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Joined: Feb 2004
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Amoeba
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You just inspired me to do some yoga this morning. I really need to get into a routine!

Started with some Sacred Seated Yoga positions but wanted more so I got out of my desk chair for some sun salutation poses!

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I did a full yoga session this evening when I woke up about 6pm. My schedule is quite off, but yoga still begins my wakefulness time! smile


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Someone asked if yoga should hurt. Here's my response.

Yoga should NOT hurt. Yoga is about gentle stretching and holding. If something hurts, you should stop. It could be you are pushing your body too hard for its current strengths. It could be something about the specific position simply does not work well given an injury or other situation with your body. There should never be pain. There should be gentle stretching.

For me, yoga is intensely pleasurable. It feels wonderful to press into the spinal twists – as if I’m receiving an expert massage. Lowering down from bridge, vertebrae by vertebrae, is sheer bliss. I’ve heard from many other yoga practitioners that they feel the same way. So that is something to look forward to, if you’re just getting started!


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A few notes:

These posts contain my personal sequence I do each morning as a flexibility / core strength routine. I separately do a cardio routine. Flexibility, strength, and cardio are the three aspects of exercise that are good to include in a weekly health plan.

It could be that your flexibility or core strength happens to be less than mine. That when you go into the hurdler’s stretch, you cannot press your chest against your forward leg. That when you forward bend you cannot press your palms to the floor. That you can’t press your feet flat on the floor in downward-facing dog. That is fine!! We all have different levels of flexibility. Modify the positions so they provide the level of challenge you need.

You should never compare yourself against any other person. Our bodies are different. Our muscles are different! Only focus on your own body. Listen to how it works. Over time you will have different capabilities, as you age and change. That is natural and OK. The sole goal should be as healthy as you can be for the moment. To improve in ways you can improve and to be at peace with your body’s limitations.

It could be that your flexibility or core strength happens to be more than mine. That in plank you easily hold the pose for two minutes without any arm or stomach stress. That is wonderful! If some of the poses are too basic for you, in my configuration, there are always ways to modify them to add challenge. Look up the options and adjust them to fit your current strengths.

That being said, many of the poses, such as Warrior, are not meant to be “hard.” Mountain pose, for example, is not “hard.” Rather, it is about becoming more aware of your body. It’s about tuning in and learning to listen to all the myriad of messages your body is sending to you. It’s about discovering the subtle balance and shift of muscles as you breathe. Hold the pose and simply breathe. Listen. The more you settle into poses like this, the more intimately you come to understand even the slightest changes in specific muscle activity.


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More Notes:

There’s no race. Go slowly, gently, smoothly, and listen to your body.

This routine here takes me about an hour to finish from start-to-end. That’s because I know it and don’t have to refer to any notes at each stage. I simply move from pose to pose and hold each one the amount of time that works well for me. I hold a spinal twist until I’m “done” – and I move on.

When you are just starting out, you’re going to have to figure out how each pose works and keep referring back to this thread to see what to do next. That means it could easily take you an hour just to get through the beginning section. That’s all right! If that’s the case, work on section two tomorrow and section three the next day. Then cycle through them again.

The more you practice with the routine, the more familiar with it you’ll be. The more you’ll know how to do each pose without looking it up. The more you’ll settle into the pose without having to think carefully about hand alignment or foot alignment. The more you’ll move from pose to pose without checking your notes.

It’s like any other task in life. Someone who is learning to knit has to give careful thought to the movement of the needles. Someone who’s been doing it for a while can mindlessly knit while watching TV. Give yourself time to get comfortable with this new routine!


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More thoughts smile.

Yoga, like meditation, often creates a myriad of confusing expectations in the mind of a beginner. Maybe they expect monk-on-a-mountaintop serenity at the end of a first session. Maybe they expect the answers to the world’s problems to flower in their mind in a kaleidoscope of blossoms.

Probably the one truism is that whatever you go into it expecting, it probably won’t be that smile. So, with that being said, here are a few thoughts.

Yoga should not hurt. Always listen to your body. If something is hurting, that’s a sign that you pressed your current capabilities a little too hard. Ease up a bit. Be gentle with yourself. Always listen to what your body is saying and respect it. You can do a little more the next day, and the next. There is no race. Build your capabilities over time and you’ll be amazed how far you get.

