5 Tips on How to Love Yoga

Wild Thing Pose - happyfitmama.com

I get asked a lot how I can love yoga. Isn’t it boring? Slow? Just stretching? I admit I haven’t always loved yoga. I thought those very same things. Standing still in one place could not be beneficial to your health.

When I first started trying yoga about 5-6 years ago, it was at home with a video. I think it was Candlelight Yoga from Crunch Gym. I was looking for something to calm me down, stretch and relax. We were trying to get pregnant and I heard yoga was a good tool to help with the stress of not conceiving right away. I did it but didn’t really get into it.

After a short time, I decided I was ready for a class at my gym. I had a general idea of basic poses which made me feel a little bit more comfortable. I wouldn’t be craning my neck to see what the teacher was doing the whole time. The first in real life class was good. It was a slow moving Hatha practice. I wasn’t hooked but I did feel a million times lighter leaving that class. It was just what I needed to decompress and let all my thousands of thoughts slide away.

After awhile I felt brave enough to try Power Yoga. It was faster with a warmer room and an athletic emphasis. We did so many Chaturangas that first night that I was sore for days. This felt like a workout. I was sweating. I could feel my muscles working hard. There was absolutely no boredom since the pace was so quick. I was hooked! It felt marvelous. This was my type of yoga. My routine consisted of 3-4 yoga classes a week. Eventually we did get pregnant and I continued my yoga practice at the gym, at home and at another place strictly for prenatal yoga.

Family yoga - happyfitmama.com

Post babies I kind of abandoned yoga. I didn’t have a gym membership and my home practice wasn’t happening among all the baby paraphernalia. About 2 1/2 years ago I started doing occasional sessions with free classes online. It felt great to breathe, twist and decompress again. It wasn’t the same as my old classes but it worked with my schedule.

Soon there after a Living Social deal for an independent yoga studio in my area popped up. I spontaneously bought one and never looked back. A real yoga studio was ten times different than my old gym. The teacher came around and adjusted your poses. Some teachers didn’t even do the practice with the class. They just walked around the room for the entire session. We chanted. People were doing headstand and poses I’d only seen in Yoga Journal. I knew then and there I could never go back to doing yoga at a gym.

This was the practice that I wanted.

Through my years of trial and error, there are 5 things that I found that worked for me.

5 Tips on How to Love Yoga  HappyFitMama.com

5 Tips on How to Love Yoga

  1. Start slow. Don’t think you need to do a full 60-90 minute practice every single day. Just like any new exercise addition, start once a week and see how it goes.
  2. Try different styles. There are countless styles of yoga and variations. Bikram, Ashtanga, Hatha, Kundalini, Power Yoga, Chair yoga, Yoga for Women with Curves, Yoga for Runners, Aerial Yoga. The list goes on and on. If one style doesn’t suit you, try another. I can almost guarantee there is one out there for you!
  3. Don’t compare yourself to others. As with life in general, be you. Just because the person next to you is in headstand, don’t think you need to be. Know your limits. Also, don’t think everyone is watching you. Trust me, most people are concentrating on themselves. I rarely even notice the person on the mat next to me until after Savasana.
  4. Go to a yoga studio rather than a gym unless you’ve heard great things about a teacher. I didn’t really get proper alignment instruction during any of my classes at the gym. I remember the first time someone thoroughly explained Warrior II, I was amazed at how much different it felt doing it right. Plus, the last thing you want to do is get injured.
  5. Don’t take it too seriously. Yoga isn’t all straight faces and no emotions. Relax, smile, laugh.

If after you’ve done a few live classes and feel like you want to supplement at home, here are my favorite yoga websites and podcasts:

How did you get into practicing yoga? Do you want to love yoga? Any DVDs, websites, podcasts or tips youโ€™d like to add?

63 comments on “5 Tips on How to Love Yoga

  1. What a great post, Angela!
    I too struggle with enjoying yoga – or so I thought. My first experience with in class yoga was in a Bikram yoga and I felt like dying! Then I tried antigravity yoga and I am hooked. I still can’t really masters all the basic yoga moves but it sure helps me a lot with my bad back and I wish they have more classes than once a week but hey, that’s better than nothing and I’ve learn to enjoy the relaxing peaceful quietness inside the hammock.
    Maureen recently posted..What Snorkeling Taught MeMy Profile

    1. Practice, practice, practice. It’s taken years to really block it all out. Some days are better than others. I also find it’s much easier to do in a studio than at home.

