5 Realistic New Year’s Resolutions

We all make resolutions, all the time. (Not just on New Year’s.) Whether we realize it or not, we attempt to make small (or large) promises to ourselves that we think will make us better or improve our lives in some way. Maybe you told yourself last night to skip a second glass of wine. Or perhaps you’re thinking about cutting calories to lose a few holiday pounds in January.

Whatever promises they may be, you’re making them. We all are.

But this New Year’s, let’s all try to make kind resolutions. Kind to others, kind to ourselves, and kind to anyone who may be affected by them. Most importantly, let’s try to stick to resolutions that are for us, not for others.

Here are 5 resolutions that are not only kind, they’re realistic, and they’re worth some heavy consideration:

Prioritize Sleep

Many of us don’t do this. Instead, we prioritize our to-do list, which often means less sleep. Sleep is vital to our health, and when we don’t get enough, we suffer very obvious consequences: exhaustion, adrenal fatigue, weight gain, lessened productivity, poor eating habits, and general declined health.

Your to-do list will always be there; it evolves daily, and will never be completely done. So stop living for the list, and start living your life–a life that is often extended and happier when you get better quality sleep.

Actively Seek More Face Time

This suggestion is not to be confused with Facetime on your iPhone. We mean real face time—face-to-face interaction with other human beings without distraction. Communicate the old-fashioned way, and take note on any differences you notice. Text less; talk more. When you are conversing with someone, give them your full attention.

It’s been said that we only need 3 things to be truly happy: financial stability, the consistent feeling of being needed or depended upon, and good personal relationships. Oddly enough, it’s often the last point that most people overlook.

So don’t. Make 2016 the year for genuine interaction, and reap the emotional benefits that come with it.

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Practice Being Still

You can do this by meditating for 5 minutes each day. 5 minutes might sound silly, but you know what? Not all of us can commit to even that. It’s too bad, because studies show that meditating for just 5 minutes every day can improve sleep and stress levels, provide clarity, and increase the amount of time you spend feeling thankful or having gratitude.

If you make this a routine just before bed, you will manually shut down your body and mind, and allow your thoughts to wander and rest. This sets the stage for a great night’s sleep, which you now know is so important.

Don’t Count Calories; Just Eat Well

Resist the urge to pull out the calculator or write down everything that makes its way into your mouth! Stop it. You don’t need to do that, if you just eat well. Here’s a trick: before eating (or drinking) anything, ask yourself one question:

“Will this nourish my body, and provide the right kind of energy for growth and repair?”

If the answer is yes, then eat it. If the answer is no, then don’t. It can be very simple—we just need to be conscious when choosing what to consume.

Eat consciously.

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Mindfully Work on Your Yoga Practice

This last suggestion may sound like a plug for yoga, and it is. Yoga is good for your body and mind. It feeds your soul. It stretches your muscles and ligaments, and lubricates your joints. It forces you to breathe slowly and deeply, thereby taking more oxygen into your blood stream. Yoga encourages you to find love and peace within yourself, and contributes to self-love and appreciation. It’s kind and centering and often results in positive realizations and feelings of blissfulness.

So work on your yoga practice.  Even if you commit to 2-3 days a week, your life will improve as a direct result.

The Bottom Line

This new year, year 2016, resist the urge to make resolutions that may not be realistic or kind to yourself. “I’ll lose 10 pounds!” is neither of those things. Instead, commit to a healthier life, and greater happiness will follow. Let go of the rest.

We hope to see you here in January!

Happy Holidays, and Namaste. Love, PY.

Fascia and Flexibility

Most people believe that by stretching muscle groups, they will improve their overall flexibility, but that’s not totally how it works. Fascia, a protective casing around isolated muscles, is responsible for how flexible you actually are. If the fascia is pliable and soft, then your muscles are able to stretch more. But if your fascia is tight and under-worked, it becomes almost like thick, brittle plastic and prevents your muscles from stretching to their full potential. Left in this state, it also can lead to serious exercise-related injury.

There are 5 common muscles (or muscle groups) that often suffer from hard, thick fascia:

Hamstrings

Hamstrings are the worst. The fascia that surrounds this muscle group is often super tight and inflexible, due to sitting or standing too much, as well as from not stretching properly after intense workouts. These suckers are persistently tight, and require daily attention.

One of the best hamstring stretches, is ‘legs up the wall,’ or Viparita Kirani. Simply lay on your back, facing a wall, with your bum pushed right up to the wall, and your legs straight up. Holding this position for a couple of minutes every day is great for your hamstrings, and also helps to recycle old blood that tends to pool in our feet when we stand and sit too much.

If this stretch is too easy for you, and you can’t feel a stretch, try doing a standing forward fold, or Uttanasana, instead. (Pictured below.)

Forward Fold

Hips

Hip soreness and inflexibility is a frequent complaint among people who engage in physical fitness. Often, the fascia surrounding the hip socket is so tight, that it prevents natural rotation, which in turn contributes to a tighter lower back and hamstrings.

(See how that’s all connected?!)

