Is Yoga Simply Stretching?

What usually comes with this myth is the implied notion that “that really can’t be much of a workout…” or “why would I pay money to do what I can do on the floor of my living room?” I get it. It can be hard to understand the difference between yoga and the stretching you do before practice or after a run.

Because, often, when you think about stretching, that’s exactly what you think of: hanging over your legs after a bike ride or touching your toes while watching TV. The truth is, there’s a whole lot more that goes into yoga than just lengthening your muscles. Yoga truly is an active process. It helps you practice mindfulness, live in the present, and increase your self-confidence—among many other benefits!

But for those of you asked to defend yoga to uninformed outsiders, it can be tricky to nail down the differences between yoga and stretching.

So, here are a few key differences between stretching and yoga:

  • Stretching is solely focused on flexibility. Yoga is a complete body, soul, and mind practice.
  • Stretching usually feels like something to rush through before getting to the next activity. Yoga brings relief, connection, and a sense of peace
  • Stretching simply lets you feel productive. Congrats, you checked that box. Yoga allows you to feel connected—to your mind, to life, and to others.
  • Stretching lets you stop before you become uncomfortable. Yoga asks that you stick with the uncomfortable sensations, pushing deeper and creating growth.

That being said, there certainly is a stretching component to yoga. The difference is that, while stretching certain muscles, you simultaneously engage others to maintain joint stability.

I’d also love to share a few tips to increase your stretching experience:

Pay close attention to what your body needs, not what you want. Rather than thinking “I need to touch my toes NOW,” explore what it feels like to ease slowly into different postures.

  • Keep small bends in your knees to avoid hyperextension.
  • Focus on your breathing to help you move deeper into your muscles.

But don’t just take my word for it. Come try out a class or two and start to see the benefits yoga offers beyond “just stretching.”

photo courtesy of Shannon Austin

Is Yoga a Religion?

Walk into any gym today, and many schools, and you’ll see yoga classes on the schedule. There’s no doubt that yoga has become mainstream over the past decade.

For many people, yoga is purely physical exercise, focused on mastering breath and alignment. But because of yoga’s ancient history of deep meditative, spiritual, and mystical roots, it’s often misidentified as a form of religion. Parents and individuals of many different faith backgrounds wonder how yoga can sit alongside their belief system.

The difficulty with this debate is that yoga is such a broad term and that there are so many different types of yoga classes.

But, regardless, the truth is yoga does not follow one religion. That’s because it does not require ideology, belief systems, or compliance.

That being said, yoga absolutely does have a spiritual component.

Becoming spiritual simply means working toward becoming oneself. Just like a tadpole turns into a frog or a chrysalis into a butterfly, we are broken humans’ work toward becoming whole. Yoga is the science of the Self. Through techniques such as meditation, asanas, breathwork, and focused awareness, yoga helps us understand our inner world.

While there are components of Buddhism and Hinduism that worked into yoga practices, practicing yoga does not make you a Hindu or Buddhist. It’s simply a doorway to a more meaningful life – whatever that means to you. Yoga offers perspective and insight into who you are and how you are seen in this world. It naturally gravitates toward a healthier lifestyle as you lean toward wellness in a variety of ways.

Yoga truly is about creating harmony between your body, mind, and soul. While mantras and chants are sometimes used to awaken the dormant potential of consciousness that resides within you, these practices are not required to benefit from yoga.

As I’ve said a million times, when you walk into our studio you are welcome to take what serves you and alter as needed to make the practice yours.

By all means, do it your way. Find a style of yoga that suits you. Identify yoga instructors that teach in a way you enjoy. And remember: yoga is about inner exploration – not outer worship.

photo courtesy of Shannon Austin

Is Yoga just for Chics?

Ummm NO.

One of the most prevalent yoga myths is that yoga is only for women. This is honestly one of the craziest myths – especially considering that ancient yoga was a male-dominated practice. It was created for 14-year-old boys people!! Women were not even able to practice it. Now that being said, the West has changed yoga in a plethora of ways; some may say it better, some may say it has lost its way.

I digress…

Why do men believe this idea that yoga is just for women? I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with mainstream media highlighting women in fancy yoga poses. I see why men have the idea it must be for skinny young chics but come on, we know what you see in social media is not reality.