  2. Wow! You read my mind! I needed this post! I went to my second hot yoga class last night, and he pushed us HARD, so hard that I found myself giving up on things….which I NEVER do. I wonder how much of that is how much intensity I put into my training that it was too much that day (as I had already done a 15 mile run at 6:38 pace :S).

    You are so right though with your tips. It is hard not to compare, not to expect too much, and not to push yourself too far…..especially when we are insanely competitive as runners, but we do yoga for different reasons to running. I agree that when you leave that studio, you feel so accomplished, so refreshed, and so at peace. It is not too much fun during, but the sensation after is worthwhile….much like running actually. Thank you for this post, I was considering my future in yoga, but you have encouraged me to keep going ๐Ÿ™‚
    Tina Muir recently posted..Meatless Monday: Vegetable Rice BakeMy Profile

    1. Perfect timing! Glad I could help a little. I once was in a yoga class where a guy in his 20s was trying to keep up with me. Talk about being competitive! The poor guy was not flexible at all and didn’t know what he was doing. The teacher kept coming over to him to show modifications but he kept trying to mimic me. I will admit I purposely did more advanced moves just to one up him. Hahaha!

  3. I found yoga from the Crunch gym videos, too! I did the Power Yoga, I think, but it was the same instructor. I enjoyed it in my home but was intimidated in the class setting. I eventually got over it, and I try to include it as much as my schedule (and wallet) allow. I think it’s all about finding the right studio and instructor.
    Kimberly @ Healthy Strides recently posted..Time to glow: Launching Les MillsMy Profile

    1. Go to a studio – you’ll love it! And if you try to practice at home, that picture is what will happen. I roll out my mat, the kiddos and Cooper think it’s meant for them. However, it’s pretty dang cute to see them doing the poses with me!

  4. Nice job! Being more consistent with my yoga practice is a 2014 goal of mine. I have a yoga post planned for the end of the month…will have to link to yours! Gym yoga is usually awful. I had no idea there were yoga podcasts!
    Tara Newman recently posted..Meal Plan Sunday # 6My Profile

  5. Great post and tips! I love yoga now and especially love the way I feel afterward. But I agree that I didn’t begin loving it until I started going to a yoga studio instead of just taking the classes at the gym. I can’t fit the yoga studio in right now but we fortunately have classes at work where they bring in instructors from a local studio so that definitely helps! I’m working toward handstand in class right now. I’m not sure I’ll ever get there without the wall but it’s been fun working on it.
    Chaitali recently posted..Week in reviewMy Profile

  6. I only started doing yoga in early December and I have to admit, I don’t hate it. As a fitness instructor who loves cardio, I thought I’d be bored out of my mind. But really, it feels really good.

    I have only done one class, and prefer to do it alone, at home. I use DoYogaWithMe.com to find specific yoga workouts for the body parts I want to stretch at any given time (usually hips, lower back, and legs).
    Irene Robertson recently posted..Half-Marathon Training Update โ€“ Week 6My Profile

  7. Great post. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have been an avid yogini for about 6 years now and I’ve always loved it, but I love it even more now that I’m a runner. Running and yoga go hand in hand for me.

    I practice aerial as well! Love the picture! And I totally agree with you about studio classes. I joined a cheap gym with no classes so that I could have the extra money to go to the studio when I want.
    Lauren recently posted..Saltโ€™s Streak Day 50 Celebration! {Bondi Band Giveaway!}My Profile

  8. I absolutely love that picture of you hanging upside-down! So cool. I love yoga and before I had the boys I used to “practice” 2-3 times a week. It really helped me to calm down as well as increase my flexibility. Sadly, I don’t do it at all anymore and I really miss it. I told my husband that after this long stretch of training I may my summer the summer of YOGA!
    Allie recently posted..The Rundown – Link Up!My Profile

  9. Love love love this Angela! I am not a natural Yogi by any means. I like to dabble in it and try it out every once in a while. The biggest thing for me is not comparing myself to others. I am not naturally graceful nor does Yoga come easy to me- once I stopped looking at others and thinking ‘I can’t do that’ it made it a lot more enjoyable!
    Laura Anderson recently posted..Boston Training: One week down, 97 days to goMy Profile

    1. I remember the first class I took without any mirrors was so freeing. You weren’t looking at yourself, your neighbor, the super bendy graceful person in the front row that you wanted to me. You just concentrated on you.

