Beginning Your Yoga Journey (Without the Intimidation)

Yoga is everywhere these days. All over the world, more and more people are discovering the excellent benefits of practicing yoga. Although the physical and mental benefits are more than impressive, sometimes people who are interested in trying yoga find themselves intimidated and unsure of where to start.

Here are some possible concerns of those who are intrigued by yoga:

  • Maybe you think that you are not strong or flexible enough.
  • Maybe you aren’t graceful. You’ve never been able to do a cartwheel, let alone stand on your head.
  • Maybe you don’t know where and how to start.
  • Maybe you are nervous about joining a class when you don’t know what to expect.

These thoughts and feelings are all natural. The world of yoga may be unfamiliar territory and you may be worried that you’ll embarrass yourself or wont be able to keep up with others.

In this article, we will explore yoga with the intent of making it a little less intimidating and give you insight and tips that you need in order to get started on your journey. We will discuss the basics of yoga and talk about where and how to get started.

Everyone can do yoga. And you can begin your journey at your own pace and even in your own preferred style.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is Yoga?

Yoga originated within the Hindu religion, in India as early as 26,000 years ago.

Yoga includes spiritual, mental and physical practices.

The word yoga can be translated as “union”. The purpose of yoga is to disconnect from the outside world and to connect (or create a union) your mind and body with the universe.

Yoga involves physical movement as well as breathing techniques and exercises. Practicing different physical postures aka Yoga poses (or asanas) exercises and engages your body as a whole and helps to stretch, tone, and increase flexibility. Yoga poses help to relieve stress and pain, allow you to relax, and rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. 

Now that you know a little background information about yoga, lets explore different options on how and where to get started!

Every person is different. We may all have varied preferences and comfort levels when it comes to trying new things. Luckily, in the world of yoga, there are many ways that you can get started. There are plenty of varied settings and learning tactics that you can explore in order to decide what works best for you. Lets look at some different options together:

 Start from home watching tutorials. In this day and age, we have easy access to unlimited amounts of  information. Thanks to platforms like Youtube, we can explore countless accounts that offer beginner yoga lessons. There are complete beginner videos that can walk you through a quick yoga workout and introduce you to some basic poses you can practice. Along with Youtube, you can purchase instructional beginners DVDs, explore yoga apps, read books about yoga etc. The knowledge is out there, waiting for you to explore and familiarize yourself with the world of yoga. You can even pay for your own, personal, private virtual yoga studio classes. This is a great way to get the experience of a class, with the instruction of an expert, from the comfort of your own home.

Venture out into the real world and try a beginners yoga class. Going to a physical yoga class can be intimidating. You may not know what to expect and this uncertainty can be uncomfortable. Since this is all new to you, you don’t want to be completely clueless with a bunch of yoga masters twisted up in pretzels. Don’t worry, there are level one, beginners classes that you can attend. This means that all of your fellow classmates are going to be new to this, just like you! Any good yoga studio will have a knowledgeable, patient instructor, ready to assist you and walk you through each pose with ease.

Go a little early to pick out your spot. Not rushing in will make you more comfortable. There will likely be a designated area to keep your socks and shoes. Don’t be shy! Introduce yourself to the instructor. You can tell them it is your first time and you are unsure of what to expect. Let them know of any injuries that you have so that they can offer you different modifications of each pose if need be.

When the class is complete, the instructor will likely put their hands together, bow to the class and say “namaste”. The meaning of namaste is to say “I see you, I honor you.” In order to participate, place your empty hands together in prayer stance. Place your hands in front of your chest and say “namaste” as you participate in a small forward bow. Repeating this is your way of saying “thank you” to the instructor.