A few other reasons they may have not boarded the yoga train: yoga isn’t a good enough workout for men; it’s too touchy-feely; you have to be flexible beforehand, and men’s bodies aren’t naturally built for these poses.

Let me make this very clear: yoga offers a tremendous array of benefits for everyone. That certainly includes our dudes.

Unfortunately, this myth leads to a disappointing statistic: of the 20 million Americans who practice yoga, less than 18% of them are men. At Yoga Fever, we have plenty of men who show up on their mats day after day. But if you’ve never given it a try, I urge you to read on to discover the many benefits of overcoming this myth. Then, pop in to try your first yoga class!

3 Great Reasons to Give Yoga a Try

Yoga extends your muscles’ range of motion: Men typically target a select group of muscles at the gym, including hamstrings, glutes, abs, and shoulders. However, these muscles can only be trained so far. And, when exercised too heavily, they can become injured. However, yoga uses your natural body weight and resistance to build lean muscle mass, which improves blood flow and helps your muscles recover faster. I highly recommend complementing your gym exercises with a regular yoga practice.

Yoga provides a full spectrum of health: Unlike most male fitness regimes, yoga views health as more than visible muscle strength. And that’s because yoga strengthens more than just the physical body. It also teaches you to calm your mind and open your heart, leading to pain-free movement, increased flexibility, and decreased symptoms of anxiety, depression, and rage.

Yoga melts away your damaging competitive spirit: While this is certainly common in women too, men are often especially haunted by an intense spirit of competition. Yoga teaches you to keep your eyes – and focus – on your own mat. All that is asked of you is that you show up willing to respect the needs of your body, knowing that your worth has nothing to do with the person next to you.

Tips for Men Starting Yoga

Don’t force the movement: Many men have a gift of strength, but a tendency to work their body too hard, ignoring pain and discomfort. When you step on your mat, I encourage you to identify the difference between sensation and pain, learning when to modify to protect your body.

Focus on what’s working: You may not feel comfortable in certain poses, but powerful and masterful in others. Know that yoga is a practice where you have permission to take what you need. There will be no drill Sargent barking orders or requiring you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with!

Set aside your competitive spirit: As I mentioned before, know that you might not be the best yogi in the room. It’s time to get accustomed to that. The only thing you should be worried about is improving your own practice. And, sometimes, you may have to take a step backward before making progress.

Dump your belief that you must already be flexible: Thinking you have to be flexible to try yoga is like saying you have to be in shape to go to the gym or know how to cook to take a cooking class. The truth is, practicing yoga regularly will help you become more flexible over time.

Yoga truly is a strong, energetic, and challenging workout. But too many men never make it past that first-class or even show up at all. You may enter your first class as a skeptic, but I promise if you give it a few tries you’ll leave a sweaty convert! Oh, and one more tip—— yoga will improve your golf game by a mile. Now……who’s with me?

photo courtesy of wandering soul collective

Am I too old to start a yoga practice?

When we picture yoga, we often make the mistake of calling to mind images of the thin, flexible, young women plastered on magazine covers and social media feeds. This leads many people to believe the myth that you must be young to practice yoga; that yoga is somehow for some people but not for others.

This is a misleading representation of the true image and intent of yoga. Yoga is for all. In fact, the word yoga literally means ‘union.’

The truth is: yoga is a very accessible practice that nearly anyone – at any age or condition- can practice. It’s a matter of taking what you need, finding the right class and instructor fit, and using your props liberally.

Take the risk and step out of your comfort zone, knowing that this is not a competitive space. It’s okay to move at your own pace.

Because, how could anyone be too old or too young to better their life? Common benefits of yoga, and those that may be especially appealing to older yogis, include:

  • Improved posture
  • Improved circulation
  • Better detoxification of lymph fluid & waste
  • Increased joint lubrication
  • Better balance
  • Increased concentration
  • Greater flexibility
  • More sound sleep

So, for those of you who consider your age a barrier to trying yoga, it’s time to change your mind!

3 reasons to give yoga a try, despite your age

Yoga includes much more than physical movement: Yoga is about making a connection between your breath and the way your body works. It encourages playfulness. It builds community and connection to an ancient lineage, and so much more!

