June 29, 2018
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Finding a workout routine to stick to has always been hit or miss (usually miss). I went through a brief stint of daily gym visits after gaining the freshman 15 in college, and though it was successful I didn’t feel attached to working out that way. Did it work? Yeah, but was it fun? Nope.
Growing up I spent most of my free time in sports – from softball to cheerleading to soccer. I loved jumping on the trampoline in my backyard or playing tag with my siblings. Now that exercise is harder to come by organically and and free time is a precious resource, I found myself looking for a fitness routine that would challenge and excite me.
In recent months I put my focus into my mental health and perception. I tried to slow down, appreciate the seemingly small gifts I take for granted, and see where I could find beauty in gratitude in new places. Evan bought me a yoga membership for Christmas, but I didn’t start using it until May because I didn’t feel I was in the right headspace and I wanted to get full use out of it. Since May, I challenged myself to go once a day during the week. Aerial yoga made it really fun because it felt less like yoga and more like a beginner Cirque Du Soleil class! I was energized by the inversions, excited by the positions, and empowered by the improvements I saw in my flexibility and strength. I noticed a shift in my mindset when it came to exercising, and I started loving my body more because I saw my strength and perseverance in action every day.
I never gave yoga a real shot because I didn’t feel like it was “real” exercise. If it wasn’t one of the hardest, most challenging, high calorie burning things for me to do then it wasn’t worth my time. I never understood the true mental benefits of having a workout routine that strengthened your body and your mind until I started doing yoga consistently. I am calmer, I have more patience, and I look at the curves of my body with gratitude rather than disdain.
I compiled a list of items that help me have a safe and fulfilling yoga practice and keep me motivated to hold the pose and stretch deeper!
1. Manduka Yoga Mat – One of the best yoga mat brands out there. I’m looking to upgrade and I thought this mat’s pattern was beautiful. Consider where you will be doing yoga as hardwoods prompt a thicker mat, and whether you will walk or drive to class as you may want to consider the weight of the mat.
2. Leggings – You want comfortable and breathable leggings, especially if you plan to hit up some hot yoga classes. These are inexpensive and have great reviews on Amazon.
3. Yoga Towel – If you typically sweat a lot or fancy hot yoga classes, this is a must. A towel will keep your mat from getting slippery (and hazardous for other poses!). This towel is designed specifically for absorbing sweat, but a dish towel can work fine as well.
4. Sports Bra – A comfortable (and stylish) sports bra is the way to go. Pick one that has great reviews (like this one) if you can’t try it on, or be sure to try one on if you’re buying it locally. A bra that is too tight or irritating around tight areas will distract from your practice.
5. Teleties – I love love love these hair ties! You can purchase different sizes depending on whether you have thick or normal hair, and they look as great on your wrist as in your hair. They won’t pull your hair, give you headaches, or break so you can master your poses with ease knowing that your top knot will stay intact!
6. Yoga Tank – A light, breathable tank top will keep you cool during your class. Make sure to choose tops that are tighter fitting (like this one) so that you stay covered during inversions and won’t get distracted by a top that moves.
7. Water Bottle – Water bottles are a must for any workout, but this one by Contigo is my absolute favorite. The straw makes it easy for me to grab a quick sip whilst holding a plank so I get the most out of each class.
8. Foam Roller – After all that stretching, your body needs a little R&R. Foam rollers massage sore muscles and help loosen tight backs. My chiropractor is a huge fan of foam rollers, and I use mine daily to loosen up my tight IT band.
9. Stability Blocks and Strap – The stability blocks are great for poses where your balance is really tested and you want to stay safe, and they can help you master proper form while you’re still working on your flexibility. The strap is also great for helping you stretch a little deeper in areas where you need it.
You don’t “need” anything to practice yoga, but I found these items help me stay focused on my practice by eliminating distractions. Yoga is great for all ages, sizes, and flexibility levels and centers around your personal development rather than comparisons to others. I have found so much light, mental clarity, and freedom in yoga and I wanted to share that with all of you.
What is your favorite form of exercise?
Thanks for stopping by!