The Link Between Yoga and Meditation Explained: Benefits, How to Practice Both, and More

Yoga and meditation are closely tied. Each focuses on unity among the body, mind, spirit, and emotions through the rhythm of the breath. Both also focus on being present in the moment and letting go of worries about the past or the future.

What exactly is the connection between these two practices, and how can you get started with them? Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced yogi, read on to learn more about meditation and yoga, the benefits they can bring to your life, and how to set up your routine.

What Is Yoga?

It may seem basic, but let’s start with an overview of what yoga is. For many of us, when we think of yoga, we picture thin people in spandex contorting their bodies into strange poses on foam mats with peaceful expressions on their faces. But the truth is that yoga can look like almost anything you need it to. 

In simple terms, yoga is a system for establishing well-being in all areas of life: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. This system uses physical movement as a way of connecting with the inner self and uniting the mind, body, and spirit. This may include some specific poses and movements, but when it comes down to it, whenever you tune in and move your body in a way that makes you more connected with yourself and your body, it is yoga.

What Is Meditation?

Likewise, meditation is a practice that focuses on being present with yourself and your emotions in the moment. It may center around a focus on the breath as a way to connect with the body and block out the distractions of the world. Once you learn how to meditate, you aren’t worried about the past or the future. You are simply present in the moment without judgment.

Many people view meditation as something that only people who sit on top of mountains and take vows of silence do. But the truth is you can meditate anywhere and for any length of time. Closing your eyes and taking one intentional breath in and out is meditation. 

What Is The Difference Between Yoga and Meditation?

You may already have noticed some similarities in the descriptions we gave of yoga and meditation. The truth is that the two are inextricably connected. They both focus on being present with your body in the moment, free of judgment and tuned in to your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.

Done properly, any yoga routine should be a form of meditation. You focus on your breath as a grounding constant that unites you with your body and let go of any worries outside the present moment. In both practices, you focus on quieting the distractions of the world and listening to what your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit are telling you so you can live a happier, more grounded life.

Less Anxiety

Both yoga and meditation are highly recommended for people living with anxiety. Much of anxiety arises from worrying about the past or the future. That worry can spiral into a panic that feels impossible to control.

Both help you let go of those worries and focus on your present emotional state without judgment. They teach you to focus on your breath, the constant that grounds you throughout your life. When those panic moments occur outside of your meditation or yoga time, you have the tools to let go of that anxiety and focus instead on the constant, even drag of air in and out of your lungs.

Better Emotional Health

Maintaining emotional health isn’t as easy as it sounds. It can be hard to dial in to what you’re feeling and why and to process those emotions. The first step is to spend time focusing on what it is you’re feeling, and sit with that without judgment.

Both practices give you a dedicated, guided space to process those emotions. Taking ten minutes a day to be present with yourself in that way can bring to the forefront emotions you may have been tamping down or ignoring. Once you’re aware of those feelings, you can begin to work through managing them.

Better Health

It won’t come as a surprise that yoga can improve your health. A regular practice can help you become more flexible, lower your blood pressure, and help you lose weight. You’ll have better breath control and strength as well as a healthier heart.

A meditation and yoga practice can help control your health outside of your practice as well. People who practise yoga or meditation report that they’re more aware of what they eat and how it makes their bodies feel. They make better food decisions, which leads to a wide variety of health benefits. 

More Self-Awareness

It may sound obvious to say that yoga and meditation come with more self-awareness. After all, both practices focus on becoming more aware of your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual states. This self-awareness can come with a surprising number of benefits.

Greater physical awareness can help you become aware of problems that you might not have noticed before or that would have taken you longer to notice. This can help you catch medical conditions far earlier and seek treatment when they’re much more manageable. Greater awareness of your mental and emotional states can help you build stronger relationships, maintain better mental health practices, and develop better emotional intelligence.

Better Focus and Attention Span

In our fast-paced world, it can be difficult to focus on anything for more than a few minutes. You may find yourself at work wanting to check Twitter or Facebook every five minutes. During conversations, you may catch yourself thinking about what’s on your grocery list instead of what the other person is saying.

Both meditation and yoga center around focusing all your attention on the simple but constant flow of your breath. They require tuning out distractions and centering your focus on one thing for a long period. Working out these mental “muscles” will make it easier to focus on other tasks throughout your day.

Better Sleep

How many nights have you laid awake at night trying to get your brain to shut down and go to sleep? Have you ever had nights where you feel like you’re fighting against your body, trying to get it to drop off to sleep? Yoga and meditation can help you get to sleep faster and sleep deeper.

Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on a sleep schedule. Because yoga and meditation reduce stress, they can help you sleep easier at night. The practice of letting racing thoughts go will help you avoid those nights of lying awake trying to get your brain to quiet down.

More Self-Esteem

Every day, marketers bombard us with messages about what our bodies should look like and be able to do. We should be skinnier, have more muscles, have nicer hands or feet, have bigger chests, have better butts. Over time, we can start seeing our bodies only through the lens of all these flaws.

Yoga and meditation focus on the beauty and power already contained within your body. By establishing a regular practice, you can start to see your body through the lens of what it can do and how it’s getting stronger. The sheer beauty of being able to move your body and the power that it provides carrying you through the day is a wonder to behold, and practicing either can help you develop an appreciation for that beauty.

How to Start a Routine

Starting a yoga and meditation practice doesn’t have to be a two-hour daily affair. It can be as simple as setting up a ten-minute practice in the morning or evening. You can even meditate while you’re waiting on your coffee at the local café or while you’re folding laundry.

Getting involved at a yoga studio can give you a good introduction to how to go through a yoga routine. You can take the techniques you learn and do a few minutes of stretching and mindfulness each morning or evening. You can also find guided meditation apps to help you set up a practice of mindfulness. 

Start Improving Your Life Today

Practicing yoga and meditation can bring you several amazing benefits to your life. The two are inextricably connected, with the physical movement of yoga feeding into the mindful focus of meditation, and vice versa. Start with only ten minutes a day and you’ll love the difference.

If you’d like to get started on your yoga journey, come see us at London yoga studios and experience our warm and inviting community of like-minded people . We offer a variety of classes that can help you begin your journey of wellness.

10 Low Impact Activities That Make a Great Rest Day Workout

Discipline sets the best athletes in the world apart from the competition. However, they say the discipline to rest is just as important as knowing how to put in a good training session. 

Far too many people rest incorrectly. You see, allowing your mind and body to recover from intense physical training is about more than just taking a day to sit on the couch and let your muscles heal. It’s also about more than just refueling with the right nutrients. 

To maximize your body’s ability to recover from physical training, you must implement low impact exercise on rest days. 

Low Impact Activities for Rest Days

While the idea of exercise on your rest day may sound counter-intuitive, it’s actually the best thing you could do for your body.

As you probably know, in order to get better at your sport, you have to push your body through a process called progressive overload. The concept of progressive overload is relatively simple – you force your body to do a little bit more on a weekly basis. This adds up to big changes over time, yet is sustainable for long-term training.

However, pushing your body to be stronger, move faster, or work longer takes a physical toll, building up lactic acid in your muscles.

Giving your muscles rest days reduces lactic acid, gives them time to repair and keeps you from getting overly stiff and sore. It also keeps your blood flowing, which cuts down on inflammation in the joints, tendons, and ligaments. Taking a day off from working out also keeps your mind and mood healthy while cutting down on fatigue.

The question is: what kind of “active recovery” exercise will grant you these benefits without conflicting with your regular training or doing more damage?

Keep reading to find out.