You can modify your practice: You can easily vary your style of practice to adapt for conditions in your body – including practicing with a chair or other form of support. You might also become more interested in the meditation and breathing practices of yoga. Find a teacher with an inviting language, rather than a competitive one.

It might make you feel younger: The benefits of a regular yoga practice strengthen not only the body but also the mind. Yoga can help you recover from injury and boost balance so you avoid falling. But it also helps you learn to breathe through stress, leading to less wear and tear on your body and mind.

Yoga can truly be a fountain of youth. As you become more connected to life, you’ll realize youthfulness has more to do with the spirit than the body. Though your practice may appear slower to others’ eyes, you’ll experience plenty of change inside. You’ll become more tolerant, mentally-flexible, focused, and respectful of your body.

Some of the greatest lessons learned through yoga are to listen to your body, progress at your own pace, and let go of judgment and criticism.

I’ll end with this: you are only as old as your thoughts.

*Any physical elements of yoga depend on your physical status. If you’re recovering from an injury or suffer from any specific conditions, you’ll want to first check in with your doctor for approval and possibly schedule a one on one private yoga session versus a group class.

10 Reasons Why we Step on our Yoga Mats

If you’re new to yoga or have never practiced before, you may be wondering: why the heck do people submit themselves to this crazy yoga practice? And if you’re a seasoned yogi, it’s always worth reminding yourself exactly why you step onto your mat each day.

Most people start practicing yoga hoping to gain a combination of flexibility, strength, and stress relief. But most yogis experience a change of heart regarding why they do yoga – most often pointing to self-compassion, spirituality, and community as the lasting benefits.

Let’s look at 10 different reasons why people do yoga, starting with the physical and moving into the deeper reasons.

1. Yoga provides better flexibility and mobility. Over time, even the stiffest muscles can stretch and lengthen. But one of yoga’s biggest strengths as an exercise form is the functional flexibility it offers to make it easier to complete everyday movements – such as kneeling, bending, or reaching.

2. It builds full-body strength. Yoga is a full-body workout. In any given class, you’ll touch on just about every muscle group in your body with both long, static holds, and fluid, dynamic movement. By supporting your own body weight and intentionally pulling each muscle up and in, you’re building functional strength right where you need it.

3. Yoga relieves stress. Yoga balances your body, mind, and nervous system, helping you relieve tension, ease your frantic mind, and steady your breath. Perhaps most importantly, it forces you into mindful awareness of the way you react to difficult situations, preparing you to respond more positively in the face of future stress. Read more about relieving anxiety through the power of the breath here: The Power of Yogic Breath to Relieve Anxiety

4. It detoxifies your body. Twisting poses and backward bends help give your body’s natural rhythms a boost. When you move in these poses, you squeeze your organs, pumping fresh blood throughout your body and removing waste from your cells.

5. Yoga reminds you to breathe. In class, you’re continually reminded to inhale deeply and exhale slowly, allowing you to notice when your breath is suffering – whether from physical exertion or emotional toil. I can’t tell you how many times this practice has helped me cool down off my mat – either by offering physical relief or preventing me from saying or doing something I would regret.

6. It helps increase concentration. I believe most of us today have concentration troubles, resulting from this digital age and the many tasks constantly tugging us in different directions. Yoga teaches you to continually observe your body, breath, and emotions. It focuses your mind on one pose at a time – often for much longer than you’d prefer! Over time, this practice can increase your ability to focus off the mat – boosting creativity and energy.

7. Yoga increases self confidence. Beginners and experts alike struggle, sweat, and fall over quite often in yoga class. But, guess what? No one is here to judge you on your performance. So, learn to laugh at yourself and keep showing up on your mat. Because, dedication to your practice will bring improvement – even if it’s not in the way you expected.

8. It helps you live in the present. If you spend much of your days planning, worrying, or regretting your actions, yoga can help you unplug and focus on what’s going on in your body and mind in this moment. Give it a try if for no other reason than setting technology aside for 75 minutes. Through breathwork and experience, you’ll learn to live in the present off your mat too.

