Back in November I wrote about how I was actively thinking about doing yoga regularly. I’d bought a Non-Sucky Yoga DVD and was trying to figure out how it was going to fit into my life. At that time this is what I said needed to happen for me to actually do yoga, rather than just think about it:
I consider this actively moving towards beginning a yoga practice. Issues I need to sort out to actually do it: Which exercises are the best for me to start with? What time of day is best? How to cycle through different series with different goals? What I should wear? And whether I have suitable props to assist with poses that I might need help with?
Here I am not even 6 months later and yoga seems to be a regular part of my daily routine. Here’s how it seems to be working:
I’ve been alternating between the Spine Series and the Infant Series on the Paul Grilley Yin Yoga DVD.
Most of the poses are easy enough even for a beginner. He explains things really well and gives options. Now that I’ve been doing it for a while, I use the alternate audio option so I don’t get all that explanation and have some calming music instead. But in the beginning the talk is really helpful. And his voice is quite soothing.
I don’t do anything he describes as “climactic”. This is clearly code for “only Gumby can do this”. It took me a while to figure out how to adapt but here are my current adaptations. They might not make sense unless you have the DVD and have tried both series, but if you decide to try this, you could come back and see how I’ve done it.
The Infant Series: Snail pose is impossible. And I find Cat-tail difficult and uncomfortable. For a while, I would just stop when they started snail pose. This makes it shorter (about 30 minutes) and is a good option to begin with.
Now, I skip that middle bit. There is a fast-forward button on the remote for a reason. I figured out that between the forward bends and the back bends he puts in a twist. There is a good twist before snail post — Twisted Roots — so I fast-forward while I’m resting after Twisted Roots and start the DVD playing again while they are resting after Cat-tail. Then I finish the whole sequence.
This series is a good combination of long stretches that unkink your back and some wake-you up movement near the end.
The Spine Series: This one is more yin (watch DVD1: Theory for an explanation). So great for getting your back really stretched out. It has that Snail pose in the middle though with a Cat-tail following as the transitional twisting movement.
For this one, I add in Twisted Roots and start it when they start Snail. I position myself so I can see the clock on the DVD player and hold Twister Roots for 5 minutes on each side with about a 2 minute rest in between. This takes me to about when they are done Cat-Tail. I fast-forward a bit if it doesn’t come out quite right.
The third back bend (Saddle pose) is also “climactic”. I used to just turn off the DVD off at that point, but now I substitute Camel pose (which is in the Infant Series) and it seems to be hitting the same sorts of muscles and the same kind of back bend.
The PDFs that come with the DVD, if you buy them from Havi, have some other ideas for adaptations. Havi’s a proper yoga teacher and everything and skips Snail pose, btw. She says she also often does just the first part of the Infant Series, stopping when they get to Snail, and just sitting for 5 minutes to end.
What time of day?
I’ve been doing this in the morning. I tried before breakfast but there were too many days when I felt a bit woozy. So now I get up, brush my teeth, eat breakfast, and then do yoga. Then I shower and get dressed. It seems to be working well.
How to combine different series?
I’ve been sort of alternating between the Spine Series and the Infant Series. Until recently, I also do an aqua-fit class one day a week and a women on weights class one day a week.
That is changing because of the move, but I plan to get the trainer from the weights class to help me with a routine I can do at home. So I’m going to try to do a weights workout a couple of days a week and yoga the other days. I figure that variety is probably good.
What should I wear?
This kind of connects to when I do it. Pyjamas. Works great for me.
Obviously if you are doing yoga out of the house with other people, you would need a different solution. But alone in the living room? Pyjamas.
Do I have the props I need?
Last November, I think I was thinking of the kind of stuff Paul uses in the Non-Sucky Yoga DVD (the Spine Series, in particular) for things like Snail pose and Saddle pose. Not doing them clearly eliminates that problem.
What I discovered was that the ligaments in the backs of my legs are kind of short. So I find forward bends a lot easier if my legs aren’t completely straight. A rolled up towel under my knees has been a good addition to the Spine Series practice. And to begin with a couple of throw cushions from the sofa under my knees in Butterfly helped, too.
I think that if/when I start trying Cat-Tail again, I will have a scarf or something handy because I can’t always grab that foot I’m supposed to grab.
DVD vs. Class
While I understand the value in going to a yoga studio and having a teacher who can help me, I don’t want to pay for another fitness class. And I’m moving to the country which is going to limit my options and involve driving.
Furthermore, to do a 1 hour class at a studio, I’d have to add on travel time, and buy something suitable to wear. A class is working well for Mat, who likes to write first thing in the morning and finds a noon-hour class breaks up his day nicely. But the choice for me was the DVD or nothing.
The extra stuff that Havi packaged with the DVD in her Non-Sucky Yoga promotion is really helpful. As with any information product, no one is going to use all of it. For example, I’m not keen on the mp3 but I know other people love it. The key thing is that she gives you permission not be all bendy like the models in the DVD. And explains what’s really hard, even for experienced people. And help address your own stuckness around the practice. When you compare the price to taking a class, it’s more than reasonable.
I really like doing yoga most mornings. I still don’t do it when I travel, which is probably silly because travelling gets me more stiff and cranky than being home. But when I travel I also tend to have stuff to do earlier in the morning. I’m not going to get up at 6 a.m. to do yoga!
In addition to generally feeling less stiff and kind of scrunched up, it is also quite calming. I’m not great at meditation so my mind wanders all over the place while I’m doing it, but I think it is calmer than it might otherwise be. I don’t purposefully think. I just let thoughts wander in and out.
And I’ve noticed a difference in how far I can bend already. I’m convinced by the points Paul makes in the Theory DVD, which is interesting in itself.I’m seriously tempted to get his Anatomy for Yoga DVD. Heck, it might even qualify as a homeschooling science resource