1. Swimming 

For people who are comfortable in the water, there’s no better feeling than gliding through the water at an easy pace. In the pool you’re nearly weightless, which makes swimming one of the best low impact workouts for recovery days.

However, remember that you’re in the pool for an active recovery. You’re not there to set any lap records or see how fast you can swim a 500-meter race. 

The key to active recovery is moving your body without causing any more lactic acid buildup. Swim anywhere from 30-60 minutes, but remember to take it easy and enjoy yourself. To make it more beneficial, you can do some underwater laps and work on your lung capacity.

2. Yoga 

Yoga transcends time, culture, and gender. It’s been around for thousands of years and has been used for several purposes including spiritual connection, meditation, stress relief, muscle strengthening, weight loss, mobility improvement, and more. 

With such a diverse background, yoga smoothly transitions into a rest days with several benefits. Aside from being low impact, yoga helps improve your intrinsic muscle strength, especially throughout your core. 

Additionally, yoga has been proven to boost one’s balance, mobility, flexibility, and spatial awareness. As a rest day workout, yoga allows you to get your blood flowing and keep lactic acid from building up.

Finally, yoga is completely subjective to the user. You can base the intensity and difficulty of the session based on the desired outcome. As a rest day workout, a yoga session should work to stretch you out and promote as much recovery as possible.

3. Rowing Machine Workout

Rowing machines have been around for over a hundred years. While it’s been a pretty common feature in gyms around the world, it’s mainly been popularized by its repetitive use in Crossfit sporting events.

The machine mixes a low impact, full-body resistance workout with cardio and rhythm. You can use a rowing machine to absolutely destroy yourself during an intense training session or as a recovery day exercise that keeps your whole body feeling loose. 

The key is setting an easy pace and remembering that you’re there to recover. Many athletes end up over-training because they get caught up working harder than they should on rest days. Take it easy on the rower to allow your body this grace period to recover.

4. Water Aerobics

If you like the idea of being in the water but are terrible at swimming, consider enrolling in some water aerobics classes. You’ll still have the pool benefits of little to no impact on your joints, but you won’t have to worry about swimming lap after lap to get your time in. 

Instead, water aerobics focuses on improving balance and flexibility while reducing blood pressure. While you may feel out of place with the other members of the class, try to enjoy doing something different from your normal routine.

5. Walking

If you’ve ever been to Rome in Italy, you’ll have noticed a strange phenomenon occurring. The majority of their foods are centered around carbs (pastries, bread, pizza, pasta) and most Italians don’t attend gyms. Yet there are very few overweight people around. 

The reason is that many Romans do a significant amount of walking every day. There’s a tremendous amount of traffic in Rome; so, in some places, it’s simply easier to walk.

However, as an active recovery exercse, walking will do more than just keep you trim. It too will keep your blood flowing and your body from developing too much soreness from the previous day’s training session.

6. Cycling

Another common and convenient conditioning exercise involves jumping on your bike instead of hopping in your car. If the weather permits, opt to cycle to work, the store, or your friend’s house. 

The extra low impact movement will keep your joints and muscles loose while giving you enough physical activity to keep your mood and sleep pattern in the right place. 

If cycling outside isn’t an option, it may not be a bad idea to get a stationary bike for your home,vor hop over to the gym to use theirs. You could easily knock out some serious cycling exercise while listening to a book on tape or watching your favorite show on Netflix.

7. Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that has been practiced for physical, mental, and spiritual reasons for thousands of years. As a form of self-defense, physical exercise, and meditation, Tai Chi stands alone in terms of a rest day workout. 

It may sound too intense for a rest day, but Tai Chi is incredibly low impact and focuses more on controlling your own movement as well as the life energy or qi within your own body.

Its physical benefits include improved balance, bodily control, and spatial awareness, among many others. Additionally, as a rest day workout, it hits all of the requirements to help your body rest and recover while remaining active.

8. Mobility Workout

While you’ll find very few people who couldn’t benefit from mobility training, not everyone wants to practice yoga. For them, simple mobility exercises provide the best resting day exercise. However, solid mobility routines do incorporate things like yoga, pilates, and stretching. 

The idea behind a mobility workout is to improve your muscular flexibility as well and your joint mobility. These exercises should be low-stress, low-weight exercises that only challenge your range of motion, not your strength or endurance.

Sadly, a large number of sports injuries come down to poor mobility and inflexible/tight muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  

9. Bodyweight Resistance Training

Finally, depending on your sport and typical training routine, bodyweight exercises might be the way to go for the perfect active recovery workout. For example, if your regular day of training includes lifting weights, sprinting, or any other high-intensity training, then bodyweight exercises will provide a throttled workout for your day off. 

These lightweight movements will keep the blood flowing to the muscles and joints that need it to keep inflammation and lactic acid from building up.

However, if your body isn’t used to any kind of resistance training, busting out bodyweight pushups, squats, and pullups may cause more harm than good. Know your body and make sure you’re not pushing too hard.

 10. Go Dancing

Finally, feel free to approach your off-day routine with fun and opt for something outside of the gym. The next time you have a day off, pull the blinds and crank the music. 

Dancing provides a ton of health benefits and could be exactly what your body needs to move on your rest day without pushing it away from recovery. Remember, y low intensity exercise is mostly about moving and no form of moving is more fun than dancing. 

However, if you’re the free-spirited type who can easily get carried away on the dance floor, make sure you’re not overdoing it or you’ll need another recovery day tomorrow.

Mix It Up

You have enough regimented routine in your life. When it comes to your rest days, feel free to mix it up. Try new things every once and a while – you might just find a whole new passion!

However, if you’re looking for more advice and information on a healthy lifestyle, yoga, and eating well, check out the rest of our articles.

11 Strong Poses That Prove Yoga Burns Calories (Major Calories)

Yoga helps with weight loss and maintenance in several ways. The mindfulness of yoga can help you to slow down and make better food choices. It also helps you to sleep better, and there is a growing body of evidence that sleep helps keep our metabolism active.

Did you know that the practice of yoga burns calories? Not just hot yoga (bikram yoga), but all types of yoga Read on to learn about which poses to practice for burning calories and to get the most out of your yoga practice.

11 Strong Yoga Poses That Burn Calories

Power Yoga and Ashtanga are both practices that boost your energy, but there are poses in all classes that challenge your metabolism, burn more calories, and help you lose weight. Taking time each day to use the poses below will help you burn more calories, manage your weight, and live your best life. 

1. Chaturanga (4-Limbed Staff Pose)

For some, Chaturanga is the pose you move through to get to Up Dog. Chaturanga, or the 4 limbed staff pose, is also a great pose to stimulate your metabolism.

From a plank position, press your weight through your pointer finger and thumb, making sure your shoulders are above your wrists. Push through your heels to activate your legs. Pull your belly button into your spine.

While keeping your elbows close to your side, lower yourself down until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Breath into the pose for 5 long, slow breaths.

2. Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Crow Pose is an upper-body balance pose that forces you to engage your entire body. You can start in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), engaging your core and legs before lowering your self down into Garland Pose (Malasana).

From Garland Pose, place your hands on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Spread your fingers and press your weight into your pointer and thumb side of your hands.

Lean forward while working your shins toward the back of our arms. Keep your thighs close to your chest. Round your back while tilting your pelvis in and engaging your core.

Look to the front of your mat, lift onto the balls of your feet, and lean forward while exhaling and inhaling deeply. 

If this pose is difficult for you, start by only lifting one foot at a time until you can lift both. Crow pose is challenging both physically and mentally. You need to foster trust in yourself to master this pose.