9. It encourages playfulness. How often as adults do we get to practice new things, like balancing on our head or flipping upside down? Yoga brings you back to that child-like mind, where you explored and approached new situations with curiosity and playfulness, rather than anger and ego.

10. Finally, yoga builds community and connection to an ancient lineage. When you practice yoga, you become part of a four thousand year old tradition. You’ll discover a multitude of tools for enriching your lives – from meditation to health tips, and much more. Yoga can provide an amazing opportunity to discover new friendships, teachers, and communities. I can tell you that I’m continually inspired by the teachers and students who walk through these doors.

The truth is that yoga is not about simply changing your brain or your body. It transcends those goals and helps you connect to what you already have – and who you already are.

So, why do you practice yoga? I’d love to hear some of the reasons you step onto your mat each day!

Common Yoga Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Last week we covered seven basic, overarching ways to avoid yoga-related injuries. Now, let’s dive deeper into some of the most common body parts that yogis injure – and learn practical ways to protect yourself.

Hamstrings: One of the most common body parts that can get injured due to yoga is your hamstrings. Forcing your legs straight into any pose – whether you’re standing, sitting, or lying down – can damage your hamstring muscles. This kind of injury often builds up gradually, turning into hamstring tendonitis.

How to avoid hamstring injuries: Avoid forcing your legs into any stretches and you’ll find these injuries quite easy to avoid. If hamstrings are not your most flexible body part, apply added focus on contracting the front of your body (quads and lower abs) when you fold forward to let your hamstrings feel safe letting go. Don’t use your hands to pull your body deeper into forward folds. Those of you with a lot of mobility in your hamstrings need to be cautious and focus on engaging your outer hips, as it’s possible for you to overstretch and cause injury.

Shoulders: Yoga can cause shoulder injuries as a result of improper overuse. Poses like plank, chaturanga, cobra pose, and upward facing are common culprits. I’ve also seen shoulder injuries arise due to students not listening to their bodies’ signs of fatigue. Don’t push through chaturanga when your body is screaming for a modification or a rest.

How to avoid shoulder injuries: Avoid putting heavy weight on the joint by keeping the shoulders locked into the back on the poses listed above. Be sure to hug the elbows into the side body as you lower down through chaturanga and drop your knees down if this is hard to accomplish. Nail the elbows grazing into the ribs as you lower first – then try to lower down in one line with knees lifted. In your updog and cobra poses be sure to expand into the collar bones and externally rotate the shoulders and pull them down into the back pockets.

Wrists: Much like elbow injuries, wrist pain is a result of repetitive stress. This small joint is often already aggravated by too much computer usage. Those of you with weaker upper arms and forearms are at a higher risk because you won’t be able to press your palm firmly enough into your mat to relieve the weight placed on your wrist.

How to avoid wrist injuries: Supplement your yoga practice with some basic arm exercises designed to tone and strengthen. Use dumbbells or resistance bands when you visit the gym. The stronger your arms are, the less pressure you’ll place on your wrists. Alternatively, I recommend placing your knees on the ground to modify poses, like chaturanga, while you build wrist strength.

Lower back: Among the most frequent yoga injuries, lower back pain is often caused by rounding your spine in forward folds or downward dog. Rounding and overstretching is a recipe for injury and irritation, as it causes your spine to flex the opposite way it is supposed to.

How to avoid lower back injuries: Don’t shy away from bending your knees in forward folds; this allows your back to decompress and relax. Engage your lower belly in most poses – especially chair – as core strength contributes to a strong, healthy back. Keep a small bend in your knees throughout practice and remember to tuck your pelvis under your spine.

Knees: Knee injuries are often related to a lack of flexibility, especially in poses that target your tight hips. Other times, they’re the result of your knees falling out of alignment in poses like Warrior or triangle pose.

How to avoid knee injuries: When bending your knee in a pose like Warrior 2, always check that it is tracking over your middle toe. You never want it to cave inward because it adds unnecessary strain. When your knee is straight, avoid locking your knee joint. Additionally, avoid spending long periods of time in deep hip openers until you build flexibility there.

Neck: Any time you apply pressure to your neck – such as during a headstand – you’re compressing your neck. This can lead to pain in your cervical vertebrae. Your neck is one of the scariest places to harm since it takes so long to heal properly.