Do your own thing. Your yoga journey can be as laxed as you wish. Put on some relaxing tunes. Stretch and do what feels good. There have been times where I have literally spent hours just stretching out my body and doing what feels good/right. There may not have been any actual official yoga poses involved at all. Just a lot of me laying on my living room floor, moving around and holding different stretches/positions wherever I felt any tension. As long as you are peaceful, and focusing on your breath and the needs of your body, you are doing something right. You can keep it as casual as you’d like. Stretch throughout your day whenever you get the chance!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts where we explore additional tips for beginning your yoga journey including yoga props you may need, ways to stay motivated, beginner yoga poses, tips on incorporating yoga into your schedule as well as reviews on some of my favorite yoga clothes and gear.

Yoga Confessions

It’s time for a little truth bomb. Like the rest of you, I am working on my self-development. I think it is important to call ourselves out on our own bull shit from time to time. This way, we can bring awareness to the areas of ourselves that we need to improve and focus on.

I’ve done the research, I know the incredible benefits of yoga and preach them to my clients.

Here are some yoga facts for you:

Physical Benefits of Yoga:

  • Boosts immunity
  • Improves posture
  • Builds/tones muscle
  • Improves flexibility
  • Increases joint mobility
  • Reduces chronic pain
  • Reduces migraines
  • Improves your overall balance
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Increases lung capacity
  • Improves heart health
  • Increases blood flow
  • Decreases blood pressure
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Improves sleep
  • Eases digestive issues

Mental/ Emotional Benefits of Yoga:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves your ability to focus
  • Increases serotonin levels, making you feel happy
  • Increases awareness
  • Improves mental calmness
  • Improves overall mood
  • Increases mindfulness practice
  • Improves symptoms of depression, PTSD, schizophrenia

Pretty incredible stuff, right? Despite knowing all of these amazing benefits of yoga, and sharing this knowledge with others, sadly, I’ve been slacking on my practice. For far too many consistent days, I’ve allowed myself to accept the excuses that I create to avoid pulling out my mat and spending a few minutes reconnecting with myself. Day after yoga-less day passes by, until suddenly it’s been months since I’ve dedicated the time and it SHOWS.

It’s easy to allow life to get in the way of really listening to your body and what it needs. The world doesn’t slow down just because I’m dealing with some back pain. So what do I do? I ignore it and keep powering through my day. I have work to do, a family and home to take care of, there is no time to slow down.

While ignoring my problems and plowing through seems like the only option at times, it is an unhealthy and self-destructive choice. If we do not practice constant mindfulness and pay attention to what our bodies need, the pain and stress will not be relieved, it will only worsen and escalate into more problems. If our needs continue to be ignored, we will eventually find ourselves in a complete state of suffering, until we are completely incapable of avoiding our needs.

I preach the benefits and importance of yoga to others, but lately I have neglected my own personal needs. While I can come up with a bunch of reasons why I cannot seem to find the time or energy to practice, in the end, practicing yoga is what my body needs. If I am not taking care of myself and my own needs, I will be unable to function properly and won’t be able to help to anyone else! We cannot pour from an empty cup, as they say. If we don’t make our physical and mental health needs a priority, we can find ourselves in some really unfortunate situations that can be very difficult to climb out of.

This is one of the reasons why practicing mindfulness is so incredibly important. Mindfulness is about being in a state of awareness. By practicing mindfulness, you can easily assess what your mind and body need in any given moment. It may seem like an involuntary, obvious thing to do (being aware of what your body needs) but without actually stepping outside of the subconscious mind and taking the time to live consciously, we aren’t being mindful of ourselves. Consider that the mind is typically driven by the subconscious mind nearly 95% of the time. Isn’t that insane? We literally run on autopilot mode the majority of the time, unless we can make the time to practice mindfulness, step outside the 70,000 thoughts that pass our minds daily and live consciously. Are you practicing mindfulness on a consistent basis? Reflect on the way that you feel. and what your mind and body may need to stay healthy.