3. Plank Pose to Vasisthasana (Side Plank)

Plank and side plank work the muscles of your core, arms, and shoulders. To get the most out of these poses, you want to hold each for five full breaths, move from plank to right side plank, back to plank, and then to left side plank.

From plank pose, shift your weight to your right-hand while extending your left hand into the air. At the same time, rotate your left foot to the top of your right foot. 

4. Paripuna Navasana (Boat Pose)

Boat pose is another full-body posture. If done correctly, the boat pose will work all the muscles of your body. Start in a seated position with your feet close to your hips and your knees in the air.

Engage your core as you tip backward and come to a resting position on your glutes as your body keeps a V shape. From here, extend your legs and straighten your arms over your head. Hold this pose for 10 breaths. 

Focus on extending your arms through your fingertips and extending your legs through your toes. 

5. Three-Legged Dog

Start in Adho Mukha Savasana (downward dog) and press into your hands to stabilize your shoulders. Engage your core and extend your right leg behind you. Reach through your heel and raise your leg as high as you can while remaining comfortable.

Take 10 full deep breaths, keeping your shoulders square to your hips. Make sure you do the pose on both sides. 

6. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)

From Tadasana, move your right foot about a 3rd of the way down your mat. Your right foot should be parallel to the back of your mat.

Bend your left leg so that your thigh becomes parallel to the floor. Do not let your knee move forward of your ankle. As you inhale, raise your arms to shoulder height.

Your hips and shoulders should be square to the side of your mat. Tuck your tailbone and engage your core as you turn your head to look over your right fingers.

Hold the pose for 10 breaths, then do the same pose on the other side.

7. Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III)

Warrior III is a full body pose that also focuses on your balance. From Tadasana, slightly shift your weight to your left leg. Engage your core and bring your hands to prayer position at your heart. Now raise your right knee to your chest.

To maintain your balance, find a focal point, maintain your gaze at that point, and engage your core. 

Hinge at your hips and move your upper body so that it is parallel to the floor. After you lower your upper body, extend your right leg out behind you so that it is parallel to the floor. Your toes should point to the ground and press through your heel.

You can now extend your arms over your head so that your entire body is parallel to the floor. Hold the pose for 10 breaths and then repeat on the other side.

This pose is challenging if you struggle with your balance. Bring your arms out to the side to make it easier to balance. 

8. Goddess

Turn to face the side of your mat, with your toes, hips, and shoulders all square to the side of your mat. From this position, turn your toes out 45 degrees.

Reach your arms over the top of your head and extend your body skyward. As you exhale, bring your elbows down, creating a goal post or cactus shape with your arms. Your hands should face out from your body.

Take a breath and exhale as you bend both of your knees, lowering your body down. Focus on keeping your knees open and back and be careful to not let your knees go over your toes.

Breathe for 10 full deep breaths. It’s normal to notice yourself rising and lowering with your breath.

9. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)

From Tadasana, inhale and exhale as you fold forward. As you inhale, drop your hips down to a position similar to sitting in a chair. Raise your arms above our head and take 10 breaths.

The key to the power of this pose is to keep your chest lifted and your core engaged. Extend through your fingers as your ground your feet into the floor. Keep your knees even and behind your toes.

10. Bridge Pose

Lie on your back, as you do in Shavasana/Savasana or corpse pose. Keep your gaze at the ceiling as you bring your heels towards your hips, with your knees pointing to the sky.

Engage your core and press your knees away from your body while lifting your hips. Your knees should stay parallel to each other, and your toes should point away from you. 

You can also move your shoulder blades together while interlacing your fingers and pressing your palms to the floor. Hold the pose for 10 breaths and then slowly lower yourself back to the ground.

If you would like to increase the challenge of this pose, raise one leg and then the other. Hold the raised leg as long as you can keep your hips even.

11. Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle)

From Warrior II, hinge at your hips and drop your right hand to the floor, allowing your left arm to rise above your body.

Press into your legs and engage your core. If this pose is challenging due to limited flexibility, you can place your hand on a block if it won’t reach the floor. To burn the most calories in this pose, do not rest your hand on the floor or block. Use your core to support your upper body.

Whichever yoga pose or practice you choose, the more you stay present, the more energy you will burn. Focus on engaging your entire body in the pose. 

Do You Need a Yoga Studio that Understands You?

Yoga helps burn calories, calms your mind, and leaves you feeling refreshed and recharge. Join us at our central London location to take your yoga routine to the next level.

We offer classes of all styles (yes, we offer hot yoga/bikram yoga). Try them all and find the one that works best for you. If your goal is weight loss, carve out 5-6 days a week to visit the studio. The more you practice, the faster you’ll start to see results.

9 Yoga Essentials: What to Wear and Bring to Class

Yoga is an excellent form of exercise and can come with a ton of mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional benefits.

If you’re thinking about taking up the practice of yoga, there’s no better way to start than to attend a yoga class. But if you’ve never been to a class before, you may not know what you should bring with you.

The basics that you need for attending a yoga class are comfy clothes, a water bottle, and an open mind. But there are a few other tools you can bring with you to make your practice better. Read on to discover the yoga equipment list of yoga essentials you need to gather before you attend your first class.

Comfortable Pants

One of the most important things you’ll want to have for a yoga class is a set of comfortable clothes that you can move in. That starts with a pair of stretchy pants. These can be the traditional flowing yoga pants if you want them to, but they don’t have to be.

Find a pair of pants that you’re comfortable in and that you can move well in. When you try them on, run through a few poses to make sure they fit well. They should be loose enough to be comfortable but not so loose that you feel like they’re going to fall off.

Supportive Top

Like your pants, you want your top to be both supportive and comfortable. You should be able to move in the top without worrying about it sliding up or down. You’ll have a difficult time focusing on mindfulness if you’re constantly adjusting your clothes.

Try to find a top that has built-in support for your chest. If you aren’t comfortable in tight clothing, that’s fine; look for something you can tuck into your pants. Your shirt should also be made of a light, breathable material that will keep you cool throughout the class.

Wire-Free Bra

If you’re a little more well-endowed in the chest area, you may also want to get a sports bra. You want to make sure the bra offers plenty of support, but you should try to avoid wires. Underwires are great for supporting you through everyday life, but they make it hard to move in class. 

Look for a bra that has a wide elastic band and a double layer of breathable fabric. If you can find adjustable straps, that’s ideal; sports bra straps will stretch out over time. Adjustable straps can also allow you to hoist the girls up and strap them down for your class. 

Yoga Socks

Many people prefer to practice yoga barefoot, and if that’s your preference, that’s fine. But you may want to have something covering your feet, especially in winter. Yoga socks are a great way to stay warm and keep your grip.

Yoga socks cover the arch and ankle on your feet while leaving the ball and heel of your foot bare. This will help you keep a grip on your mat during poses like downward dog and the warrior poses. Look for socks that hug your foot tightly and are made of a washable material. 

Water Bottle

Other than comfy, breathable clothes, one of the most important things you can bring to your yoga class is a water bottle, especially for hot yoga. Some yoga studios will provide water bottles at their classes, but it’s good to get into the habit of bringing your own. You’re going to be sweating a lot in class, and you need to make sure you stay hydrated.

If you don’t like drinking plain water, get a water bottle with an infuser basket. You can put fruit and herbs in the bottle to add some extra flavor to the water. Make sure your water bottle is comfortable to carry and holds enough to get you through a class. 