How to avoid neck injuries: Never put pressure on your head in any kind of inversion – including when you prepare for full wheel. Don’t force yourself into poses that the rest of your body (shoulders, wrists, abs) isn’t prepared to support you in.

Given all the proven benefits of yoga, but also the many potential risks, what should you yogis do? My biggest advice to avoiding yoga injuries is a combination of gradually easing into each practice, noting when your body feels pain over sensation, and mixing yoga with other exercise forms to strengthen weak areas.

At Yoga Fever, it’s our mission to teach an anatomically-sound yoga practice that keeps your bodies safe and strong! If you ever start noticing pain or discomfort, let your yoga instructor know so we can help adjust you or modify your pose.

7 Tips for Avoiding Common Yoga Injuries

Many yogis love the practice because it reduces the tightness in their necks, loosens their lower backs, and releases tension in their hips. But, like any kind of sport or activity, injuries can – and do – happen in yoga.

Some injuries occur due to overuse and inaccurate alignment on repeat. Others come about from thinking you’re more flexible than you really are. And sometimes, they’re a complete slip, accident, or fluke.

Thankfully, I have seven pieces of advice to help you avoid common yoga injuries. Because the most important thing to Yoga Fever instructors is keeping you safe and your body healthy.

1. Know the difference between sensation and pain

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: leave your ego at the door. Do NOT compare your flexibility, your strength, or your body in general to that of your neighbor. Everyone’s body is different, which means that the “perfect pose” may not be possible for you – right now, or ever. That’s okay. We’re here to guide you toward your best possible expression. But if anything ever starts feeling uncomfortable, please listen to your body and back off.

2. Get the green light from your doc if you have any pre-existing injuries

If you’re new to yoga and have any pre-existing injuries, please talk to your doctor or physical therapist for guidance first. While we instructors are trained in anatomy and are skilled in helping students avoid new injuries, we don’t know what aches and pains you might be dealing with already. Discuss which postures or movements might be risky based on your current or ongoing limitations.

3. Chat with your instructor before or after class

That being said, we also want to hear from you – about existing injuries or any new pains you’re noticing. When we know what’s going on with your body, we can help cue modifications to help you avoid doing more injury to yourself. While we try our best to move around the studio and help students right during class, we can’t always make it to everyone. We warmly welcome you to chat with us before or after class, so we can help you protect your body.

4. Gently stretch tight areas

Stretching and other dynamic movements should always be done mindfully and gently. Take your time loosening tight areas – especially during the beginning of class or when you’re practicing outside of our heated studio. It’s natural to feel some resistance, but you should be able to tell the difference between that and pain. Overstretching will only ever set you back by worsening existing injuries or leading to muscle tears.

5. Regular strength training

If you know you’re weaker in certain parts of your body – say, glutes or hamstrings – try to build strength there gradually. This helps you reduce putting too much pressure on other body parts as they try to compensate. Focus on regular cardiovascular or resistance-training exercises several times per week to build up the strength you need to stay safe in the yoga studio.

6. Use props for support

You know those blocks and straps at the back of our yoga studio? Yes, we really do want you to grab one of each for every class. Blocks can easily bring your mat closer to you if you don’t reach the floor in a certain bend or twist. They relieve pressure on your precious hamstrings. A rolled-up blanket or towel placed under your knee or hip is another great way to protect vulnerable parts of your body. Props are not something to be ashamed of. In fact, some of the strongest yogis are those who rely on their props to support them when they need it.

7. Consider trying various styles of yoga

Beyond the physical injuries, you might immediately think of, certain vigorous styles are not meant for beginners. Ease your way into the yoga practice by attending some of our gentle yoga, warm (not as hot) classes or even our yin yoga classes, which move at a slower pace. Learn the foundations of yoga from our experienced teachers, and read up on how to prepare your body for the Power Vinyasa Classes. Choose the appropriate class for your skill level and work your way up.

Next week, we’ll dive deeper into some of the most common yoga injuries, teaching you practical ways to avoid falling victim to them yourself.

