On December 29, 2010, I made an early New Years resolution to do twenty minutes of yoga every single day no matter what. I have since kept that resolution, and this past Monday marked 1000 days of yoga practice in a row. In honor of this accomplishment, I have decided this week to answer your yoga questions. Keep in mind that I am not a certified yoga instructor, nor do I play one on TV. I am merely an enthusiastic yoga practitioner with a desire to spread the good word of yoga. Without further ado, here are your yoga questions:
Have you seriously done yoga every single day no matter what?
Yes, I have.
How do you do that?
Sometimes I practice in the morning, sometimes afternoon or evening. I’ve practiced in an airport, in a campground, and in our ren fair booth before the fair opened, with and without spectators. If I have a busy day ahead of me, I plan to wake up early. If I’ve had a busy day already, I do a relaxing routine before bed.
What about when you’re sick, injured, or recovering from surgery?
In the past 1000 days, I have experienced each of those things. At such times, I have practiced in three to five minute increments with long breaks in between until I hit the twenty minute mark, or used props like yoga blocks, rolled up blankets, foam rollers, and stability balls. Always remember there is a pose called Shavasana, or “corpse pose”, which consists of lying on the floor. This still counts as a yoga pose.
You’re only able to do yoga every day like this because you don’t have kids.
I’m not really seeing a question here…
What are the benefits associated with regular yoga practice?
Regular yoga practice is great for calming the mind, stretching the muscles, and impressing other people when you tell them you practice yoga. It doesn’t matter if you’re overweight, unorganized, or frequently unZenlike: as soon as you say, “Oh, sure, I do yoga every day,” people reassess their opinions of you. It’s the easy way to be a hipster. You can either cram your legs into skinny jeans and listen to indie music no one likes, or you can do yoga and drink pumpkin-spice lattes.
What's a good way to control my breathing during yoga?
Try my personal creation: Karyoga, or karaoke yoga (patent pending). Create a new playlist of familiar songs with words you remember. Name it "sing-along". Play it. Do the hardest sun salutation you know while singing like you have a drunk and forgiving audience. Karyoga is great for group practice, provided your group agrees on musical preferences. You can also take turns being the drunk and forgiving audience.
Yoga mats are expensive! What's the best way to take care of my yoga mat so it lasts a long time?
Don't do yoga on it.
I'm thinking of starting a meditation practice. How do I do that?
Congrats! Thinking about meditating totally counts as meditating! Remember to bow and say “Namaste” afterwards, as that makes it official.
How do I keep up a yoga practice while traveling?
That's actually impossible. You'll have to stop traveling for at least twenty minutes.
Can I practice yoga with my toddler?
Yes, but it would probably be better to find a certified yoga instructor, or perhaps a video. Toddlers tend to be naturally flexible and are therefore harsh yoga instructors with unrealistic expectations.
What makes a good yoga routine?
A good yoga student.
What part of my body is likely to be most affected by yoga practice?
The psoas muscle. Yoga literally works muscles you never even knew you had. Only yoga practitioners can have entire conversations about the psoas muscle, because no one else knows what it is.
Why do all yoga routines seem to end in Shavasana?
Because it’s really hard to start a routine in Shavasana. No one wants to get up afterwards.
Is there a time of the day that is best to do yoga?
Yes, right after you finish it. It never seems like a good time before you start.
Do I need to be in good shape to start doing yoga?
No. In fact, if you do it right, you’ll be in terrible shape when you finish. If you’re already out of shape, you’re actually ahead of the game.
Will doing yoga improve my sex life?
Only if your lover is into that sort of thing. Otherwise, a better way to improve your sex life is to go have sex.
I’ve heard I should practice on an empty stomach or wait at least three hours after eating. Is this true?
No, you always have the option of practicing on a full stomach and taking a vomit break in the middle. It’s a matter of personal preference. Try it both ways to see which works best for you.
What’s with all the funny foreign words in yoga?
Yoga poses have Sanskrit names, but many instructors will talk you through the poses descriptively so learning the names is optional. Feel free to make up your own names, particularly for the poses you don’t like, if that helps you remember them better. I often struggle with Pretzel Pose, Slasher-Victim Pose, and The Exorcist Pose, but your own practice will vary.
Do you have any other advice for a yoga newbie?
Forgive yourself when you can’t do a pose, but be sure to try the pose again tomorrow.
Never underestimate the power of a great pair of yoga pants.
Always remember that Corpse Pose still counts as a pose.
If you have any other yoga questions, be sure to post them in the comments. Then go practice yoga while I have you thinking about it.