Tag Archives: yoga inspiration

Yoga | How To Start A Home Yoga Practice

Heather-Rae-Murphy-Photography-Yoga-Nicaragau-1People see me standing on my head all the time and hear me touting the benefits of yoga. It’s only natural I get these questions a lot: “What do you do to practice yoga at home? What should I do to start a yoga practice?”

In case you don’t know, I am almost 100% home-based in my yoga practice. Occasionally I will go to a yoga studio or join a group yoga session, but 99% of the time, I do my yoga at home, first thing in the morning.

Starting yoga is easy. You need some comfortable clothes and an exercise mat. The clothes do not have to be fancy yoga clothes. I’ve done yoga in my PJs. Sometimes this just makes me happy — so I do it. I’ve got suggestions for some of the fancy yoga mats and my personal favorite mat, but chances are, if you’re just starting out, you don’t want to invest $150 in a yoga mat. Don’t. Go to Target or TJ Maxx or Ross or whatever store happens to be close to you, and pick up a cheap mat. If you find it getting slippery in the midst of your practice, throw a towel under your hands. It’ll stop the slipping. I’ll share in another post my thoughts and suggestions for awesome yoga mats. But right now, I just want to encourage you to start. I want you to take all those barriers that may be stopping you and toss them to the side. So if getting a good yoga mat is stopping you, don’t get a good one. They’re all good enough. For reals. The TJ Maxx near my house sells them for $9.

The next questions are usually, “But how do you know what to do? Do you watch videos? Do you make your own practice? Do you just KNOW?” No. I don’t just know. I’m at a point in my practice that, yes, if I didn’t want to watch a video, I could make up my own flow, and it would be pretty solid. But honestly, I don’t do that. I watch videos.

I do yoga at 5:00am most mornings. I don’t want to think. I just want to be. I want to show up and allow someone to tell me what to do. There are some amazing yoga instructors with some amazing yoga videos available. Take advantage of all that is out there!

I have some great suggestions for yoga videos that can get you started with an at-home practice.

If you’re not ready to commit, and you just want to see if you even like yoga, YouTube is the best resource. There are some amazing teachers giving away all kinds of free yoga content on YouTube. There are some that are not so good too, but if you’re willing to look, I promise, you’ll find something awesome.

One of my absolute favorite yoga instructors on YouTube is Yoga With Adriene. Adriene has a whole series of yoga videos. She’s great at explaining poses, and I really do love her approach to yoga, which is basically that it’s your practice and you know what is best for your body, so do it your way. Her videos are of great quality also. She has an entire fundamentals series to walk you through all the fundamental poses in yoga, and she has great introductory videos all the way up to more advanced. She has a 30 Days of Yoga series that is awesome, which gives you 30 complete yoga practices. Adrienne talks about 30 Days of Yoga in the video below.

If you’re ready to take your practice to the next level, and you don’t mind paying for some videos, there are amazing instructors on a resource that I use called CodyApp. You can find CodyApp at codyapp.com, and you can download the app to your phone and/or iPad. I LOVE this service. It’s what I use almost every day. They have me hooked!

One of the awesome things about CodyApp is that they have several sample videos available on their app and YouTube, so you can get an idea of what the series is before you buy it. The instructors on CodyApp are phenomenal. I discovered many of the instructors through Instagram and later found out they have videos on CodyApp. They are some of the best of the best. I can’t say enough good things.

Here is a list of some of my favorite CodyApp instructors: Meghan Currie, Keno MacGregor, Kerri Verna, MacKenzie Miller, Briohny Smyth, and Dylan Werner. And there are many others. I highly recommend you visit their website and click through the various options to explore what they offer.

Below is a sample class from a Meghan Currie series that works you up to dancer’s pose:

I hope these videos and suggestions help you get started on your yoga journey! If there’s anything else you would like to know, I welcome questions. Yoga is truly a practice that has transformed my life, and I love to share about it!

xo

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Yoga | Pose Of The Week | Downward Facing Dog

When I first started yoga, I strongly disliked downward facing dog pose. I mean, like, for reals! I found it difficult to sustain for long periods (which equated to a few breaths), and I certainly did not find it restful. A coworker once told me that she used to feel the same way, but over the years, she grew to love it and found it relaxing.

I swore I would never love downward facing dog!