Sitting with your feet together, knees out wide, is a great hip-stretching pose. You can do this two ways: you can assume an extended child’s pose (Balasana; pictured below), or you can simply sit up straight, on your bum, with your feet together in the middle, and knees out to the side, making sure you maintain a long spine and good posture (Baddha Konasana – Butterfly pose)

Either way, your hips are being stretched.

Other great hip openers include pigeon pose (Kapotasana) and frog pose (Bhekasana).

Parallel Yoga

Lower Back

Many people don’t notice how tight their fascia is in their lower back, but if you ever receive lower back massage, it’s typically painful and difficult to maneuver.

This is because of your tight core fascia.

The lower back is a hard one, so to properly stretch and work the fascia in this region (as well as the next region), we recommend using a foam roller. Foam rollers can be purchased for around $40, and they’re designed to work in a pressure-and-release type of way. That is, you place the roller on the base of your lower back, and then very slowly roll your body over the roller, holding in particularly sore or painful spots.

This type of fascial stretching isn’t nice feeling; it can actually be painful. But once that roller is removed, you can feel as instant release of tension as your fascia softens.

This works. You can purchase a foam roller at our studio, or you can also try using a tennis ball to relieve fascial tension.

Foam Roller

Quadriceps

Like the lower back, quads can be difficult to stretch to the point of fascial release. Again, we totally recommend using a foam roller to help achieve the type of softening that will allow your muscles to stretch properly.

Laying on your stomach, place the roller just above your knees. Using your arms, slowly roll back so that your legs move across the roller. Pause at particularly tight spots, and breathe through the discomfort. The more painful this process is, the more you generally need to do it. Tight, plastic-like fascia needs to be stretched, because allowing it to get worse can contribute to exercise-related injury.

A great yoga pose for helping the fascia surrounding your quads, is dancer pose (Natarajasana).

Glutes

Finally, we have the glutes. This muscle group is huge, and it has an equally huge job when it comes to maneuvering your body. Often people who have sore lower backs think that the lower back itself is the culprit. In actual fact, tight glutes can totally contribute to lower back pain!

Two fabulous poses that help to soften the fascia in this area are pigeon pose (Kapotasana) and figure-4 (Eka Pada Utkatasana). Deep lunges are also beneficial, and if you can hold them for more than a minute, your body will love you!

figure 4

By consistently working on softening and stretching our fascia, we can make huge strides to achieving better flexibility. If you’re interested in attending a yoga class that is absolutely fantastic for improving and toning your fascia, try restorative, or better yet, yin. For our class schedule, see HERE. For more on fascial stretching, click HERE.

Namaste!

Love, Parallel Yoga.

4 Yoga-Inspired Smoothie Recipes

If you’re practicing yoga on a regular basis, chances are you’re a fairly health-conscious person. So at Parallel Yoga, we’ve come up with 4 smoothie recipes fit for a yogi! The following smoothies are delicious, nutritious, and full of yoga-inspired goodness.

Please give them a try and let us know what you think!

Green smoothie

Green from A to Zen

As the name may imply, this smoothie has everything in it to get your body to where it needs to be. It can serve as a full meal replacement, and because the nutrients are blended, it can be absorbed and used by your body almost immediately. (No heavy digestion necessary!)

Between this smoothie and your deep, conscious breathing, you’re giving your body an excellent start to the day. Throw a little yoga class in there, and your body will love you. Go find your zen with this smoothie.

Ingredients

  • Handful fresh spinach
  • 1 kale leaf
  • ½ cup frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 scoop unsweetened hemp protein powder (like Vega)
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds and/or shredded coconut (to garnish)

Method

  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Sprinkle with chia seeds (or coconut) to garnish, and enjoy right away.

 Banana oatmeal smoothie

Breathe & Banana

This banana-heavy smoothie is chill and full of protein and potassium—a mineral imperative for great heart health, and for facilitating the conduction of impulses in nerve cells.

“Deficiencies of potassium have been linked to an increased risk of hypertension, kidney stones, osteoporosis, carbohydrate intolerance, stroke and cardiovascular disease.” (1)

This smoothie is a great heart helper!

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen banana (peeled)
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp. almond butter
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. chopped walnuts and/or a sprinkle of oats (to garnish)

Method

  1. Combine the first 4 ingredients in blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Garnish with a walnuts (or oats), and drink immediately.

 Raspberry smoothie bowl

Yin/Yang Smoothie Bowl

Sometimes you want smooth, and sometimes you want a little crunch. This smoothie bowl gives you the best of both worlds!

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen banana (peeled)
  • 6 frozen strawberries
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
  • ½ cup vanilla soy milk
  • 1 tbsp. chopped pecans (to garnish)
  • 1 tbsp. Pepita (pumpkin) seeds (to garnish)
  • 1 tbsp. hemp hearts (to garnish)

Method

  1. Combine the first 4 ingredients into a high-speed blender (like a Vitamix).
  2. Blend until thick and smooth, adding a little more soy milk if necessary.
  3. Spoon into a bowl, and garnish with pecans, pepitas, and hemp hearts.
  4. Eat with a spoon, and love every second of it.