Here are a few signs that you may need some yoga in your life:

  • You have tense, stiff, sore muscles/joints
  • You feel stressed
  • You are feeling anxious
  • You are unable to focus/ think clearly
  • You are tired, restless or having difficulty sleeping
  • You spend too much time sitting
  • You are having difficulty breathing
  • You are having difficulty regulating thoughts/emotions
  • You feel lost or overwhelmed
  • You have pore posture
  • You want to get into shape
  • You are looking for ways to relax and unwind

Don’t let excuses stop you from being your best self. Look, I get it. I’m busy too. I work, I’ve got two kids, most days, it doesn’t seem like there will be enough time to achieve my goals. But there will never be enough time unless you MAKE the time to work on yourself and your self-development. Join me in this adventure of self-improvement. Whether that is through yoga or adapting any healthy habit to create a better version of yourself (meditation, reading, writing, eating healthy, exercise, painting etc.).

We HAVE to listen to our needs and take the time to focus on ourselves. Our own relationships with ourselves set the tone for all other relationships that we have. Self-love should always be a top priority. Make the time to listen to yourself. Do whatever you can to fit things in your schedule that serve you and are related to your journey of self-development.

In order to create new, healthy habits, they need to be practiced consistently. Otherwise, we will not be able to create a routine and will slowly find ourselves slipping into our old, less healthy habits. Listen to your mind and body. Practice mindfulness and be aware of what you need. We must learn to make the time. Even if we are super busy, all the more reason to adapt healthy habits such as yoga in order to mentally prepare ourselves for a busy day or to unwind before bed.

I have made the personal decision to stop slacking and truly incorporate yoga into my daily schedule. If you are interested in joining me on this journey, please stay tuned for new upcoming posts. I will be sharing my personal yoga journey and stories. Whether you are an advanced, expert yogi or simply interested in learning more about yoga and considering practicing for yourself, you’ll find great tips and insights here. We will talk about how to get started with yoga, how to create goals for yourself and incorporate them into your schedule, different ways and places to practice and more! I will also be sharing my own personal reviews on yoga/meditation products, props and clothing.

I look forward to your company on this journey. Please feel free to reach out here or on my Instagram page @Youniverseinyou and share some of your own tips and tricks. I’d love to hear about your journey and any advice that you have for someone who is in the beginning stages of their yoga practice.

And as always, visit my Instagram for daily inspiration and feel free to message or email me (youniverseinyou@outlook.com) for your free Mindset Coaching Consultation. 

Positivity and Action

You can wish for a better life more than anything in the world. You can want it so badly that you cannot focus on anything other than how you long for things to change. But, obsessing over your problems brings no solutions.

Being positive and confident that things will drastically improve is not enough to get us to where we want to be. Instead, we must remain positive AND take action in order to reach success.

Set your intention. Tell the universe what you desire. Focus on what you want and generate the feelings that you will finally have once you receive your desire. Once you have set your intention, create a plan! We cannot accomplish our goals if we do not put plans in action and dedicate our time to the cause.

Keeping a positive mindset is absolutely necessary for achieving goals. With a pessimistic attitude, success cannot be accomplished. Confidence, good feelings and fearlessness are required. Positivity and perseverance are the key components of success.

Taking action to bring your goals to life while maintaining an optimistic outlook create the balance that is harmonious with the laws of the universe to successfully manifest your desires. One could long to be a successful and talented painter, but will never reach these goals unless they dedicate time in life. Pick up a brush and paint! Read books and watch videos about painting (love me some Bob Ross), learn everything you can. Become obsessed with your goals (in a healthy manner of course)!

Everything is about learning. Learn how to spend your life doing what makes you happy and the rest will fall right into place. Bad experiences occur, but unless you leave the experience grateful that you were able to recognize a valuable lesson and make different choices in your future; your life cannot improve.

It is difficult to be grateful for a situation that has impacted our lives heavily. But, life is trying to speak to you. Pay attention and be grateful for everything you learn, for without these struggles, it would be impossible to improve and break negative patterns.