Yoga Mat

Many yoga studios offer yoga mats, and if you’re going to your first class, it’s fine to borrow one of those mats. But if you’re going to set up a regular yoga practice, you’re going to want a mat of your own. Not only will this personalize your practice, but it will also help you bring your practice back home. 

There are a variety of options you can choose from in terms of yoga mats. They come in different thicknesses, ranging from 1/16 of an inch (good for traveling) to ¼ of an inch (great for people with injuries or joint trouble). Pick a thickness that works well for you, as well as a pattern that draws you in and helps prevent slipping during hot yoga.

Yoga Blocks

Having yoga blocks around can help you modify yoga positions when you need to and support you as you’re learning to do new poses. These foam blocks are about a foot by six inches by three inches and are lightweight. They usually come in pairs and can come in a bright variety of colors.

You may also need other props and aids for your yoga class. Straps, self-massage balls, and other such tools can help you better your practice. It’s a good idea to attend a few yoga classes first to figure out what you’ll need.

Towel

Whether or not you tend to sweat a lot during a workout, it’s a good idea to have a towel around. Your hands may get slippery on the mat, and it’s nice to have something to wipe them off on. If you do tend to sweat a lot, having a towel around can help you keep sweat out of your eyes and off your mat, making your practice more comfortable.

Almost any towel will serve this purpose well, but you can get a designated yoga towel if you like. You probably want to go for a small towel to make it easier to use during class. But if you plan to take a shower at the studio, you may want to bring a full-sized towel along as well. 

Change of Clothes

Yoga clothes are great to work out in, but you may not feel comfortable walking down the street wearing them. Or you may be heading to work or a meeting after your class. In either case, you’re going to want an extra change of clothes with you.

If you’re planning on going somewhere after your class, you may also want to bring along some shampoo, conditioner, and soap. If you don’t want to haul around full-sized bottles, you can get travel bottles to tuck in your yoga bag (which we’ll get to in a moment). It’s probably a good idea to pack these bottles in a zip-top bag in case they start leaking.

Snack

After a hard workout, you may need something to snack on. You probably don’t want to eat a lot (or anything) before your class. But if you’re going anywhere after the class, you’re going to need something to eat before your next meal.

Go for snacks that are low in fat and oil and high in protein. Nuts or a protein bar may be a good idea. You may also want to grab a banana or a smoothie – they’re high in fiber and can give you a nice sugar boost.

Blanket

Having a blanket can be great for your yoga practice. If your class is focused on gentle, slow movements or has an extended savasana session at the end of class, you may want something to keep you warm and comfortable.

Having this simple element of comfort can help you gain a lot more from your practice.

Look for a lightweight blanket that’s still going to keep you warm. You want something you can easily wash, since you may be sweaty at the end of your practice. Keep it by your mat during practice for the relaxation session at the end of the class.

Bag

If you’re going to be toting around a change of clothes, shampoo and body wash, snacks, and a yoga mat, you’re going to need a bag to carry it all in. Your yoga bag can become your best tool in sticking to your yoga practice.

Look for a bag that has plenty of room to hold your bag and clothes and enough pockets to keep everything organized.

You want to look for a bag with a solid shoulder strap that’s comfortable to wear. And the design should be something that makes you happy so whenever you see the bag, you want to go to class.

Discover the Yoga Essentials

When you’re first setting up a yoga practice, the most important thing you need is a set of comfy clothes and a willingness to be present there on your mat. But having a water bottle, a change of clothes, a snack, and the other things we’ve mentioned here can make your practice go much better.

Having all the yoga essentials will make you feel much more well-prepared for your class.

If you’d like to get started with your own yoga practice, see us at Yoga London. We have classes for people at every level of practice, from beginners to experienced yogis.

Absolute Beginner’s Guide on Hot Yoga: Benefits, Safety, and Tips

The idea of performing complex yoga poses in an intensely heated room with added humidity may seem like an intimidating concept that makes you wonder “is hot yoga really good for you”.. However, with a little research, you’ll find that hot yoga really is good for you and is incredibly accessible to both expert and beginner yogis.

In fact, in addition to being a great choice for “newbies”, hot yoga comes with a wide range of benefits that can dramatically enhance your health.

If you’re considering signing up for your hot yoga class, read on for more information on its many benefits and what to expect.

The History of Hot Yoga

While it may seem like a western fitness craze today, hot yoga (also known as Bikram yoga) has long been seen as a form of meditation and connection to the universe.

The center of hot yoga, and any yoga practice, is a consistent focus on your breath that should be maintained no matter how intense the pose may be.

The Bhagavad Gita encourages the practice of yoga as a way to discipline the mind and center ones thoughts.

While your thoughts might be less than tranquil during those first few challenging poses, you’ll find that as you progress and focus on your breath work it will become easier and easier to slip into a state of zen. 

Today the meditational element of hot yoga will depend on where you practice. However, many of the traditional mantras are still a quintessential part of most yoga classes.

How to Prepare for Your First Hot Yoga Class

Before trying any new fitness class or exercise regimen, it’s important to first speak with your doctor to get the okay.

From here you may want to try a standard vinyasa yoga class to get associated with how a yoga class works, particularly if you’ve never attended one before.

Bikram yoga classes involve the same 27 poses no matter what studio you go to. This is why it may help to look up Bikram poses ahead of time to get a good idea of what to expect.

As you may have guessed, hot yoga class means lots of sweating. Drinking plenty of water the day before is a great way to stay hydrated during class and to avoid feeling dizzy or light headed.

It’s suggested that you drink up to a liter of water the day before. However, be sure to drink small amounts throughout the day as drinking a large amount of water in one sitting could lead to health problems. 

The Benefits of Hot Yoga

There are a number of benefits associated with hot yoga and what it can do for your body and your mind.

First, practicing the poses repeatedly will help build your flexibility while enhancing overall muscle strength.

Yoga is a great way to get in a strong workout without having to use heavy weights, which is ideal if you’re looking for a toned physique without wanting to bulk up.

As intimidating as it may sound, hot yoga actually makes yoga poses easier.

That’s because the heat relaxes your muscles increasing your flexibility. In fact, you may find that it’s easier to do some poses in a hot yoga class than it is to do them at home.

The process of sweating throughout your hot yoga class is also a great way to detox your body and get rid of any chemical build upon your body. 

This can reduce your chance of getting colds and can even leave you with glowing skin. 

Finally, sticking to a hot yoga practice can dramatically reduce your overall stress levels and inflammation.

What to Bring to a Hot Yoga Class

Most yoga studios will provide you with a yoga mat. But if it makes you more comfortable, feel free to bring your own.

Considering the temperature and humidity of a hot yoga class, it helps to wear clothes that are breathable and won’t make you overheat.

Avoid fabrics like cotton, that hold onto moisture.

You will also want to bring a full water bottle and two small towels, one to wipe the sweat from your body and another to wipe the sweat from your mat.

Using a yoga blanket over your mat is also a great way to avoid practicing on a slippery surface.

What to Remember During Your Yoga Practice

It’s easy to glance around a yoga studio and start to compare yourself to others, especially in the beginning.

It’s important to remember that each yoga practice is unique, and that the only person to compare yourself to is who you were in your last class.

Go at your own pace and listen to your body, especially when dealing with the intense environment of a hot yoga classroom.

If you feel light headed or overwhelmed, return to child pose or stop to have a drink until you feel better.

Remember, the original purpose of yoga is moving meditation. Use this as a time away from the stress and expectations of your day and focus on what your body is telling you.

Finding the Right Hot Yoga Studio for You 

While hot yoga comes with a number of benefits, it’s important to remember that not all yoga classes are created equally.

