Tip Tuesday: 3 Great Places to Buy Tie-Dye Yoga Pants

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.

A spiral style dye from Wildflower

Tie-dye yoga pants are a bit of a Forrest Yoga thing. You can usually tell the Forrest Yoga teacher by the Grateful Dead-esque leggings in bright colors.

I know, I know, I am probably contributing to the trend of yoga commercialism in our consumer culture by even writing this post. However, who says that fun clothes don’t have a place in yoga? In the same way it might feel exciting to show up to a party in a new dress, it can feel great showing up to the yoga mat in a pair of flashy duds.

So where does one buy tie-dyed yoga pants? A few options you might try:

1. Wildflower Tie Dye These are the some of the most inexpensively priced tie-dye creations that I’ve run across. They come in a variety of colors and tie-dye designs. From looking at their sizes online, I could not tell if they had a size that would be small enough to fit me, but when I tried on a pair in a local yoga studio, they fit like a glove. Taller yogis have also given Wildflower a big thumbs up.

Happy Tie-Dyed pants

2. Shining Shakti Definitely a pricier option. Their styles and colors are terrific though, and you can feel good that their pants are made from organic cotton. Plus, how cute are their baby shakti clothes?

3. Happy Tie-Dye  Who knew an eBay store would be the source of a beloved pair of yoga pants that I continually receive compliments on? Happy Tie-Dye has great prices. You won’t necessarily find the style you want in your size, but it does mean when you find the combination that works for you, you’re likely to have a unique pair of yoga pants.

If you have another place where you’ve found snazzy tie-dyed yoga wear, let me know!

Tip Tuesday: 5 Ways to Make Yoga Affordable

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.

Yoga can be pricey. Yes, yoga teachers need to get paid and studios need to make enough to keep their doors open. Still, with the average price for a yoga class getting even higher, it can be hard for many people to afford going to yoga on a regular basis. Here are a few ways to get your yoga on without breaking the bank:

1. Look for deals Many studios offer a discount for first time students, such a a reduced rate for the first few classes or on unlimited classes for a month or a “buy one class, get the second free.” You can also take advantage of promotions through sites like Groupon, Living Social, or Yelp for discounted classes. This is also a good way to try out different studios and styles of yoga to see what works for you.

2. Go to the gym If you’re already paying for a gym membership, most gyms have yoga classes that are free to members. Don’t think that just because it is a gym that the yoga classes are inferior to ones you’ll find in a yoga studio. There are some exceptional teachers at gyms (many of whom also teach at yoga studios). In fact, it was at a gym class that I first started going to yoga regularly with an instructor who inspired me to become a yoga teacher.

3. Find donation classes Check around for any donation-based, pay-what-you-can yoga classes in the community, be they at a yoga studio, park, church, etc. Yoga studios often offer a lower-priced community class or two on their schedules.

4. Try a community center or community college class Frequently these places offer yoga classes that are often less expensive. The hidden bonus is you register for the class series, which can help keep you consistent with a regular teacher and class time.

5. Make it part of your budget Yes, yoga is expensive, but examine the cost in relation to other things you spend money on that are of value to you. Do you spend money on getting a hairstyle, going out to dinner/drinks, getting your nails done, or going to a ball game? Look at what yoga adds to your life and if the value is worth it to you, find how you can work it into your budget, be it setting aside a certain amount for yoga or by cutting back on some other activity.

How do you find ways to make yoga affordable for you?

Image credit: 401(K) 2012

Tip Tuesday: 3 Poses for Depression

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.

As I’ve shared, yoga has some terrific poses to counteract anxiety, but it can also help when you are experiencing the flip side of the anxiety coin: depression. Here’s 3 poses for when you’re feeling the blahs:

1) Sun Salutations: Ana Forrest calls sun salutes, “Yoga Prozac.” Sometimes you just need to move your body with the breath to move energy to lift you out of the hole. For added uplift, put on some fun, upbeat music as you flow.

There are a number of variations on sun salutations. Any version you like will work or you can follow the version in this video. The most important part is moving with your breath through each pose in the series.

 

Image credit: Yoga Journal

2) Elbow to Knee: Abs are a fantastic way to access your power and your juice for life that gets buried in depression.

To get there:

1) Lie on back with bent knees up, feet slightly lower than height of knees, toes active, hands clasped behind head
2) Inhale into lower back, hold the breath and curl tailbone up
3) Exhale and reach both elbows towards left thigh, reach through straight right leg, pull belly down.