Realistic Positivity

If you are like me, then you have heard of the Law of Attraction and have fallen in love with the concept. The idea makes so much sense, and there is no doubt in my mind that this force is working, whether it is to our advantage or not.

I first came across the Law of Attraction a few years ago, in a time when I seemingly needed it the most. I watched “The Secret”, I read a few Jerry and Esther Hicks books and I was completely blown away. The idea of positive thoughts and emotions leading to positive results seemed so obvious, yet I was always focusing on the negative and unsure of why my life was less than satisfactory. I was completely determined to take control and finally attract the life that I always wanted.

I learned very quickly that monitoring my thoughts and feelings and shifting my focus was no easy task. But as days and weeks went by, it became progressively easier. After about a month of nearly constant positivity, not only was I happier than ever, but I had manifested several goals I had set for myself. I trusted in the universe and allowed my life to drastically improve.

At some point, however, I fell off track of my new outlook on life and allowed stress to consume me. I suppose it is “easier” to focus on what is not going right. It is “easy” to get caught up in a victim mindset, and once you do, it is a terrible snowball effect of self-destruction.

After years of continuously trying to learn and stay positive while experiencing some difficult life situations; things have become a bit more clear. Thinking that everything in life will be perfectly magical is unrealistic. Although we can make life great, it will not always be rainbows and unicorns.

Life will always have unexpected twists and turns. Although there may be difficult times, it is not these moments that define us; it is how we react when life throws us these curve balls. One of the biggest misconceptions about the Law of Attraction is that you have to constantly always be happy-go-lucky. Lost your job? No problem, be positive. Going through a breakup? You’re fine- just think happy thoughts. Your dog died? Just keep smiling… No, this is real life. And real life can bring forth some serious emotions.

Rather than pushing away all of our negative emotions, it is important to work through them. If we keep pretending that everything is perfect, it may end up backfiring. Bottling everything up for the sake of being positive may not always be the best route.

As humans, we have emotions for a reason. They are meant to guide us. At first, I thought, if I am feeling sad, I have to always quickly divert my attention and reach for another thought, forcing myself to be happy. This theory is really helpful if you are trapped in your own mind and overthinking. We are often our own worst enemies.

However, life is full of challenges that test us with all of our being. When an event occurs that affects you deeply, you must work through the emotions that follow. If something makes you sad, then be sad. Allow yourself a good cry and to mourn for a time. But then, pick yourself back up and face what lies ahead. If you are angry, then be angry. Scream in a pillow. Release your anger and refocus yourself.

We are blessed with the gift of emotions. This gift gives us the ability to learn what we accept and allow. If you are unhappy with something, then realize that recognizing your feelings is the first step to making yourself whole. If you don’t like something, then change it!

We all have more power within us then we realize. Any obstacle can be overcome. We can make something of nothing and reach unimaginable feats. Listen to what life is telling you and always follow your intuition.

Nothing can break you. Not without your permission.

 

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Focusing on Positivity

Every day is a blessing. Take a minute to give gratitude for another day. Even if you feel you have nothing to boast about, you have been given a new opportunity. Every day is a chance to change your life. You have the power to make today and everyday positive, productive and beneficial to your future and goals.

We all aspire to be happy, but life often seems difficult. What we need to learn is that challenges will always come and go. It is likely that these difficult situations will repeatedly arise. However, it is not our circumstances that determine our happiness yet rather it is our reactions to our circumstances. We can either dwell on a negative occurrence or we can learn from the situation and focus on what we are thankful for. My favorite analogy is to “float downstream.” Struggling and fighting against the current does not make life any easier. Go with the flow and let go of feeling poorly about a situation that is out of your control.

We often get so caught up in our thoughts. Thoughts easily turn negative as worry, anxiety, sadness, anger or fear consume us. What most people do not realize is that recognizing negative emotions is the first step to finding our own happiness. Our emotions are a direct result of our current thought process.