In the meantime, I hope you take these tips to heart. It’s easy to forget that the ancient practice is about so much more than contorting your body into unique, impressive physical shapes. But at the end of the day, no one wants to lose out on days or weeks of yoga practice because they’re nursing an injury that could have been avoidable.

An Ayurvedic Approach to Spring

The rain is pouring down, washing away the remnants of this winter’s snow piles as I write this. Do I dare believe spring is near?!

The spring season is traditionally a time of renewal. We throw open our windows, deep clean the messes that piled up over the long winter and prepare for cleansing and new growth.

While nature blossoms beautifully in the springtime, humans often experience a much less graceful transition this time of year. We often find ourselves feeling sluggish – like a reluctant, cranky bear coming out of hibernation.

To enjoy a healthy, active spring, you need a basic understanding of Ayurveda – yoga’s sister science – especially of the kapha dosha and how to bring it into balance.

Kapha Dosha

Of the three doshas, it’s kapha that brings light, warmth, and an increased energy. When it’s in balance, you’ll feel strong, composed, and stable – with strong muscles, lubricated joints, and an affectionate, loving personality.

The spring season is sweet and gentle, one that encourages us to slow down. The softness you might notice is an attribute of the water element, while the slowness is an attribute of the earth element. When these elements combine – as they’re doing each day outside this time of year – they encourage growth and new life. Buds begin to form on the trees and flowers pop out of the soft ground. Yet, when there’s too much water and earth combining, we get thick, overwhelming mud instead.

So, too, is the case for us humans. When our kapha dosha is out of balance, we figuratively get stuck in the mud. You may notice a tendency toward lethargy. Or you might gain weight, experience excess phlegm in your lungs or sinuses, and feel a heaviness in your limbs.

The kapha dosha is aggravated by qualities that are heavy, cold, or moist, so I encourage you to invite in lightness, warmess, and dryness through the food, activities, and self-care rituals you choose to engage in.

Common signs of kapha imbalance:

  • Dullness and lethargy in the mind
  • Excess congestion
  • Oily skin
  • Swelling
  • Sluggish digestion
  • Attachment issues

It’s incredibly important to intentionally balance your kapha dosha in the springtime, because it accumulates during the winter’s cold and wet atmosphere. As each of us hibernates during the winter, we develop a winter coat of insulation that must be shed to decrease our vulnerability to allergies or head colds.

So, what’s your basic prescription for spring? Develop a rhythm or routine that helps you gradually lighten your body, mind, and emotions.

Stay tuned next time as we dive deeper into the yoga poses, nutritional habits, and sleeping patterns best suited for balancing your kapha dosha this spring.

Monthly Feature Pose: Trikonasana | Triangle

This month, we’re featuring Trikonasana – or Triangle pose. Trikonasana, like most yoga poses, combines a variety of elements into one, lovely back and core strengthener. Because it’s a fairly gentle twist, it maintains back flexibility and works your full spine. The twisting motion also works as a massage to your internal organs, helping them rid toxins from your body.

It also brings connection with the lower half of your body. Though you stand on your legs every day, it’s easy to neglect their power and grace. Incorporating Trikonasana into your yoga practice will build strength and steadiness into your legs and feet.

Because Trikonasana pulls your body in every direction, it cultivates balance and evenness in your body. It magnificently expands and creates space in your torso, arms, and legs.

Trust me: before you know it, you’ll come to crave this pose, falling into it in any and all yoga practices!

Benefits of Trikonasana

It opens just about everything – hips, groins, hamstrings, shoulders, chest, and spine – making it an integral part to any yoga flow.

It stimulates abdominals in a friendlier way than many core exercises.

It improves alignment and stability, as you gradually are able to open your body into the full extension.

It stretches and strengthens your thighs, knees, and ankles.

It relieves backaches!

The Process

A steady triangle begins with a comfortable stride. Starting from warrior 2, turn your front toes so they face the top of your mat.

Bring your arms to a T position and extend strongly through all 10 fingertips. They should feel like they’re growing stronger and more vibrant with each breath.

Next, pop your back hip toward the back of your mat, then inhale deeply as you reach forward with your front hand. Make sure to keep your legs and hips steady as you reach!