When looking for the right studio for you, you want to find an instructor that honors wherever you are in your practice while gently bringing you to your next stage of progress.

You also want a studio that kept clean and provides everything you need to truly focus on your yoga practice.

If you’re still looking for your new yoga home, we suggest checking out our blog for more information on classes and studio options. 

Consider it the next step towards being able to namaste your way. 

Serious Health Benefits of Yoga in the Morning

It is a scientific fact that morning people are overall happier and more satisfied with their life. If that doesn’t get you out of bed in the morning, maybe some yoga might help. 

Imagine waking up to see the sunrise, hear the birds chirping, and feel the tension leave your body as you start the day with a sun salutation. Embracing the day is just one of the many benefits of yoga in the morning.

There are many mental, physical, spiritual, and rational reasons to start your day with yoga.

Read on to see why you should consider making yoga part of your morning routine. 

Give You “Me Time”

Mornings are still and quiet, which makes it the perfect time to enjoy some peaceful “me time” practicing yoga. Everyone else is asleep so you can find a remote spot in your house or even in the backyard on a pleasant day.

Turn on light yoga or meditation music without being disturbed by the sounds of the day. 

If you have children, you can squeeze in private time before you have to attend to their needs. Your focus is on your morning practice. Remove the thought of chores, work, and obligations from your mind as you focus on your well-being. 

Recognize and appreciate this special moment where you can look inward. And start your day with positive thoughts by accomplishing your goals in the morning.

It is more difficult to find this opportunity during the day, so embrace your morning yoga practice as a precious opportunity for some personal time.

Start Your Day Calm and Focused

Morning yoga is good for setting the pace of the day. You, like everyone else, tend to rush through your routine without hesitation. This makes each day a race rather than a joy.

The world passes you by. The faster you go, the faster your life goes, and the less significant it becomes. By practicing yoga in the morning, you can tell your brain to take notice of the world around you. 

This brings mental clarity and focus to all that you do. You won’t feel like a machine making generic movements but a soul dancing freely to the songs of life. 

Get in a Good Mood

Starting your day with time for yourself while calming and focusing your mind will put you in a good mood, which is one of many reasons why it’s good to do yoga in the morning.

Your worries and anxieties will slip away as you have had a chance to reflect and remove negativity from your thoughts. This isn’t just pseudoscience. Exercise releases serotonin in the brain to relieve depression and induce gratitude.

This can also help you regulate your emotional response. It could assist with anger management, ease habits of frustration, and keep you more emotionally balanced. 

Gets You Motivated

For some people, waking up at the crack of dawn is a feat in itself. Imagine accomplishing a satisfying yoga routine to top off your morning. 

Yoga might make you feel like you can tackle any problem throughout the day. You will feel confident in yourself to face situations that you usually shy away from at work or in your personal life. 

If you present yourself a challenge first thing in the morning, it shows that you have the dedication needed to meet all your goals. So, you may try something else that you thought was impossible. 

Yoga is just the beginning of a transformation in lifestyle as you believe in yourself more and notice the benefits of doing so. 

Creates a Consistent Schedule

The best reason why yoga is good in the morning is that it can be done at the same time every day. 

During the day, it can be difficult to nearly impossible to rely on a consistent schedule. Things unexpectedly come up that can interfere with your yoga practice.  

Mornings offer a predictable time-frame that you can rely on. This will make it easier to practice yoga every day without creating the excuse that you do not have time. 

If you wait until the evening or nighttime, you may tell yourself that you are too exhausted. And if you try to do yoga when you’re tired, then you may not put all of your efforts into it. You will also have your day’s thoughts in your head.

It is best to do yoga when no interruptions or mishaps can lead you to cancel your plans. 

Gets Your Blood Moving 

Yoga isn’t just for your mind. Yoga health benefits also include your body. 

Stretching, twisting, and moving your joints and muscles increases the circulation in your bloodstream. This provides vital benefits to your organs and overall health. 

It increases the oxygen in your blood, which feeds organs and gives you energy. Poor circulation can lead to inflammation and chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes. 

After a long night’s sleep, it is essential to get your blood moving throughout your body first thing in the morning. It is a sort of “first breakfast” that helps your body to function optimally. 

Removes Stiffness from Joints and Muscle Pain

Your body stays in one position all night so that you may wake up with stiff joints and aching muscles. 

You can improve your flexibility while releasing the fluid built up in your joints at the same time.

Muscle pain can also be reduced as you strengthen them simultaneously. The great benefits of yoga for women is its low-resistant weight training. You don’t have to buy dumbbells or strain your joints by lifting more than your body mass.

Weak muscles mean that bones and joints do not have the support they need to align correctly. This can cause severe back and neck discomfort, especially in the morning.

Eliminate these symptoms by performing asanas (poses) that improve your flexibility and strength. Doing this in the morning saves you from a painful day ahead and limits your use of medications such as painkillers.

Yoga is the natural remedy to many of your body’s ailments.

Your Stomach is Empty

Working out with food digesting in your stomach is uncomfortable and inhibiting, especially during yoga. You do a lot of bending and twisting, which can upset your stomach if there is any food in it. 

Ancient Hatha yoga requires that all your food be digested, so you should not eat 10 to 12 hours before practicing. This means that the best time to perform yoga may be when you wake up before breakfast.

If your colon is blocked with food, then energy does not flow properly, according to Hatha. The body must be pure and clear from foreign substances to activate chakras and align with the divine spirit. 

Detox the Body and Boost Immune System

Stretching and moving the body into unique positions that you don’t do in normal activity releases toxins from the body. It does this by draining fluid from the lymphatic system and into the bloodstream.

This fluid called lymph contains white blood cells that fight infection, boost your immune system, and clean out waste in the blood.

Doing this in the morning is best as the body has been stationary for hours. Fluid builds up and should be released through stretching. 

Improve Digestive System

As you detox the body by removing waste and providing fresh blood to organs, your body performs better.

You may notice that you digest food easier. This avoids gas pains and stomach aches as your body processes food effectively. 

Your metabolism is also stimulated through deep breaths that offer oxygen to your entire respiratory system, leading to more detoxification effects. 

Fall Asleep Easier

The benefits of yoga performed in the morning follow you throughout the day and into the night.

You will notice that you are less stressed, have more energy, feel more accomplished throughout the day, and you will sleep better at night. 

Being in a meditative state also eliminates racing thoughts and anxiety that usually keep you up at night. Your mind and body will be prepared for a restful night’s sleep.

Knowing that you need to wake up for yoga in the morning will keep you from staying up late for no reason. You always have something to keep you disciplined. 

Long-term Benefits of Yoga in the Morning

To get the most health benefits of yoga in the morning, you must be devoted to your morning yoga practice. The more you do, the more you will see your results, whether that is losing weight, becoming more mindful, or just feeling good. 

The key to being persistent is to always challenge yourself with different styles of yoga, yoga poses and new asanas. Visit our Practicing Different Yoga Styles article to get started.

Hatha Yoga vs Vinyasa: Benefits, Differences, and How to Choose

Over 36 million people practiced yoga in 2016 making it the fasting growing activity in history.

However, most people jump right into yoga without knowing that they have options. The type of yoga you choose to do should reflect your goals and fit your level of experience.

Two of the most popular styles of yoga are Hatha and Vinyasa. Read on to understand the difference between Hatha yoga and Vinyasa yoga and the different levels of fitness and training required for each.