Yoga’s aim is gentle acceptance. Release any stress about “doing it perfectly” and aim for “doing it the best I can today.” Don’t judge yourself against experts on YouTube who have been doing this for years. Simply aim to have your own body be a little better than it was yesterday. Think of each session as a curious exploration of where your body is today. Aim for “that’s interesting!” rather than “Jeez, why can’t I do that?” Breathe deeply. Praise yourself for your efforts.

The first few times that you do yoga it will probably feel awkward and perhaps uncomfortable. You are doing things your body hasn’t done before. You are stepping out of your comfort zone. That is all right! That is wonderful. It builds strength in your body, your brain, your lungs, your circulatory system, and many other aspects of you. It helps buffer you against stress and even shore up your immune system.

As you get used to the routine, most people come to think of it as comforting and familiar. The poses will feel good physically. It’ll be amazingly wonderful to settle into that spinal twist. Your muscles will sigh with joy as you reach for the sky.

Your brain will ease, too. Stresses will melt away as you settle into the familiar, comfortable poses. You’ll forget, for a while, about whatever is pressuring you. Your focus will be the snuggly blanket of motion which you are enveloped in.

It will be like a virtual vacation that can be summoned at any time, in any location. It will be a high-end spa treatment which is wholly free and helps both your body and spirit.

For the beginner, hang in there. All of the benefits are within reach – and they’re not that far away.


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ABOUT KRIPALU YOGA (my chosen style)

I could easily write a massive tome about the history of yoga and the many branches of styles. I’ll keep this brief, because the thread's focus is on my personal routine, not on a history spanning thousands of years. Still, I think it’s good for a person to have an inkling of what they are doing.

Yoga’s roots began in India in around 500BC. To simplify, it is about helping your mind focus and your body be healthy. It is not a religion – yoga is practiced by a wealth of different cultures. It is simply about helping the body and mind be as healthy as they can be.

Yoga is practiced by Christians, Buddhists, athletes, CEOs, stressed parents, and just about anybody else who seeks calm and focus in their life, along with a healthy body.

Kripalu yoga in particular is a sub-branch of Hatha yoga and traces to an Indian who, in 1965, founded a yoga society in Pennsylvania. He named his practice after his guru, Swami Kripalvananda. The core tenets of this style are gentle acceptance and relaxation.

When you watch yoga on TV or in videos you’ll see some styles are wildly energetic or involve extreme contortions. They have practitioners sweating in saunas or exhausted after dancing around for hours. Those are all wonderful styles of yoga – but they aren’t what Kripalu is about.

Kripalu is intended to be slow and gentle. It’s about developing flexibility and core strength, rather than cardio. Typically in Kripalu there is no sweating at all. The heart rate is not rising. Instead, it’s about relaxation. About gently becoming aware of your body’s strengths and capabilities. About slowing down and relaxing. About stretching and developing core strength.

I do recommend also having a cardio aspect to your weekly routine. Each human body needs three main types of exercise – flexibility, strength, and cardio. Kripalu yoga helps you build the first two. Add in some fun cardio activity during other parts of your week, and you’ll have an ideal weekly routine to sustain your health for years to come.


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Enjoyed my #yoga session this morning - I actually did it at dawn! We'll see how long this new sleep cycle lasts, where I'm awake during daylight hours smile. If you're not doing a bit of yoga each day, I highly recommend it. It infuses you with energy and makes your body feel lovely.


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Yoga is cumulative. Every little bit counts. I am a night person and enjoy yoga under the stars. When it's warm enough.

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You are so right. Any type of pain is your body warning you that you are probably going to far. I always tell students to go to their personal edge, but not beyond. Sometimes it takes a few times to find that edge so by moving slowly in and out of poses you will gradually find your limit.

Sometimes my back will pop out during a pose and yes that does not feel good. I immediately come out of the position, but even then I move slowly out of the pose because "fast" in yoga can cause injury. I see so many people just rush out of a pose when I say to release it, no matter how many times I say release slowly. I think you miss some of the great feelings from yoga by moving out of a pose too quickly.

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