Hopefully your yoga journey has started off well. If so, congratulations! If you're looking for tips on getting started, see Pt. 1/4 which covers research, the slow fade in, gear and journaling.
Up next, Pt. 2/4, reviews off-the-mat environmental factors which will enhance your practice, such as hydration, diet considerations and fasting.
This post, is all about resources, which apps to try, books to read, Instagram accounts to check out and collecting data. Tap "Read More" to continue!
1. Social Media
When first starting, it can be challenging to stay engaged outside of class. Similar to any other changes we make, it's important to incorporate it into our regular life.
For all the shaming Instagram gets, like any other platform or tool, how it's used determines it's ability to produce results. Over the past nine months, I've made Instagram a platform of learning, inspiration and support. For example:
Holisticali -- provides wonderful nutritional information
As you like, comment, follow, share and engage with users, Instagram will continually send more related content. Take a look in the explore page (with the magnifying glass as the bottom), then, like and comment on several posts and watch as more related content immediately starts showing up. The point is to use this functionality to your benefit and learn more about yoga, how-to's and meet other people who are practicing. Before you know it, you'll be meeting your online friends offline somewhere in the world!
Downloading apps for your smartphone or tablet is a great way to broaden your scope of learning, diversify your practice between group and personal sessions and add scheduling flexibility.
When I started out, I used FitStar Yoga. The best part is how the app modifies the intensity of a class based on your feedback at the end! Now I use Yoga Studio and Pocket Yoga for two major reasons:
They have preloaded content and occasionally add more (FitStar does this too);
These apps have the ability to create custom routines, which I can then share with students.
One downfall about apps is the lack of support to check if you're doing a pose correctly, limited mention of modifications or creative use of props which can make all the difference in learning a pose. Thus while apps have an important place in your development, try to balance them with group or private classes.
To learn the muscles used in individual poses, and how to properly transition, check out i-Yoga Premium by 3D4Medical (which specializes in 3D anatomy). The app provides a detailed overview of primary and secondary muscles being used, and related stretches to help make the pose easier.
There, I said it. Yes, you still need to study. No, scrolling through the gram doesn't count. Why? Because it's too easy to become distracted. I've been looking around and found several, well-written books to recommend for your physical practice. Going beyond the physical practice has it's own slew of content.
Here are several books to get you started on the fundamentals:
Mark Stephens (forward by Mariel Hemingway) — Teaching Yoga: This book is a generally accepted foundation for many teachers. Often Teaching Training Courses (TTC) will pull content from here. It briefly covers the history of yoga, anatomy, techniques, safety, alignment and modifications of many poses, running a class, and teaching methodologies. True you are starting out as a student, however, it doesn’t hurt to learn what teachers are doing. Why? Because then you’ll know how to identify a quality instructor! Trust me, many instructors enjoy visiting other teachers classes, two of the biggest reasons are: 1. Not having to think during practice, and; 2. Observing what not to do.
A crucial component of any habit is data analysis. Having a log of your activities is both informative and inspirational. In Pt. 1/4, I discussed keeping a journal of your yoga experience to record notes and log exercises which are helpful to your practice. If you are doing this, make sure to add the date and amount of time you spend in class.
If you’d rather use a digital tracker, you can manually enter your yoga workouts in your phones' health tracking app, or, use a fitness tracker such as FitBit or Apple Watch to log the date and durations for you.
I specifically bought the Apple Watch to log yoga work outs, and track my heart rate. It does a great job at reminding me to stay active and encourages practice on those days I need motivation. Beyond the day-to-day logging, I’m able to review my workouts on a weekly, monthly or annual basis to see when I’m most active, average duration and how my heart rate has adjusted to the exercise. Watch my full Apple Watch Series 3 Review.
As you maintain your practice, and include even a little studying, you'll find your practice becomes more technical, safe and filled with options. Remember, yoga is not subject to the instantaneous, just our expectations are. Allow time to develop, grow, explore, observe and feel. What's the rush? If done properly, you can do yoga for the rest of your life. And if you do yoga properly, you'll have a long one.
Do you have any resources to share? Let me know in the comments!