Maybe that seems obvious. Or maybe you are thinking it is obvious you are going to feel bad if your circumstances are less than adequate. But the issue is that we often confuse the thoughts in our head with actual reality. Science cannot really explain where our consciousness comes from. It is unknown where our thoughts derive from. But amazingly, we do have the power to take control our own thoughts.

Two people may experience the exact same situations and circumstances. But one person may be able to process the situation more effectively than the other. While one person facing a difficult life situation may feel defeated and consumed by despair, the other may accept the situation and focus on the hope for improved circumstances. There is what really happened and what your mind has perceived to be reality. Life truly is what you make it.

Our emotions can guide us in the sense that we can gauge when we should shift our thinking. If we are feeling badly, we must be focusing on thoughts that do not bring us joy. Shift your thinking and in turn your emotions. Your negative energy is contagious, and just the same, so is positive energy. Chances are, we have overcome more difficult situations. And even if not, you’ll be amazed by what the human spirit can endure. Just make sure to learn a lesson from hardships and move on, even stronger than before.

Small, Consistent Efforts

It is the end of a long day. I’ve survived another 8 hours at work, enforced homework, made dinner, bathed the baby and tucked the kids into bed. Literally all I want to do is kick back and relax before I pass out and have to start all over again. Unfortunately, relaxing is far-fetched when I look around the chaotic shambles of my house, looking like a scene straight out of Twister. Three days ago, I spent the majority of my Saturday cleaning this place and it is already a wreck. I am feeling defeated. I do not have the time or the energy to make this place shine right now. Plus, Netflix and Ben & Jerry’s sounds way better.

I spent way too much of my adult life reenacting this situation. But finally in the past year, I have adopted the concept my father tried to instill in my brain and have significantly improved my daily life.

Small, Consistent Efforts.”

Every time my father said the phrase, I would suck my teeth and roll my eyes. But truly, the concept is simple and effective. Remember Mr. Rogers? Of course you do. Every time Mr. Rogers took off his sweater, he hung it right up and put it in his closet. Clearly that demonstrates small, consistent efforts. If Mr. Rogers didn’t take the time to place his sweaters on the hangers and put them away, he may have just tossed them on a table or his couch. And soon, he would be drowning in a sea of laundry.

As a psychology major, I’ve conducted a bit of research on the concept of messy home, messy life. It is evident that mess causes stress. Disorganization, clutter and mess can cause anxiety, leave people feeling overwhelmed and even depressed. Our ability to focus is compromised and over stimulation can occur. A messy environment is frustrating and leads to guilt and embarrassment.

“A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

If you aren’t living like Mr. Rogers, then it is probably time to start. Dedicating a little time as you go along is much more efficient than waiting for a disaster and having to spend hours cleaning up. Cleaning as you go daily can quickly turn into a habitual lifestyle. Washing a dish after you eat is more beneficial than waiting for a sink full of dishes. I’ve also learned to force myself to fold laundry right out of the dryer. Otherwise I will have piles and baskets full of clean laundry for days and constantly glare at them with dismay (terrible, I know).

Creating a schedule for other chores is a good idea to keep things in check as well. For example- designate a specific day of the week to sweep, mop, vacuum etc. Keeping all of the rooms clean and sanitized reduces stress and also illness.

The best part about “small, consistent efforts” is that it can be applied to all aspects of your life. Say you have a project you are working on (writing, a painting, something for work or school), consistently putting forth a bit of effort will get the job done. Or another example would be exercising. If you put in a half hour to an hour of exercise every day, overtime you will see results!

So if you ever have difficulty keeping things under control, give the “small, consistent efforts” theory a try. Let me know what you think. And if you have any other tips, please share them with me here!
And please check me out on instagram @youniverseinyou

Finding Happiness 

No matter who we are, regardless of where we are from, we are all seeking out the same thing: happiness. Unfortunately, for many people this task is often too difficult. Obstacles sometimes are tough to conquer and it is hard to shake our bad luck and the hand we were dealt, right? What if we could really change our own lives and finally find happiness? We can, and it starts with the way that we feel.