Exhale as you slowly fold at your hip crease, stretching your front hand to your shin or a block. Be careful to avoid dumping all of your weight into this hand. Your abs and legs should be able to support you entirely.

Finally, lift your back arm to the sky, directly above your other shoulder. Your body should feel as if it could fit in the narrow space between two panes of glass, which means you’re going to need to rotate your upper shoulder and heart to the sky. Take a full round of breath here, enjoying the expansion throughout your chest, lungs, and heart.

Cautions

A couple things to watch out for when practicing trikonasana. If you have low blood pressure, take your time coming out of this pose. If you have high blood pressure, gaze downward, resting your top hand on your hip. Got a neck problem? It’s totally okay to keep your gaze forward, rather than twisting up toward the ceiling.

Modifications

Sometimes, a pose just isn’t your jam. If your body still needs time to get comfortable with trikonasana, use a block (on any height) to support your lower hand. This actually removes pressure from your front leg, hips, and shoulders. Wave us over if you’ve never felt confident in this pose; we’d love to help you!

Variations

If you’re looking to take this pose even further, try extending your top arm over your ear, in line with your side body and pointing toward the front of your mat. Lift your bottom arm up to meet it, as if you were holding a large beach ball. This is one of the best ways to check that you’re truly using your leg and ab muscles, rather than relying on your lower arm to support you.

Consider this complex and challenging pose an ongoing experiment. Explore different strides, play around with the rotation in your pelvis, and let your breath guide you into the pose. Always maintain a sense of playfulness and curiosity!

How to Avoid Dehydration During Hot Yoga

“Make sure you drink lots of water.” I’m sure most of you have heard this at Yoga Fever as you’re rolling up your mat and packing to leave class. In fact, you hear this tip frequently, whether you’re training for a race, practicing yoga in heated rooms, or simply maintaining a healthy life.

The statement itself sounds simple enough, but I often notice dehydrated students in our hot yoga classes. Recognizing this problem up a list of other questions: What is the best way to hydrate? How do you know if you’ve had enough water? What are the key signs to look out for to avoid dehydration?

Tiredness, dizziness, cramped muscles, or no sweat – even in our incredibly hot room – are a few symptoms of dehydration. For yoga newbies, it’s totally acceptable to require a few classes for your body to acclimate to the heat, but continued struggle can be a sign of not enough water.

We’ve talked before about the best tips and tricks to nourish your body before a hot yoga class, but I want to focus on the critical importance of hydration.

Prepping for Your Hot Yoga Class

Enter the hot yoga studio already properly hydrated. It’s simply too hard to do it once you’re already in the room, as it takes your body about 45 minutes to process water. Hydration before yoga is essential to avoiding stiffness and cramping. Ideally, the bottle you bring will simply be for refreshment.

Then, make absolutely sure that you hydrate after class. I know many of you lead busy lives and are running off to the next thing after class, but don’t ditch that water bottle! Nutritionists recommend drinking at least 20 ounces of water after class to replace the fluids you burned off during class.

Sneaky Tips to Getting the Right Hydration for Hot Yoga

When practicing hot yoga, you simply cannot hydrate properly with water alone; you need the right balance of water and electrolytes. However, I advise against the many sports drinks out there, as they often have too much sodium and sugar. Coconut water, though, cannot be beat! With five key electrolytes, along with vitamins and potassium, it’s an ideal alternative. In fact, coconut water is so similar to blood plasma that it can be used as intravenous fluid in emergency transfusions – crazy, right?

Eat your water. The right foods can help you stay hydrated. Fruits and vegetables – especially lettuce, broccoli, grapefruit, cucumber, and watermelon – will increase your metabolism.

Spike your drink. Sometimes water needs a little boost of flavor. If you’re growing tired of your water intake, enhance your water with a kick of flavor – whether it’s a natural remedy like cucumbers, oranges, or lemons or a flavored powder.

I want to challenge each of you to embark on your own personal hydration challenge. Sip on water all day, even when you don’t feel thirsty. Fill your reusable bottle as soon as you finish it. Slowly drink a bottle of water over the course of the hour leading up to yoga class. And drink another in the 30 minutes after class. Stock up on produce high in water volume. Give it a week and see how your yoga practice is transformed!