Yoga for Writers

I’m the type of person who has a hard time sticking to any fitness routine for any length of time.

I am notorious for getting fitness videos to workout to in my living room. I’ve done Tae-bo with Billy Blanks and more recently the 30 Day Shred and Six Week Six Pack with Jillian Michaels. (Note that I did not stick with these long enough to either become shredded, or get a six pack) I enjoy them for a while but can’t seem to commit for much more than a few weeks.

I’ve tried the gym and it just isn’t for me. I can’t get past learning all the gym etiquette much less  muster up the motivation to make sense of all those machines. I’ve tried taking classes with the latest fitness trends: there was Jazzercise and Zumba … but I eventually grew too bored (or too broke) to keep up with them.

I’ve heard great things about Yoga and have wanted to try it for a while –  okay, years. As a person who works at desk all day, then comes home to write at a laptop, I thought I could benefit from some yoga.

Yoga lotus pose

Image courtesy of MeditationMusic.net

Yoga is known to strengthen and stretch the muscles and improve flexibility, improve blood circulation, counteract stress, and improve flexibility.

Whenever I am interested in learning more about something, one of the first things I do is read about it. So naturally I ran (drove – I do not run) to my local library and picked up a stack of books and DVDs on the subject.

NOTE: There are several different methods of Yoga, all which have different benefits – they’re not all about bending yourself up like a pretzel! My practice so far has consisted mostly of Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga.

After doing some initial research, I hopped onto YouTube and found Yoga with Adriene. Her beginner videos felt like just the right place to start. They were introductory in their style with helpful hints about focusing on breath, and connecting to the earth. Her Foundations of Yoga videos are a great way to get comfortable with various poses.

Then I found DoYogaWithMe.com – tons of completely FREE videos you can stream online! The videos are high quality and with so many to choose from you’re sure to find something that feels good for you. What’s so great about this site is that you can sort the videos by level and/or length and focus on your needs.

In last month or so, I have added yoga to my life slowly, anywhere from 2-5 times a week as my schedule allows. What I love about yoga is that I don’t need to rework my schedule to fit in a little bit each day. I can start by waking up 20 minutes earlier and doing some gentle yoga to start my day, or do a longer routine to unwind after work or before going to bed.

Just a week or so ago I woke up feeling tense and seriously achy. I did a twelve minute yoga routine for the neck and shoulders and felt so much better afterward!

If you are interested in yoga, here are a few tips for getting started.

Yoga Tips for Beginners

  • Begin by learning some of the  basics and vocabulary of yoga. If you jump right into doing yoga without understanding the language and poses, you may get a little hung-up. A few basic poses I learned before beginning were child’s pose, cat/cow, cobbler’s pose, and the well-known downward dog.
  • I am of the mindset, “try it before you buy it.” You may feel that you need to run out to get a mat, blocks and bolsters, buy DVDs and fancy yoga pants and workout gear. You don’t need to invest a ton of money to begin yoga. I have begun doing yoga completely free (and in my sweats.)
  • Be sure to start with routines like gentle yoga or yoga for beginners before moving on to more advanced routines and strenuous poses. Start with what feels good!
  • Once you are comfortable, check out your local gym to see what Yoga classes are offered that fit with your schedule. (Or, if you’re like me, don’t!)

Yoga Tips for Writers:

  • Visit DoYogaWithMe.com and be sure to check out the office yoga videos for short sessions focusing on the neck, back and shoulders.
  • When you’re feeling tense during the workday or during a long writing session, take a break to stretch for a few minutes every hour or so. Find a short yoga routine you can do in your office, or even right in your chair!
  • If you suffer from wrist pain from long hours at the keyboard like I do, check out the five minute stretching routine for the wrists and Yoga for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Finally, I feel I have found a routine I can commit to. Granted, I’m not exactly doing cardio with this practice and don’t expect to see me standing on my head anytime soon. But I have immensely enjoyed the stretching and relaxation that yoga has brought to my life.

I’d love to hear from you! Do you practice yoga? Do you want to start? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

New Year, New Beginnings

January is often the month of resolutions. A new year presents us with the opportunity for a fresh start. I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions just for the sake of making one. Creating change in your own life takes more than just a wishful goal made because of the drop of a ball and the changing of a calendar.

But this year is a little different for me. It started in December, a month that, with the joy and cheer of being surrounded with loved ones for the holidays, didn’t feel so joyous or cheerful at all.

First, the unimaginable tragedy at Sandy Hook where so many children and teachers lost their lives. Then, right here in the city I call home, four firefighters were gunned down responding to a fire on Christmas Eve, two of whom were killed. Events like these leave me with two burning questions, “How could anyone do something so despicable, so awful, so horrific?!” and second, “What is this world coming to?”

I was left wondering, (and am still wondering) how do we come back from a tragedy like this? How do we move on, how do we carry on with our lives and have faith in the world in which we live, faith in humanity, faith in life itself?

I don’t know the answer to that question, and certainly the answer is different for everyone. But I’ve come to one conclusion, and that is the belief that we must be the change we want to see in the world. The change must come from ourselves, we must create change in our own lives, our homes, our workplaces, our neighborhoods and communities.

For me, that means being a better person, being more grateful, more passionate, more positive, doing the things I love and having faith that life IS all it’s cracked up to be.

It starts with filling my life with positive and inspiring things. It continues with sharing positive and inspiring things with others.

So while I don’t have a specific New Year’s resolution, the start of this year marks the beginning of committing to living the life I want to live and being the person I want to be.

I’m starting small: I’m filling my Twitter feed with uplifting messages by following spiritual thinkers, inspiring leaders and sharers of Good news. I’ve subscribed to newsletters that deliver inspiration to my email inbox amidst the junk and clutter. I am actively seeking out positive, feel-good stories that typically don’t get covered by mainstream media, to remind myself there is still Good in the world. Most importantly, I love to read, so I’ve committed to make more time in my day to not only read more, but to read things that are inspiring and thought-provoking.

I hope to make these small changes and more, permanent changes in my life and my daily routine. And it is my goal to share them here, and on social media, for whoever wants to listen.

Happy New Year.