Once you’re there:

1) Relax neck into the hands
2) Keep knee over the hip, not rocking forward
3) Stay up and off of shoulder blades

Image credit: Forrest Yoga

3) Dolphin: Go upside down! Going upside down quite literally turns everything upside down. The physical shift naturally shifts your perspective and bring you some uplift (er, upside down lift?) If you have a practice of handstand, this is another outstanding pose for depression (just make sure you do a pose like dolphin or another shoulder-opener before popping up to handstand).

To get there:

1) Bring hands to upper arm to measure elbow distance. Align second finger with elbow or clasp hands out in front of you

2) Wrap shoulder blades in towards armpits, flexing chest muscles

3) Exhale, curl toes and lift hips up into dolphin

While you’re there:

1) Lift up and out of shoulders

2) Reach up through hips and reach heels down towards mat to fire up legs

3) Keep neck relaxed

What poses are helpful to you when you’re feeling low?

Tip Tuesday: Where Do You Put Your Feet in Warrior 2?


Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.

The main adjustments I make in Warrior 2 or Virabhadrasana B have to do with the feet. I’m always amazed by how important foot placement is. Often by just making a slight correction with the feet, misalignments in the rest of the pose are corrected. Here’s a few tricks for getting your feet in the right place:

1) Make sure your feet are far enough apart The feet should be three and a half to four feet apart. However, unless you have a measuring tape with you, it can be tricky to tell exactly how far that is. Luckily you have a pretty handy built-in measuring stick. Reach your arms out straight. Your wrists should be over your ankles and this is the approximate distance you want between the feet.

2) Use your back leg If your front knee is bending way past your foot, it could be your feet are too close together (see above). It could also mean you’re not using the back foot, especially if you feel a lot of pressure in the front foot. Push through the outer edge of the foot on the back straight leg to help support yourself and ease the strain on the front foot.

3) Line your front heel with the arch of the back foot If the front foot is too far to either the left or right of the back foot, frequently one hip will be rolling forward with the other hip drawing back. Lining up front heel to back arch helps align the hips (and often solves the problem completely).
Image credit: Yoga Co-op

Tip Tuesday: Getting Back to Yoga

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.

Perhaps you’ve been there. You’ve been doing yoga regularly, feeling great, enjoying the benefits. Then life gets busy and practice somehow falls to the wayside; your last yoga class a hazy memory. However, you finally make it back to the yoga mat.

And it is rough. Just like getting back on a bike, the muscle memory of how to do it is there, but it is a wobbly ride. How do you keep motivated when you feel like you have so far to go?

Congratulate yourself  You did the hardest part which was starting again and putting your intention and effort forward. The other part of congratulating yourself is not qualifying it in anyway.  “I’m proud that I started yoga again, but I would not be having to start over in the first place if I had only stuck with my practice” or “I’m glad I got back to my practice, but I did very badly.” No if, ands, or buts. Just congrats.

Re-frame muscle soreness Muscles get sore because they are learning a movement that is new or unfamiliar to them. You are re-learning movements that are currently unfamiliar. Look at muscle soreness as your yoga muscles getting smarter. Frankly, doesn’t that make you feel more like practicing than it would if you just continued to berate yourself for being tired and inflexible?

Find the win No matter how stiff or out-of-practice you feel, there is something you did well. Start looking out for the small victories: staying connected to your breath in a pose, a slight opening of the hamstrings that allowed you to go a little further, or maybe you lifted that foot off the ground for just a second to balance in crow.

Remember the lightbulb moments Do you remember when you first started yoga? If it was anything like my experience, it felt clumsy and unfamiliar and challenging just to keep my left and right sides straight. Yet through the struggles, there would be these exhilarating moments of improvement. Today the poses I am most satisfied by are the ones that have been the hardest for me to learn. Starting over is a bit like being a beginner again. Know that the clumsy stage will come, but so will the lightbulb occasions when you “get” that pose again.

 

Image credit: perfectoinsecto

Tip Tuesday: How to Deal With Plateaus

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.


I have a lot of students or other folks I know that practice yoga complain about reaching a plateau in their practice. Despite practicing consistently, they feel like they aren’t progressing at all,  nor do they feel stronger or more flexible, and challenging poses seem just as challenging. Here’s some ways to deal when you feel like you’re in a yoga standstill.