But I’ve gotta tell ya. She was right. All these years later, I do love downward facing dog. I find it simultaneously invigorating and relaxing. And I think it’s one of the best poses to build and sustain shoulder strength (because you’ve gotta have some shoulder strength to maintain this pose for any length of time). It’s also one of the best poses to return to when you’re needing a moment to breathe.

Aside from the awesome upper body strengthening, downward dog has lots of stretching benefits. These include stretching the back, the chest, the shoulders, the hamstrings, the calves, and the Achilles tendons!

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Steps to Master Downward Facing Dog Pose:

  1. Get on your hands and knees on the floor. Check to see that your hips are directly over your knees and your knees are hip width apart. Your palms should be slightly forward of your shoulders, shoulders width apart.
  2. Tuck your toes under.
  3. Spread your fingers wide.
  4. On an exhale, push into your hands and feet. Lift your knees away from the floor, and lift your sitting bones toward the ceiling. At first, keep your knees bent and the heels of your feet away from the floor.
  5. Continue pushing into your hands to maintain the evenness of the pose.
  6. After a few breathes, slowly start to straighten your knees (careful not to lock them) and lower your heels toward the floor. Your knees may not straighten completely, and your heels may not reach the floor. This is all okay! Don’t push yourself too hard. With practice, you’ll get there one day.
  7. Hold this pose for a minimum of 30 seconds.
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Yoga |To Quiet Your Mind, Get On Your Mat

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If you follow me on Instagram or know me in any capacity in real life, you know this thing about me: I’m a bonafide yoga addict. I love it. And not in a — I don’t really do it that much, I really just talk about it, except on that rare occasion I drag myself off the couch and into the yoga studio for candlelight and relaxation — kind of way. Rather, in the — I practice every morning at home, I’m stronger because of it, and truly, it’s changed my life — kind of way. I practice every. damn. day.

Now, I could tout to you all the physical benefits of yoga, the confidence breeding, the spurring of creativity (and I will in later posts), but for now I’m going to focus on one thing — how yoga calms overactive minds.

I’m the type of person that gets a little anxious on occasion. And probably anxious isn’t the right word. I get scattered. And when I feel scattered, I get stressed. It’s just that I happen to love about a gazillion things, I get swept up in a myriad of projects, and I pretty much want to do EVERYTHING. At any one moment, I could have ten projects running through my mind, each with ten different to-do list items attached. And that’s just for my photography business. I might also want to create that painting for my bedroom, hike to that peak I haven’t bagged yet, decorate the spare bedroom, and write the ten personal emails I’m behind on sending. Oh, and I need to grocery shop. But first I have to make a grocery list. Which means I need to look up new recipes. And the toilet. The damn thing never cleans itself.

So yeah. You could say my mind runs a mile a minute. And I often it find it hard to settle. Be calm. Focus on one piece of one project at one time.

But you know what changes that for me? I get on my mat. When I’m feeling like my mind is going in a million different directions. When I can’t focus on just one thing. When I’m chasing my thoughts from one moment to the next. I stop. I get on my mat. I do yoga. And time stops.

Try kicking up into a handstand ten times. No, really. Try it. After about the second kick up, could you think about anything else? Nope. The only thing you can think of is that moment. The only thing you can think of is the placement of your hands, adjusting your shoulders, kicking with the right momentum, letting go of the fear of falling over. Sure, there are a lot of things that can run through your mind when you’re trying to handstand. But I guarantee you, not one of them is how you’re going to create a masterpiece with your next photography project. Because it’s physically impossible.

So yeah. Yoga quiets the overactive mind. It forces me to stop making to-do lists that are a mile long. The focus is on the breath and aligning breath with movement. If I’m doing that, if I’m truly focusing on my breath, the present moment is all I have.

It’s powerful.

And when I’m done? When I step off my mat? Something truly beautiful happens. I get to work, one item at a time. It’s like this practice teaches my brain to slow down, to recalibrate, to focus.

I do yoga for many reasons. But this one alone is worth it. The impact is profound. The quiet mind changes everything.

If you’re at all like me, if your brain feels scattered and it’s stressing you out, I implore you to try it. You don’t have to handstand (in fact, if you’re not experienced, you shouldn’t). You don’t have to do the most difficult poses. But get a video or stop by a studio. Light a candle, take a moment to breathe, and get on your mat. You won’t regret it.

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