Yoga is an incredible activity that is suitable for almost everyone. It is especially beneficial to brides-to-be who are looking for a way to de-stress, focus on "the now", and who want to get their body in a top notch shape for their upcoming big day. I have been doing yoga consistently for about a year now and my only regret about yoga is that I didn't start doing it earlier. Yoga has tremendous mind and body benefits. A quick Google search will yield a plethora of information about the various benefits of practicing yoga.
Being an athlete for most of my life ( I ran cross country and track in college for 4 years ), I was accustomed to hard work and being physically active. However, when I started working as a teacher, plus running a business on top of that I noticed that going to the gym and lifting day in and day out just wasn't doing it for me anymore. I was in a good shape but wanted to be leaner, and more importantly, be more mentally focused. Between having 30 things on my to-do list at any given point of time, I really needed to get the constant flow of thoughts under control and de-stress out in a different way.
I must admit, before trying out yoga I thought it was easy and "didn't really do anything". However, once I started practicing yoga on regular basis, I immediately started to see changes in my mental focus, my stamina, flexibility, and mental awareness.
I began my yoga journey by joining a hot yoga studio for about a week, just to give it a try.
Boy, was I in for a treat...
... Let's just say that if you have never done yoga before, you probably should start with regular yoga classes, and not hot yoga, where you sweat to a-near-death in 100-degree room with zero idea of what you are supposed to be doing.
After going to hot yoga classes for a week, I knew I wanted to continue practicing yoga, but with my crazy schedule, it was simply impossible to attend classes during the studio's hours. Instead, I found a bunch of Youtube videos and began practicing at home ( for a list of my favorite videos, scroll to the end of the post ). I've been following my favorite Youtube videos ever since.
I should also mention that when I started practicing yoga I thought to myself "Go big or go home". To me, I needed to commit 100%. So, in order to get the most out of my practice, I began meditating for 10 minutes every day as well, and I gave up eating meat 100%.
I also do NOT recommend doing this all at the same time ( and of course, you should ALWAYS talk to your physician prior to making any drastic changes in your exercise and diet. ) Giving up meat and starting a new exercise program without prior experience can seriously overwhelm your body. If you are not used to drastic changes, doing all 3 things at the same time may be a bit of an "aggressive" start. I have personally been an on-and-off vegetarian for the last 4 years, giving up meat for months at a time. However, this time I was ready to give it up for good. I had to adjust and increase my food intake schedule, and really learn how to cook different vegetarian meals ( my husband is very happy about this). Now, I am hooked.
I have ZERO cravings for meat and have absolutely no desire to eat chicken or even delicious bacon. My cravings for sugar have also subsided and I feel AMAZING!
With all of that in mind, I can honestly say that the past year has been my least stressful year in my life. Despite having a full-time job and running a business ( which is like a second full-time job ), my stress levels have been at bay, and I have never felt better.
If you are a bride and want to get in shape for your wedding day without adding extra muscle mass by weightlifting, yoga is the way to go. Adding mediation to your practice will help you stay focus and grounded on all of the things you have to take care of before your big day.
Here are some of my favorite yoga poses. Scroll down to the end of the page for a list of my favorite books, videos, and resources on yoga, meditation and being a vegetarian.
The Mountain Pose
It is the foundation for all of the poses in yoga. Usually, you have your hands at your side, palms open. I love this pose because I use it to set the intention for my practice.
The Tree Pose
This simple pose is great for your balance, bringing awareness to your breath. It is an awesome hip opener.
Warrior 1 pose strengthens your hips, hamstrings, quads, calves and your glutes. It is also an amazing pose for balance. Holding your arms above your head builds solid shoulder muscles and really works out your entire body building amazing stamina and endurance.
This pose it suppose to be done with your front leg being straight. My flexibility is not quite there yet, and I cannot yet reach my hand to the mat - this is why my front leg is bent. Awesome pose for balance and REALLY stretches out your hamstrings. I also love it because it incorporates a twist which makes it extra challenging.
The Warrior 2
Love this pose since it works your shoulders, legs, calves and mental stamina.
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
For balance and serious strength try this awesome pose where you grab your big toe with your hand and extend the leg forward. I keep my leg slightly bend to prevent hyper extending the muscles.
The Warrior 3
Invigorates and tones the whole body, Warrior 3 is a "super" pose. Warrior 3 really requires a lot of concentration, and I love this pose because of the fact that you MUST be mentally ready for this pose when you execute it.
Wide Legged flat back
Great spinal strengthener, wide legged flat back pose can be incorporated into your practice in many ways. From this pose you can move into wide legged forward fold, side lunge, five pointed star or a prayer squat.
Forward Fold / Flat Back Position
This stimulating pose strengthens your legs, back, shoulders and abs. It is also great for your digestive and nervous systems and a great recovering pose after vigorous Vinyasa Flow.
This pose opens your hips, lengthens your spine and preps you for your meditative practice. Again, I can't stress enough of how important meditation has been in my life. I love finishing my practice with meditation because after a vigorous hour of yoga, my mind is naturally a lot calmer than before starting my practice. 10 minutes of meditation after yoga, and you totally feel like a brand new person.
Here is a list of resources I can't live without:
My favorite Youtube Videos are:
Yoga with Adrienne, the "Weight Loss Series" - even if you are NOT trying to lose weight, this series is challenging enough if you are looking for easy to follow videos that are good for beginners ( to get yourself familiarized with the poses ).
Once you have the basic knowledge of the poses, try these videos:
Favorite book for mental "peace" - 8 Minute Meditation by Victor DaVich - super easy to follow book where you learn how to meditate without any previous practice. Very easy read. I personally "upped" the 8 minutes to 10 just to make it easier to keep track. The strategies in this book were awesome to follow.
Favorite Vegetarian Cookbook - Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson - Minimal instructions, just amazing pictures of the vegetarian food, and tasty recipes: from appetizers to salads and delicious desserts. My favorite recipe is the Butternut Squash Salad with Mozzarella and Avocados. I think Iiterally tried every recipe in this book and all of them are super easy to make and beyond tasty.
I use a Fafu meditation cushion ( not pictured ) for my meditative practice. I bought it on YogaOutlet.com and it is in dark olive green color. Very comfortable and super affordable for your daily meditation practice.
My favorite Yoga Market Place - YogaClicks.store I LOVE that every thing that YogaClicks sells is personally made by fellow yogis around the world. The whole community of artists is incredible and I LOVE browsing their shops.
Lastly, I have an online subscription to gaia.com. Gaia is an online member supported conscious media company. Gaia provides subscribers with over 8000 ad-free streamable series and films on the a variety of topics, ranging from meditation, yoga, alternative medicine, to healthier food choices and spiritual awakenings. The subscription cost is 9.99$ per month.
I hope that you you can use some of the above resources to help you in getting in the best shape of your life.
Let's keep the conversation going! Comment below and let me know YOUR favorite resources and videos :)