  10. Your picture is amazing! I just recently started taking yoga classes at a local studio. After my miscarriage I needed some time away from the running and heavy lifting. My studio has an express class that is 45 minutes long and there are usually only 2-3 students, it really broke down the walls of yoga for me and makes me insanely happy. I am taking my first 90 minute yoga class on Wednesday and I am very nervous but very excited!
    Kelly @ Cupcake Kelly’s recently posted..My Favorite Books of 2013!My Profile

  11. I do love yoga, although I haven’t practised it in a long time. I love my Bikram Yoga class the best, but it is so $$$. I’ve tried at home yoga, but I can’t seem to get into the groove of it. I have to say though, your photos, and those of Christine’s inspire me so much. Especially those outside.
    Kierston recently posted..Embrace The Change Of Pace…My Profile

    1. Thank you so much Kierston! I’m counting the days till our local yoga in the park starts back up in the summer. It’s such a different practice out in nature with the wind, the sounds, looking up at the sky. So fun!

  12. Thanks for this post. I thought it was just me that didn’t have the concentration for a whole yoga session! I made it a priority to do an online Yoga for Runners class twice a week, but I quickly lost interest in it half way through. I will keep searching!

  13. I think I hurt myself just looking at that last picture – that is incredible!!!
    Great tips – and definitely something for me to remember if I ever start yoga (besides the DVDs that I’ve attempted).
    Kim recently posted..Great Weekend ReadsMy Profile

  14. Amazing tips and love your journey story. I really, really want to get to point where I am doing yoga multiple times a week. I guess it’s a lot like running where you have to give yourself time to get to a point where you feel comfortable. Yoga-love is my goal for 2014, I want to find it.
    Pavement Runner recently posted..#RnRAZ Social Media Meet UpMy Profile

    1. It’s definitely one of those things that you have to make time for, just like running. Good luck on getting to your yoga love. Just think of the level it can take your running!

  15. You know that I love this post (and glad that we were both thinking alike today). It took me a while to get into it as well but now it’s love. Such great tips and it’s so true about the gym vs. studio thing. Funny though because I’m teaching some classes at a gym and it is a totally different story from what I see at a studio. And I talk a lot about alignment because it’s so important!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..6 ways to fit yoga into your lifeMy Profile

  16. I totally agree with you about joining a studio. There is such a difference in the quality of the class.

    I already love yoga, I just have a hard time sticking with it. It seems to be the first thing to go when life interferes (running is the last thing, something I’ll stick with forever).

    Thanks for this post. Between your post and Christine’s appearing on the same day, I feel it must be a sign..get back to the mat!
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..Marathon Base Training, Ignite Naturals, and the Dog RescuerMy Profile

  17. Awesome post! I really want to try to get into yoga, but I’m terrible with flexibility. I’ve done a few DVDs at home and I love how it makes me feel at the end but I can’t really tell if I’m doing it right, you know? I really want to take a class, will anyone be horrified if I just fall over during a pose? That’s seriously my biggest fear!
    Kristen recently posted..Monday Motivation: Scare YourselfMy Profile

  18. I love yoga and how it complements my running. I did want to add that not all gym yoga is bad yoga. I go to our local ymca, and we have a heated studio with teachers who also teach in yoga studios. I’ve been to dedicated yoga studios, and the yoga at my Y is as good or better than some of those, including a couple highly rated ones in NYC.
    Judith recently posted..A Reluctant Day OffMy Profile

  19. Love all your tips! I only started getting into yoga about 8 months ago when I discover vinyasa yoga (I think aka power yoga?). I’m finding it great for stretching me out and preventing injuries.

    I can’t get to classes so I practice at home via yogaglo which is amazing – so many different classes, teachers & styles plus a range of durations too so if I only have 10 minutes I can find a class. Or this morning I really needed to stretch out my neck & shoulders, so I found a 30 minute class for neck & shoulder release.
    Elsa recently posted..Fitness Friday #9My Profile

  20. I love this! I only recently picked up yoga & I’m doing the same as you did. Starting off slow & at home, getting familiar with the poses but I still feel like I need to move to classes. This was really helpful! I’ve been looking at going to the gym but I think I’m going to switch to a yoga studio. I love yoga, makes me feel so good.

    Yasmeen x
    Yasmeen recently posted..COOKING WITH COCONUT OILMy Profile

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