We are living in a world that is driven by popularity, power, technology and physical appearances. People envy celebrities who’s lives seem more luxurious then our own. We compare ourselves to people who can easily change who they are and even how they look because they have enormous amounts of money. Money that we could only dream of having. We are stuck judging others and even ourselves due to unrealistic perspectives on how we should look or what we should wear or drive etc. Modern technology has allowed even us common, non-celebrity folk to view people’s lives with the swipe of a finger. We compare ourselves with others and that needs to stop.

Jim Carrey said, ” I think everyone should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see its not the answer.”

Let’s be real- a couple of million dollars, quitting your day job, retiring to a tropical paradise and the ability to have any object we desire sounds pretty damn good, doesn’t it? Of course it does. It’s things we dream of, to escape our own realities. But what is our reality? Reality is only an illusion and really only dependent on one’s perception. You’ve likely heard the expression- “life is what you make it.” We desire these outer things to create happiness within us: money, looks, someone to love us etc. When the actual reality is that we are the only ones that can bring ourselves happiness,

Too often, we focus on our lack, instead of what we are grateful for. When we focus on what we lack we don’t feel good. Why would anyone desire to spend their time in life feeling bad? If we focus on what we are grateful for, we feel better. It is completely impossible to feel bad if you are focusing on your blessings. Really allow yourself to think about each thing you are thankful for and generate the feelings of gratitude.

We can still strive for goals. But instead of focusing on the lack of something, why not dream of what you want in a positive manner? For example, if you feel like you want or need more money, why don’t you spend your time being hopeful that more money will find its way into your life? And imagine the things you will do with the money and how it will improve your life overall. This is where people will say- “because I’m a realist!” Well again, what is reality? You have two choices regarding every situation in life. Be positive or be negative. It really is that simple. Even negative situations can have a silver lining and an opportunity to learn something of value.

If you are in need of money, does beating yourself up being anxious and depressed allow you to have money? Of course not. Alternatively, focus on what you do have that you are grateful for and then focus on how good obtaining more money will make you feel. If you are focusing on the negative of having no money or lacking the object or goal you desire, then you are feeling despair or fear that you don’t have it and that you cannot get it. So how about being hopeful?

Being positive about situations can genuinely improve ones state of mind and overall happiness and well-being. If we are stressed, we are not living in the moment. We are anxious about either something that occurred in the past or will happen at some point in the future. And the stress that this can cause is extremely unhealthy. Sickness and disease are caused by just that-dis-ease. Learning to relax and go with the flow of life so to speak is a healthier life style choice. Chronic stress affects your central nervous system, respiratory and cardiovascular systems, digestive system, muscular system, reproductive and immune systems. Constant worrying and anxiety creates chronic inflammatory conditions and weakens your body’s ability to fight off infection.

Every cell in the human body reacts to negative emotion in a negative way, creating a negative vibration. And all we are, all everything in our realities are, is a collection of atoms, constantly vibrating. That is why people talk about good vibes and energy. We are receiving what we are sending out into the universe, just like a frequency. We need to be hopeful of things working out in our favor. If we do not believe in and allow our own success, we cannot achieve it.

Choosing to have a more positive mindset is wonderful, but it is also necessary to take action. If you have something that you want or a goal you wish to achieve, then you need to work at that goal, consistently. Referring back to the money, you cannot win the lottery if you do not buy a lottery ticket. You cannot reach your goal of becoming a concert pianist if you do not practice playing. You cannot build enough strength and balance to do a handstand if you do not train yourself to do so, everyday. Focus on your goals, be positive they are attainable and do something EVERY DAY that brings you that much closer to your goal.

Ask yourself every day- what did I do today to bring myself closer to achieving my goals?