDs

However you get to your mat is the right way. Just remember to be safe and listen to your body. I believe that teachers have ALOT to offer and you will get much more out of a class than a DVD. But do not let money, or lack thereof, stop you from trying yoga.

Any other tips from those who practice yoga?

Next week I will introduce you to my most favourite pose of all…

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5 Responses to “Nourishing Life: yoga – practice already!”

  1. Amanda says:

    Jen,
    Great advice. I personally practice at home due to budget constraints. I have however visited the local studio in town [small town, 1 yoga studio in 20 mile area]. They allow you to “try” the studio once before signing up for any lessons. The “try” is free, so it is a great way to get the basics down. She also offers “work study” programs. She allows you to work for her, hanging fliers or cleaning the studio in exchange for yoga lessons.

    Checking with your physician first is very important. My doc personally has been recommending yoga to me for a long time, so she was so happy when I told her “I AM” finally!

    It helps the mind and body like nothing else can.

    Can’t wait to see what your favorite pose is!

    Amanda

    • JenniferSaunders says:

      Amanda,

      Great suggestions re: the free “try it out” class and the work study programs. I haven’t seen that much where I live, but its definitely worth asking if the studios in your area offer this.

      I’ll give you a hint on my favourite pose – its straight forward but has amazing benefits!

      oooh the suspense!

  2. Lima says:

    I absolutely swear by yoga for your mental well-being. This may help Joanna (Life Redefined: Waiting). Once I got over the paranoia surrounding my neck area from my surgery and allowed myself to stretch more freely, yoga became my escape. Not only has it allowed me to purge my usually stressful days, but it has given me incredible strength in mind, body, and soul. Once you find your breath, you can ultimately transform all things bad into good. Seriously! I know it sounds corny, but in a five month period I had a cheating break up, pregnancy, miscarriage, and diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and ultimately surgery. I pretty much came to my lowest point two to three months after surgery and was at my end. With the help of an amazing therapist, thoughtful doctor, and yoga I came back 100%.

    If you can’t always make it to a class at your local Y or other fitness club (sometimes that’s the case for me). I swear by Comcast On Demand Exercise TV (if it’s available in your town). The Yoga & Pilates section has videos ranging from 12 minutes to a full 60 minute “class.” If you do not have Comcast, you can go online to Exercise TV and they have many free videos as well as some that can be purchased for a very minimal fee.

    It’s one of the best things you can do for your body!!!

  3. Meera says:

    Hey! Thanks for the mention, about Big Yoga! I also have a couple of DVDs, and I would love to send you the Big Yoga Flex-Abiility for review. It breaks things down a little more–really good for folks who found the book too advanced. Keep up the great posts!

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