Hatha Yoga Origins

If you want to know what Hatha yoga is, you can find it in the ancient Hindi text of the Yoga Sutra. That is because it is the oldest form of yoga, and the original style that has influenced others. 

Patanjali wrote about how to perform yoga poses (asanas) in sync with breathing techniques (pranayama) in order to cleanse and purify the body. 

The series of poses are meant to release a divine energy (shakti) locked within humans. This is done by slowing moving energy through the 7 main chakras (energy points).

In Sanskrit, Hatha means “the force.” Broken down the syllable “ha” is the sun and “tha” is the moon. This resembles two opposing forces coming together in union. The female shakti rises to meet the masculine to join in universal enlightenment. 

Benefits of Hatha Yoga

All yoga styles offer a range of health benefits. Hatha yoga is no different, but it does have some unique qualities.

Since it focuses on holding asanas, Hatha a great for building balance. This takes focus and patience. 

Balance strengthens your core muscles like your abdomen and back. This makes it easier to build muscle in other parts of your body, since you can slowly challenge yourself to new poses. 

Deep stretching improves flexibility, but it also cleanses the body. It improves circulation in the blood, which fights infection and reduces inflammation. 

The lymphatic system is responsible for clearing fluid from joints and muscles throughout the body. The fluid carries white blood cells that absorb fatty acids and boosts the immune system. 

Hatha is a meditative practice that places focus on breathing. This brings more oxygen into your lungs and releases serotonin in the brain. Both improve your mood, reduces stress, and improve memory.

It can also serve as an antidepressant, help relieve anxiety, and reduce the chances of chronic diseases like cancer. A reduction in inflammation also lowers the risk of thyroid issues that cause diseases like diabetes.

Hatha Poses

Hatha yoga uses simple asanas that can be performed at any level and slowly made more difficult as you continue your practice. Here are a few beginner poses to start.

Lotus Pose

The lotus pose practices good posture while opening the hips and stretching the pelvis. Begin by sitting with your back in line with your tailbone. 

Bend both knees and bring your feet together in front of you. Slowly raise one foot and leg at a time to rest your ankles on the opposite thigh. 

You can use half lotus by only placing your dominate foot on your opposite leg. Keep your other leg on the ground underneath your leg.

Another option is to sit in an easy pose with both legs on the ground with both feet under the opposite leg. Or leave both legs loose and slightly away from your body not under either leg.

Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose is great for resting and relieving stress. It also elongates the back and spine, providing a beneficial stretch.

Sit on your calves with both legs under your bottom and your feet face up behind you. Your knees should be together but can be spaced apart if it is more comfortable. 

Slowly bend forward with your arms going over your head. Stretch your arms out away from your body. Place your forehead facedown on the floor. 

Hold the position for at least a few minutes. Come back to a sitting position slowly.

Warrior Pose

This pose helps in learning how to align your body while gaining basic balance. It also stretches your pelvis and thighs.

Bring one leg forward and bend the knee until it is just over your toes. Keep your toes facing forward.

The back leg should remain straight with the foot turned perpendicular to your front foot. Both heels of each foot should make a straight line from front to back.

Bring your arms up with your elbows next to your ears. Stretch them up to the sky. Hold for as long as it is comfortable. 

Vinyasa Yoga Origins

Vinyasa yoga also originated from Patajanli’s Yoga-Sutra but was modified into a flowing series, moving from one pose to the next without holding them.

The Sanskrit meaning of vinyasa is “to place in a special way.” The inhale and exhale of breath, called Ujjayi Pranayama, is performed in between poses to create a flow of both movement and breath. 

Vinyasa took on many forms and developed into other schools of yoga, like Ashtanga yoga. All forms of vinyasa focus on creating heat within the body by increasing the heart rate.

That is why Vinyasa is considered to be more difficult than Hatha yoga. It tends to take more endurance and strength to complete full sessions. Poses are repeated in repetitions rather than one at a time, so some believe it to be a form of power yoga.

Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga

The benefits of yoga classes are similar to Hatha yoga with some minor differences. 

Since Vinyasa moves quickly, it builds stamina and is seemingly more of a cardiovascular workout. So it tends to be for intermediate or advanced yogis rather than beginners. 

Muscles are challenged differently in Vinyasa yoga. Poses are held but transitions move at a rapid pace. Imagine the difference between lifting light weights quickly with a lot of reps and lifting heavy weights slowly only a few times.

The result is a varying muscle build. Vinyasa creates lean muscle while burning fat. 

It does, however, improve your balance like Hatha yoga. You still have to balance your self while moving from one asana to the next. 

Breathing techniques will be more difficult as you sync them with movements. This also has benefits for lengthening the spine and increases your flexibility as you sink into each pose. 

Vinyasa Yoga Sequence

Vinyasa yoga is performed with a sequence of yoga poses. There are some easy ones to start with like the sun salutation

Start in the mountain pose in a standing position with your hands together at your chest. Raise your arms over your head as you breathe in. 

Exhale and use your arms to guide you as you bend to touch the ground. 

Take one leg and step back while keeping both hands on the ground. Take the other leg back as well and come into a plank pose. Continue to inhale and exhale with each movement. 

Lower yourself to your stomach with your hands in front of your chest. Push your chest up and arch the back into cobra pose. 

Continue pushing up as you fold the torso and come into downward facing dog. Your legs and back should make a right angle. 

Step one foot forward back into a lunge then bring your second foot up to meet the other. Rise slowly one vertebra at a time until your head faces forward again. 

Return to the original mountain pose. 

Hatha Yoga vs Vinyasa Yoga (How To Choose)

Before you start any yoga practice, you should know what are the different types of yoga. You may get confused when you go to sign up for a class if is doesn’t give you a proper description. 

This guide should offer you some insight into which style of yoga will work best for you (e.g. improving strength and flexibility or your balance).

Hatha yoga is great for beginners since it doesn’t require you to be in great shape. You can take your time and learn asanas before intensifying your yoga practice. Hatha is slow, and you can take breaks without getting lost in the routine. 

Vinyasa is perfect for you if you prefer a workout and you are familiar with the asanas. These flowing classes move fast, so it is hard to keep up if you do not have some experience. It is best to learn the basics of yoga first.

Get Started With Your Yoga Practice

Once you decide between hatha yoga and vinyasa, it is time to choose a class to begin your practice. You can look online and sort available yoga classes by type. 

We offer both vinyasa classes and Hatha classes in London, so if you’re located in the Swinging City, drop by! You can also start yoga at home by visiting our blog for more yoga tips, poses, and yoga sequences. 

What to Expect and How to Mentally Prepare for Your First Yoga Class

In the UK, “yoga” was one of Google’s most searched-for words in 2016. Today there’s still a growing popularity surrounding yoga and its many health benefits.

Of course, fear of the unknown causes many people to pause before attending a class. 

If you’re brand new to the world of the yogi, you probably have a lot of questions. Knowing what to expect before your first yoga class can help you prepare mentally and physically. Once you feel more comfortable, you can bring it all into balance before attending your first class.

Prepare before you pose! Keep reading to learn everything you need to know as a first-time yoga student.

What to Wear For Yoga

Up to 460,000 Brits are participating in yoga classes each week. They attend in mix-matched shoes, pants, and tops, depending on their comfort.

Deciding what to wear to yoga depends on you. Of course, you don’t want to attend dressed in your favorite party gown. Here are a few tips so you can dress for yoga success:

Shoes

Yoga exercises are traditionally completed barefoot. In some cases you might notice yoga students with special socks or shoes. These are usually worn to protect an injury or due to a medical condition. 