1. Do something different Find small ways that you can change your practice. If you always set up your mat at a certain spot in the room, move it to a different area. Whenever you clasp your hands in a yoga pose, move your fingers over one so you are clasping hands in your non-habitual way. Vary your sun salutations by starting on a different foot each time. Take savasana with your feet up the wall, with your knees bent, or with the legs in baddha konasana. These are just a few ideas for ways you can take your usual practice and changing it up just enough to re-engage your brain and keep yourself from falling into habitual patterns that can lead you to feel stagnant and disconnected.

2. Take a break This is probably not the advice most yoga teachers would give you, but honestly, sometimes it helps to take a break from yoga. By “break”, I mean a class or two, not so long that it’s hard to come back to. Bail on one class, get a little more rest or do another form of exercise. I find that when I consciously decide to take a rest day or head off for a walk with friends instead, I start missing yoga and inevitably appreciate it more when I come back to the mat. Some of my biggest breakthroughs with challenging poses have occurred my first practice back after taking a break.

3. Cut yourself some slack…with research to back it up I recently read this terrific book* about the brain’s ability to reorganize itself and change, which is also known as neuroplasticity. Among other points, the book discusses how plateaus are a natural part of learning. At first when people are building a new skill, they progress quickly at first and continue to steadily improve. There reaches a point though where they hit a plateau and outwardly are not making any demonstrable improvements. However, research shows that these plateau periods are progress–it is a built-in part of the process where the brain has to pause and assimilate everything it has learned before it can continue to improve. So while it might not look like you’re moving forward, you actually are just at the brain assimilation phase of learning. (This is a good thing to keep in mind when learning any new skill, not just yoga). So lay off yourself already.

 

 

*If you are interested, I highly recommend checking out said terrific book, The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. Fascinating stuff!

 

Tip Tuesday: 3 Poses for When You’re Feeling Anxious

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.

What yoga poses do you do when you’re feeling anxious? Your heart is racing, adrenaline pumping, mind chattering away. When anxiety strikes, the following poses help me get grounded, tap into my strength, and quiet the mind.

1. Dolphin pose
Dolphin *seems* like it would just be a pose for arm strength, right? Actually it’s a lot about the legs. If done right, this pose will really help you feel the power in the legs to support the opening in the shoulders.

To get there:

1) Bring hands to upper arms to measure your elbow distance. Line up second finger with the elbow and work with forearms down or clasp hands out in front of you

2) Wrap shoulders towards the armpits so you feel the chest muscle (right where arm and armpit meet) engage

3) Exhale, curl toes, lift the hips up reaching up and out of shoulders.

While you’re there:

1) Keep reaching up and out of the shoulders
2) Breathe, especially into lower back, spreading breath into the ribs
3) Let your inner ankles resist one another, firing up the legs

2. Bridge pose
Bridge pose demands that you not only get into your legs, but also expand your breath out into the chest. The deepening and slowing of the breath necessary for bridge pose helps counteract the short, shallow breathing that accompanies anxiety.

To get there:

1) Lie on the back with knees bent, feet slightly wider than hip-width distance. Bring fingers down towards heels, rotate palms open.

2) Inhale and expand the breath into chest, lifting ribs away from waist

3) Exhale, press into the feet, tuck tailbone, and press hips up

While you’re there:

1) Slow down the inhale, feeling for expanding breath into upper chest, fanning the ribs towards the face
2) Tuck tailbone up
3) Press into feet, lifting and spreading the toes

Image credit: dailymail.co.uk

3. Feet Up the Wall (Viparita Karani) For those times where you’re having trouble falling asleep or you’re waking up before your alarm with anxiety, feet up the wall pose is an amazingly effective solution. I keep a blanket near a little wall space in my bedroom for just those times. A few minutes of breathing here is usually enough to help me switch physiological gears and get back into bed and sleep.

To get there:

1) Sit close to the wall with knees bent, left hip facing close to the wall. Flip the legs up the wall so they are vertical or close to it

2) Adjust hips as you need to, reach arms along floor out by shoulders with palms open

3) Optionally, you can place a folded blanket next to the wall and have this under the hips and torso with head on floor. I actually like to place the blanket over me, if I’m just getting out of a warm bed.

While you’re there:

1) Keep feet active
2) Feel neck and shoulders relax down
3) Breathe! If your mind is particularly agitated, commit to staying for at least ten breaths (and you may find you want to stay longer).

Share any yoga poses you find helpful in combating anxiety in the comments.