Getting Started With An At-Home Yoga Practice

If you had asked me a year ago if I thought I would even be capable of practicing yoga anywhere other than a supervised yoga studio, I would have told you no way! Something about letting loose and finding my own flow scared me. I just assumed I wasn’t “good enough” or that I would do it wrong. I’d lay my mat out and just stand there, over-thinking it, not sure where to start.

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Before I let myself do this, I had to get past that idea that yoga was a “serious” + technical practice; That I had to do everything exactly like my yoga instructors. Once I let go, I was addicted. Here’s how you, too, can start your at-home yoga practice.

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Find a quiet place that’s all your own. I have a little space in between my living room and kitchen that is the perfect spot for a yoga mat. (It’s also really the ONLY space in my little apartment to practice. If you’re like me and have limited space, all you really need is enough floor space for your mat + a little wiggle room.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 4.11.26 PM Do whatever it is you need to do to get your mind + body into a relaxed state with no distractions. You can start by turning off your phone. I practice early in the morning, when the world is still quiet and my mind hasn’t had the chance to stress about a single thing. If the sun is already up, I’ll shut my blinds enough to create a dim lighting and I always have my diffuser on with peppermint and lavender essential oils.

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I don’t know about you, but music is an absolute necessary part of my yoga practice, whether I’m on my own, or in a studio. Trust me, I’ve been to a few classes where there was no music… and quickly realized how much I crave music to keep me going and give me a direction. I just love that it melds two of my biggest passions together – music + yoga.

If you’re a music person too, I recommend either finding a Spotify playlist with songs you won’t want to “skip” or creating your own yoga playlist. Depending on the day, I’ll play some acoustic singer-songwriter music or my personal favorite, contemporary christian. Listening to a contemporary christian music first thing in the morning allows me to get my practice in and spend some time with God all in one. Yoga has actually depend my relationship with God over the past two years. I find that the more I open my heart and make myself vulnerable on the mat, the more I’m open to hearing Him and relying on him to tell me where to go. It’s given me a greater appreciation for the body + life God has blessed me with.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 4.12.13 PMSo you’ve got everything set up + ready to go! Now for the scary part… Actually practicing yoga. First, I want you to know you don’t have to consider yourself a “yogi” to do your own thing. Even if you are a beginner, you can find your own flow and do what feels good.

If you are just getting started, I would recommend looking up some online yoga classes. This will get you comfortable in your own skin and allow you to practice with some direction.

Eventually, you’ll find you don’t want to follow the instructor on your computer anymore.  You’ll want to do what feels right to your body and find ways to move to the music + stretch your body where it needs it most.

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My biggest piece of advice is, listen to your body. If you are new to an at-home practice, go slowly, and don’t push yourself too far. It’s better to go a little lighter than you are used to in class, than to injure yourself in the process of trying to get a better workout in. Soon, you’ll start to feel comfortable with your own routine and you’ll find new ways to push your body in a safe way. If you are going to do any inversions (head or hand stands), do them up against a wall. You’ll be glad you did if you accidentally loose your balance.

Beat The Bloat

Swimsuit season is quickly approaching, and although I truly believe in loving every inch of your body (curves and all!), I also know what it feels like to want to look and feel your very best when stepping out in a swimsuit. Here’s what I like to do to beat the bloat before a beach day.

*Extra Challenge – Try to stay consistent with a few of these tips throughout the year, to maintain your bloat-fighting powers ;) 

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It almost seems counterintuitive to drink more water when your body is retaining water, but it’s exactly what your body needs. More water. When you eat food high in salt or sugar, your body reacts with extra bloat. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated + healthy.

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It seems the yogurt of choice these days is greek. And I have to say, I’m pretty happy about it. Not only is greek yogurt higher in protein, it’s got all kinds of belly bloat-fighting probiotics and live active cultures in it to get your belly swimsuit ready. Just be sure to choose 0% plain, with no added sugars. (Opt for a little drizzle of local honey instead)

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Artificial sweeteners contain chemical properties that are hard for our stomachs to digest. Diet sodas are a double threat, because the carbonation literally fills your stomach with air bubbles that cause major bloat Stay away!

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Bananas contain a lot of potassium, which works to literally flush the water out of your system! Eat one of these babies first thing in the morning and it’ll fight the bloat for you before lunch.

Your turn! Are there any tricks you use to beat the bloat during swimsuit season?

Setting Your Intention

In yoga, it’s common practice to set your intention before the start of every class. Your intention can be anything you want it to be. It can be spiritual. It can be a simple phrase or mantra. It can be something you feel you need to work on in your heart.

I have found that if I have a visual – Something simple, yet meaningful – for me to look at throughout my practice, it helps me to stay focused on my intention and really incorporate it into my practice. It helps to flush the worry, stress or any other distraction from my mind, leaving a clean slate for the rest of the day.

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My New Favorite Thing

Lately I’ve been enjoying the process of starting to practice yoga at home. I still LOVE going to my classes, but it’s also really nice to just let my body flow into whatever position it feels like without having to follow along. It’s so freeing to just let go and follow by body, letting music lead the way.

My little nugget, Roo likes to join in from time to time. I’ll be posting videos up on my YouTube channel for all of you to watch :) Who doesn’t love a cute puppy doing yoga, am I right?

Sunday Morning Workout

It’s spring! (Finally) And I can’t wait to spend more time outside enjoying the beautiful sun and mild temperatures. As much as I love zoning out to some quality reality TV while working out, it’s fun to get outside for a workout now and then.

Here’s a fun workout to do on your own outside:

All you need is a mat, and stability ball and two dumbbells!

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My Daily Reminder to Smile

I’ve recently discovered the beauty of reusable water bottles. I love them. I had a really old beat up bottle until yesterday, when Spencer surprised me with a brand new bottle! … The best part – he also got me the most adorable yellow mouthguard with a big smiley face right in the center.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic.

I’m so happy I have a new constant reminder to smile every day :)

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What’s your daily reminder to smile?