Some people don’t feel comfortable taking their shoes off around strangers.

That’s okay! Consider grabbing yoga socks before your first class. These special socks feature non-slip grips at the bottom. 

The grips will cling to the mat, preventing your feet from slipping around. 

Before your first yoga class, try practicing a few beginner’s poses on a mat. See if you’re comfortable barefoot. If you feel like you’re slipping around, consider grabbing a pair of yoga socks before your first official yoga lesson. 

Pants

There are many styles of yoga pants you can try, but you don’t necessarily need to purchase a pair just to attend yoga classes. Instead, grab a pair of your favorite exercise pants, leggings, or shorts.

Avoid pants that don’t stretch. Denim jeans and other stiff fabrics can make the exercises difficult to complete.

After your first class, assess your comfort while performing the various exercises. You might need to choose pants that are shorter, longer, or looser before your next class. If your pants were falling down each time you stretched, grab a pair of yoga pants with a good waistline. 

There are plenty of stores, including Walmart and Target, that sell athletic apparel.

Or you can visit a specialty retailer like LuLuLemon to find what you’re looking for. Remember, your comfort comes first!

Tops

Instead of loose-fitting or baggy workout shirts, look for a fitted top. Otherwise, bulky shirts will slide toward your shoulders every time you bend over.

Spoiler alert: you’re going to bend a lot.

Consider grabbing a sleeveless top, which allows more freedom as you move your arms and shoulders. 

Wear a sports bra or whatever bra you prefer for workouts underneath.

What to Bring

Today there are over 4,659 yoga and pilates studios in the UK. Together they generated £858 million in 2018. So what do you bring with you as a first-time yoga student?

Really, the only things you need to bring as a first-time yogi are your body and positivity. For some people, stretching the body in new ways for the first time feels challenging. That’s why it’s important to maintain an open mind during the beginning of your to yoga nirvana.

Here are a few items to consider bringing to your first tip to the yoga studio.

Mat

Most yoga studios don’t expect first-time students to have a yoga mat with them. Instead, they might let you borrow a mat, or lend one out for a few dollars.

Once you continue going to class, however, you might want to grab your own mat. With your own, you can also exercise and practice at home between classes. 

There are plenty of low-cost mats available at local retailers.

If you’re serious about becoming a yogi, however, a high-quality mat is a great investment.

Look for a mat that promises long-term durability. Otherwise you’ll end up buying another one within a few months. 

You’ll also want a mat that offers good-traction. If you’re worried about putting too much pressure on your hands, knees, or feet, consider purchasing a thicker mat, too. 

Attending your first class will help you get a better idea of what you need in a mat.

Water Bottle

It’s important to remain hydrated. Feel free to bring a bottle of water with you to class. If you’re attending hot yoga for the first time, you’ll definitely want a refreshing drink of water to cool down.

Towel

Some of us sweat more than others. Consider bringing a towel with you to keep the sweat out of your eyes. You can also use a towel to clean off your mat (especially if you’re renting one).

Other Items

As you develop your skills as a yogi, you might decide to add props to your exercise routine. Some studios will provide these for you, including blankets, blocks, and straps. In time, you might want to buy your own so you can continue practicing at home. 

How to Prepare

Now that you’re geared up, let’s talk about preparing to pose!

These tips can help you head in with clear expectations for beginners. 

Consider visiting the yoga studio 10 or 15 minutes before your class starts on your first day. This is a good chance to introduce yourself to the yoga teacher (a respectful way to introduce yourself is to say “namaste”), ask any questions, and discover the environment. 

Here are a few tips to help you prepare beforehand:

Know the Pose

The first time you attend a yoga class, the poses can appear difficult, if not bizarre. Thankfully, there are many common poses for beginners (e.g. corpse pose, child’s pose, etc.) that you can research online.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to attempt these poses before class starts if you don’t want to. For now, try learning which poses match which names.

This can prepare you to move into the right position when the instructor cues the next pose. 

Avoid Heavy Eating

When we move around a lot, our stomach contents move around too. If your stomach is full, you might start to feel sick during your first class. 

To avoid this, make sure not to eat a heavy meal before your first yoga session. Instead, eat a light snack, such as peanut butter and apple, so your body has the energy it needs.

Introduce Yourself

If you decide to head to class early, introduce yourself to the instructor and let them know you’re new. They’ll know to step in and help during class if they find you’re struggling with the new positions. 

Warm Up

Arriving to class early also gives you the opportunity to stretch out while everyone arrives. You can use a few simple exercises you already know to warm up. Or you can ask the instructor if they have any suggestions before class officially starts.

What to Expect

During your first yoga class, you’ll move from one pose to the next. Some sessions will focus on balance and back ends. Others will prioritize spine-strengthening exercises. 

A few poses to research before your yoga class include:

  • Warrior one
  • Child’s pose
  • Warrior two
  • Triangle pose
  • The chair pose
  • Downward facing dog

During class, the teacher will demonstrate each pose before prompting you to follow. 

You’ll work muscles with each pose you didn’t even know you had! It can take a little time to get used to stretching the body in new ways.

The teacher might walk around throughout the class and adjust people. Remember to stay positive during your first yoga class. Don’t feel bad if the instructor corrects how your hands or body is positioned. It takes time and help before you can perfect your form.

It’s also important not to judge yourself based on what others are doing. Some students have years of practice under their belt. Like you, they wondered “what will happen during my first yoga class?” With time and practice, you’ll develop the same skill they have.

At the end of class, the teacher will finish the session with corpse pose, or savasana. For this pose, you’ll lie down for about five minutes while focusing on your breathing.

Mindful breathing is an important component of yoga as well. Known as pranayama, mindful breathing can keep you relaxed as you move from one pose to the next. 

After savasana, thank your instructor and have that sip of water.

You’re a Yogi-to-Be: What to Expect for Your First Yoga Class

Now that you know what to expect, you’re ready to stretch out and practice yoga like a pro! Your first yoga class might feel challenging at the start, but you’ll get the hang of it. Just take a deep breath and practice your mindful breathing and seated mediation.

Ready for your first class? Check our schedule to find a class near you!

Feel the Heat: 7 Interesting Facts About Bikram Yoga

As health and fitness continue to come to the forefront of modern culture, more and more people are becoming aware of yoga.

People now realize the numerous health benefits that come with practicing yoga regularly and want in on its secrets. But, did you know that there are 8 separate types of yoga?

Some focus more on the length of the pose, some focus more on copious amounts of poses in a short timeframe, and some focus on the breathing more than anything else.

Possibly the most strenuous of them all is Bikram Yoga.

Here are 7 super interesting factoids about Bikram and why so many people swear allegiance to it.

1. It Gets REALLY Hot

While most people that have heard of Bikram Yoga know it’s nicknamed “Hot Yoga”, they don’t realize how hot a Bikram class can actually get.

Generally, you can expect a Bikram Yoga class to last 90 minutes long and reach upwards of 100 degrees with around 40 percent humidity. That means that you’re standing in 3-figure heat for an hour and a half.

Bikram is not just about giving you physical benefits, it’s also about mental strength — and you’re going to need every inch of it. 

The main test is to not go for a drink of water or wipe the sweat away with a towel (more on that in a moment).

For now, you’re solely focused on bettering your mind and spirit through the harsh elements.

2. Teaches How to Cope with Stress

As previously mentioned, Bikram yoga forces you to prioritize your mental strength by preparing yourself for the tough 90-minutes ahead.

However, as soon as you’re 30 minutes in, all that preparation goes out the window and you’re forced to make real-time decisions.

