It used to be that yoga and meditation and mindfulness were a little too “woo woo” for me. I’m a Christian so, at the time, I associated Yoga with pagan religions which is, well, a little taboo in my world. And I suppose it does originate in the Hindu tradition but your version of Yoga doesn’t have to be Hindu. I came to the conclusion, after the convincing of a few friends, that Yoga doesn’t have to be all sun salutations to some kind of Hindu entity. It can be simply your body helping your mind to be focused and at peace. It can even be prayer– prayer to Jesus. It’s also excellent exercise and wonderful for your joints and muscles, whether your body is used to a lot of physical exertion or can’t handle much strain at all.
As someone who has struggled with severe anxiety over the years, I can assure you Yoga was a welcome surprise and the beginning of a journey toward recovery of my peace. It was a place where I had to force myself to become quiet before God and listen. It became a place where I had to be quiet with myself, as well. Contrary to what many of you think, being quiet with ourselves is not so easy, especially if we are filled with self-loathing, fear, and depression.
Although I’ve taken a few wonderful classes here in Little Rock at places like Barefoot Studio and Clubhaus Fitness (best gym in town, in my opinion), I usually prefer the quiet space of my own home. I found a couple of great Youtube channels that celebrate the home practice of yoga.
Yoga with Adriene is the channel I use most often for my own practice. Adriene is constantly updating her yoga video. She has sooooo many of them. Yoga for runners, Yoga for those in the Service Industry, 30 Days of Yoga, Yoga for Flexibility… I mean I could keep going for days. I could be wrong but it seems like she posts a new video daily and she’s had her channel for several years now.
One of the things I appreciate the most about Adriene is how down-to-earth she is. She’s not going to freak you out with weird crystals and other hippie trinkets and she’s not pretentious and “new-agey”. She films her practice on the hardwood floors of her cute, older home in Austin, Texas with her dog, who sometimes lays down haphazardly on her yoga mat during filming. She occasionally makes corny jokes and then promptly apologizes for them. She will break out into a song, sometimes Dylan, sometimes 80’s hair metal. She’s pretty much… adorable.
Another important key about Adriene is her yoga instruction, itself. She encourages you to have patience with yourself during your yoga journey, reminding you not to force your body into a position that will hurt you, giving you adaptations of more difficult positions, and helping you understand that nothing about what you’re doing is a competition.
Holy Yoga uses a kind of contemplative prayer during their practice emphasizing intimacy with a loving Jesus. I’ve watched several Christian yoga videos and Caroline Williams is the only one I can get through without cringing. Out of all of them, she seems to be the most sincere, the most calming and centered, and even somewhat “hip”. Her music selection is fantastic. In fact, I have her Yoga playlists saved on Spotify.
The setting for her videos are urban but peaceful as Caroline guides you through prayers of letting go and urges you to ease into spiritual change as well as into the difficult yoga positions. Her practice is somewhat advanced for the beginner so you may have to learn a few basics before starting the journey with her. One of my favorite videos is “Holy Yoga for When You’re a Hot Mess”. That seemed to be the video of the hour for me during my first year of yoga practice.
It would’t be a yoga post without touting my favorite leggings, right?
https://bit.ly/2kKw8s9 These Beyond Yoga leggins are handsdown my favorite. SO SOFT and high-waisted. And also, see how much school spirit I have for my university!!! Go Trojans!
https://bit.ly/2ssKrWO (Edgy Alo leggings)
https://bit.ly/2xDKYdz (Zella leggings– less pricey and a great basic for every day)