My absolute number one favorite self care indulgence is my yoga practice. Yoga keeps me centered mentally and physically - it makes me feel strong and focused from the inside out.
I wasn’t always an exercise junkie. In fact, I struggled for years to find a form of fitness that was right for me. About two years ago, I was properly introduced to yoga and it was love at first pose. My relationship with yoga has evolved over time and I now try to practice every day. (I am really lucky to live two blocks from one of the best yoga studios in Philadelphia, so, running around the corner is pretty easy.)
For me, yoga is the perfect unity of all things I try to work on every day - physical wellness, spiritual wellness, mental wellness and gratitude. I have never felt stronger or more in control of the way I challenge my body than I do when I’m practicing yoga. I can decide how deep or intensely I approach each pose and where it makes sense to push myself versus where I may hurt myself. I feel a connection to my heart and body that makes me feel spiritually full for long after class finishes. I’m also forced to wrangle all of the wild thoughts floating around in my head into focus so I can stay balanced and centered during my practice. This mental tuning extends past the mat. And I always, always, always feel a shudder of gratitude at the end of class, even when I’m dripping sweat and my muscles are tired.
I have struggled with depression for many years and nothing lifts my spirits and keeps my emotions balanced like yoga. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise helps ease depression by releasing feel-good brain chemicals and reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression. Even if you don't struggle with depression of the clinical variety, we are all subject to a case of the blues - especially on the East Coast in the dead of winter - and an extra boost can only help!
If you haven’t tried it, I urge you to do so. Yoga is for everyone. You don’t have to be an athlete or a dancer or a bodybuilder. Yoga welcomes people of all shapes and sizes with open arms. If you are self conscious or unsure (or perhaps a working mom stretched for time!), you can practice at home. Here are some good resources for practicing yoga at home (taken from YogiApproved.com):
For the busy yogi who needs more hours in the day, the LivestrongWoman channel is an outstanding resource for 12-minute-or-less yoga videos. The channel features beginner, intermediate, advanced, pain relief, and stress relief and relaxation yoga playlists with Tara Stiles, all compiled in short videos and pose demonstrations.
Yoga by Candace
The Yoga by Candace YouTube channel features simple and calming yoga sequences that Candace narrates with a soothing voice. This channel has an excellent selection of full yoga routines in the 15 to 30-minute range, and it also offers short pose demonstrations, solutions for common yoga pose challenges, and sequences for common mental health issues such as anxiety or sleeplessness.
Fightmaster Yoga is home of the Yoga Fix 90, a 90-day yoga program that aims to help you create a healthy yoga habit with daily 15 to 40-minute yoga videos of varying intensity and type. The channel also has yoga playlists for HIIT and cardio, strength-building, flexibility and stretching, and quickie 10-15 minute classes, gentle yoga and meditation, and beginning and intermediate programs.
JessicaSmithTV offers a variety of routines, from barre and yoga to strength training. Jessica offers clear instruction and high-quality videos in the 15 to 35-minute range. Best of all, the videos often have a cameo from Jessica’s cute little French bulldog Peanut, who watches Jessica attentively and sometimes joins in on the yoga fun!
The PsycheTruth channel offers a 5-day yoga for weight loss challenge with 20-minute flows, a beginner’s yoga channel with full 20 to 40-minute videos (and pose demonstrations, too), as well as channels for bedtime yoga, total wellness, back pain, and even a yoga for dummies series. PsycheTruth
SeanVigueFitness – For the guys!
Yogidudes (and dudettes too), we didn’t forget about you. The SeanVigueFitness is an excellent channel for full-length yoga routines whether you are in a time crunch or have plenty of time for a long flow. The videos are nontraditional for sure, as Sean does yoga while wearing a baseball cap, sneakers and a brilliant sense of humor. Check out his five-minute videos for targeted muscle groups or his many 30- and 40-minute flows.
The SarahBethYoga channel has a variety of yoga playlists for your varying needs, from bedtime, flexibility, and restorative, to morning, hatha and vinyasa. You can also check out the 20 to 30-minute yoga videos or try out the 7-day yoga challenge, featuring a week of 15-minute mat sessions. SarahBethYoga
Yoga with Adriene
The Yoga with Adriene channel offers a huge selection of videos and compiled playlists. You can choose yoga videos of varying lengths for weight loss, foundations and beginners, runners, healing and travel. The channel posts a new video each Wednesday, so there is always something new for you to experience. Adriene is a super relatable and down-to-earth yogi. All of her classes are fabulous!
EkhartYoga has a full range of yoga videos from just a minute to more than an hour long. The channel offers videos for seniors, pregnancy, office workers, weight loss, strength building, core strength and advanced yogis, to name a few. If you have an ailment, body ache or alignment concern, this channel most likely has a video that will address those matters.
The Bad Yogi channel is geared toward the yogi that is not perfect, without perfect form or a perfect body. In addition to full-length videos and short tutorials, the Bad Yogi provides fitness, nutrition and life tips for all of you ‘bad’ yogis out there. This channel also has a 4-week yoga challenge with 20-minute or less videos and a 10-day yoga ab challenge if you are up for it.
Enjoy & namaste!