Should I take a drink of water? Should I grab my things and leave? Am I even capable of doing this?

Variations of these thoughts are bound to pop into your head, but it takes a mentally strong individual to force that stress aside and find inner peace instead.

Such is the way of life: in a world that’s pushing you and pulling you in different directions, you can either run from your problems or face them head-on!

3. Rids Your Body of Toxins

Many people look at Bikram yoga and wonder is it really necessary to force someone to sweat THAT much? In short: yes, it is.

There are many unwanted toxins that creep into your body, such as excessive amounts of salt. The best way to rid yourself of those toxins is through sweatin’ it out.

If you find no other peace while sitting in the sauna yoga class known as “Bikram”, take solace in the fact you’re ridding your body of harmful minerals.

4. Lessen Your Chance of Injury

One of the most well-known facts of yoga as a whole is its ability to help speed your muscle recovery.

But Bikram yoga takes that a step further with the heat factoring in. The heat helps your muscles to loosen more and elongate into the poses for a further stretch.

Your muscles and joints will never feel better than when in the sauna, as it lets them operate at the temperature they were meant to. Have you ever wondered why your joints hurt when it’s cold? Now you know!

This allows your blood to pump more freely and give yourself more of a workout than in a typically-cooler gym temperature.

No such worry in a Bikram yoga class, where the instructor is purposefully cranking up the thermometer and letting the glass fog up from the humidity.

5. Great for Your Skin

Have you always wanted to have skin that glows, but haven’t been willing to drop huge amounts of money on skincare products to do so? You’re not alone.

Thankfully, Bikram yoga can help you achieve the same goal.

Due to the high heat conditions and rigorous sweating, your dead skin will be no more.

Gone are the days of applying aloe and cocoa butter to your dry spots 2-3 times a day. Just do Bikram yoga 1-2 times a week and you’ll achieve the same result. 

It’s worth noting that you’ll want to be diligent about cleaning your yoga mat consistently after Bikram yoga. 

6. Don’t Eat Within 2 Hours Before a Bikram Class

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make before going into a Bikram class (besides drinking so much water you’ll need to urinate constantly mid-class) is eating within 2 hours before the session.

Make sure to eat something light before going in, but save the entrees for either 2 hours before or an hour after class.

Having a full stomach will make you uncomfortable and also restrict your muscle motion. It could also lead to stomach pain; the room will be hot enough already, so be courteous to your fellow yogis.

Most importantly, be sure to have some form of electrolytes ready-to-roll after the class concludes.

7. Refuse to Wipe… the Sweat Off

Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually a bad idea to wipe the sweat off of your body while in a Bikram class. 

The sweat is there to try and keep your body as close to a normal temperature as possible. By wiping the sweat off, you’re wiping off the only AC you have access to during class.

If it’s getting into your eyes, that’s one thing; otherwise, try not to wipe off any sweat and battle through it instead!

Bikram Yoga: a Yoga Practice Revelation 

Now that you know a lot more about Bikram yoga, it’s time to give it a go for your first trial… after that, you’ll be hooked!

Be sure to read this article on yoga terminology for all you beginners out there to familiarize yourself with the terms.

Check back with Imcentered.com frequently for up-to-date articles on helpful yoga information and trends!

For the Momma-to-Be: 8 Things to Know About Yoga During Pregnancy

Practicing yoga during pregnancy can be a beautiful experience. Because your body is going through a variety of changes, you often are experiencing added mental and physical stress.

The breathing techniques and poses incorporated in yoga can be a great help at not only managing stress but also nurturing your body. Prenatal yoga is specifically designed to meet your physical and emotional needs at every stage during your pregnancy.

During this time in your life, it’s important to prioritize your health and yoga can be a great way to do so.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about doing yoga during pregnancy.

The Golden Rule Of Yoga During Pregnancy

The most important rule of doing yoga during pregnancy is to make sure you are not straining, overstretching, or compressing your abdomen during the practice. You have to be aware of your body and the movements you are doing.

If you begin to enter a posture and feel any discomfort, you should stop immediately and ask your instructor for potential pose modifications. You want to avoid any closed twists and any postures that have you lying on your stomach.

You’ll also want to avoid postures such as Navasana or any deep backbends. And you will also want to avoid any inversions unless you are an experienced yogi.

While you are pregnant you’re more likely to strain or pull connective tissue due to a specific hormone, called relaxin, that your body is releasing. 

Practicing During Your First Trimester

At each stage of pregnancy, your body has different needs. By learning about each trimester you are able to modify your yoga practice to fit these specific needs.

Your first trimester is known as being the most delicate of phases in pregnancy because the fetus is working on attaching to the uterus wall. This time is also crucial to the formation of the placenta.

Because the first trimester is so delicate, you may wish to speak with your doctor about the risk of physical activity. If you do decide to practice during this time in your pregnancy, a gentle and nurturing practice will be best.

Lying On Your Back

Supine postures or postures involving laying down on your back can sometimes need to be avoided during pregnancy. Some women experience a sensation of dizziness or nauseousness while laying on their back that is caused by the compression of a large vein.

This vein, called the vena cava, carries deoxygenated blood from your lower back to your heart. Instead lay on your left side, or prop yourself up on a slight incline.

To make this posture extra restorative, place a pillow in between your legs and also one under your head.  

Take Wider Stances

While practicing yoga during pregnancy, it’s important to make space for the baby in your postures. This will help to prevent uncomfortable compression that often accompanies deep forward bends.

When practicing forward folds, and postures like down dog, consider taking a wider stance with your legs. Also trying things like placing blocks under your hands may also help stretch your back and alleviate pressure on your belly. 

Make Use Of Props

To go along with the last mentioned tip, don’t be afraid to make use of yoga props to make your practice easier. You may notice throughout your pregnancy that your balance gets a bit thrown off by your growing belly.

This is normal, so don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t hold that tree pose as steady as you could before. Instead, consider practicing near a wall for added support if needed.

Add in yoga blankets for extra support and blocks to give you some relief and prevent you from being wobbly. 

Stay Hydrated

If you are practicing yoga at a traditional studio, you may hear the instructor encouraging students not to drink water during the class. In many practices of yoga, drinking water is seen as a distraction and way to put out the inner fire created by the practice.

However, if you are practicing while pregnant it’s important that you stay hydrated. Listen to your body and make sure to drink water when you feel like you need it. 

Connect With Your Breath

One of the most important aspects of yoga, no matter what stage in life you are practicing, is the breathwork. Breathwork becomes even more important when you are practicing while pregnant because it can be a helpful tool during labor.

Practice deep smooth breaths that are easy to maintain. During your exhales, focus on relaxing the body and mind.

By mastering this practice before your big day, you’ll make a strong mind-body connection that will help ease tension and stress while you’re giving birth.  

Choose The Right Spot To Practice

When picking the perfect spot to set your mat, while at home or in a studio, keep in mind the airflow. During pregnancy, your body doesn’t regulate its temperature in the same way.

So you may notice you are quicker to overheat. You can help this by practicing near a door or window that is getting plenty of airflow so you receive a bit of a breeze.

Speak with your instructor about your pregnancy and see which spot in the class they recommend. 

Listen To Your Body 

Most importantly, when practicing yoga during pregnancy you have to listen to your body. This will ensure that you prevent injuries and get the most out of your practice.

This is not the time to better yourself as a yogi and is instead the time to nurture your body. So ask your instructor about modifications when you feel like you need them.

Ultimately, this practice should be something that calms your mind and relieves tension in your body since it is working so hard.

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