*If you want even more crunch, feel free to add some granola.

 Smoothie

The Tropi-Calm

Similar to Breathe & Banana, the Tropi-Calm is a calming, muted smoothie that is high in vitamin C and iron—both of which need each other to be absorbed properly. Think of this smoothie as centered, balanced, and perfect for restoring harmony in your body.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 mandarin orange
  • 1 cup pure coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened, shredded coconut (to garnish)
  • 3 chopped dried apricots and/or slice of orange (to garnish)

Method

  1. Blend first 4 ingredients well.
  2. Pour into glass, and garnish with coconut, apricots and orange slices.
  3. Drink immediately!

References:

1- http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/potassium-good-body-6475.html

 

Yoga for the Brain

Any yogi out there knows that yoga works to tone muscles—all muscles—even muscles you didn’t know you had. (Am I right, or am I right?!) BUT: yoga is also a brain toner. Although today’s society places enormous value on being physically fit, a happy and healthy life is about achieving and maintaining a solid degree of mental health, too.

You might not see it, but our brains need fitness!

Yoga is amazing for working on the state of our mental health, and for many reasons. These include the following:

The very nature of yoga is mentally calming.

Think about it: yoga is a slow practice, with many poses held for a minute or longer. You are encouraged to breathe, clear your mind, and to focus on yourself. There is often calming, meditative music accompanying the class, and no one is forced to do anything that might be outside of what might be realistic for their own body.

If you come to class with your mind racing, you can pretty much bet money that it will not be when you leave, not that we’re encouraging gambling.

Yoga for the Brain

Yoga incorporates physical poses with mental strength and stability.

Often while being talked through a specific pose, the instructor will ask students to clear their minds, focus on the pose, breathe through it, and to acknowledge then send away outside thoughts not pertaining to the moment.

This builds mental strength.

When you can recognize a random thought, and mentally be capable of pushing it away for the purpose of maintaining a clear and positive mind, that’s amazing! By practicing yoga, we learn how to control negative thoughts and how to create and seek positive ones.

Honestly, it’s like free therapy with a side of stretch.

It forces you to breathe, and take a minute.

For those of us who are a little (or a lot) type-A, we sometimes need to be told to chill. We value lists and productivity and usually forget to take time to just be.

Yoga helps with that!

Think of savasana. Unless you want to be busted getting up and leaving in the last 5-10 minutes of your class, you have no choice but to lie down, get comfortable, and zone out. And? It’s considered just as valuable, if not more, than the rest of the class was.

Savasana

Many poses allow for increased blood circulation to the brain.

Poses such as forward fold, downward dog, wheel, and others inherently increase blood flow and therefore oxygen to the brain. By being in a position where your head is physically below your heart, your brain reaps the rewards of extra oxygen circulation.

I mean, if our brain was where our feet are, we’d probably all be geniuses and very mentally healthy. Yoga helps us switch it up every once in a while!

Here’s the bottom line: yoga is not just a physical practice—it’s a mental one, too. The more you attend yoga, the stronger you can become everywhere. We might be a little biased at Parallel Yoga, but we think yoga should be covered by our medical plans. Right?! (Maybe we should all lobby for this…)

Namaste. Go feed your brain some yoga!

3 Big Reasons You Should Take Care of Yourself First

Even writing this title made me initially feel kind of selfish, because somewhere along the line, we’ve been taught to take care of others first, and ourselves second. But lately, I’ve been learning that this is a recipe for disaster. Because as much as you might want to make sure every little thing  is perfect for everyone else, the fact is, it will never be close to great if you’re exhausted, resentful, and unrealistic about how much you can take on.

It’s exactly like you hear in every single airplane spiel you’re forced to endure before taking off: in the case of an emergency, put the oxygen mask on yourself first; help others around you second. Here are 3 reasons why practicing self-care is not only necessary, it’s critical:

burn out

If You Don’t, You’ll Burn Out

Sure, you may attend every PAC meeting out there, make homemade scones for breakfast every morning, and throw the best dinner parties on your block. But have you meditated lately? Or just sat and consciously breathed for a few minutes? Or attended a yoga class?

Running around and making everyone else’s life easy and breezy may be fun, and you might enjoy the praise, but you will burn out. Make sure to take the time to get proper rest, eat nutritious meals, and do a little soul searching once in a while.

If you don’t, you’ll feel it sooner or later.

Good Mental Health is the Foundation of a Good Life

No one can improve this but you—you need to make a specific, conscious decision to be mentally and emotionally healthy. Everyone strives for physical health, but what about mental health? Mental health is more important, because if you do encounter a physical health problem down the road, good mental health allows you to maintain a positive attitude and make good decisions for yourself.

To make sure you stay on the path to good mental health, practice it daily. Write in a journal every night. Be thankful. Show others that you’re grateful for their love and support. Attend yoga classes regularly, and do other forms of exercise, too.

Working out definitely lends to increased physical health, but even more important, it helps to strengthen your mind.

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You Teach Your Children and Partner to Respect Themselves

When other people see you make the consistent and conscious decision to take care of yourself first, they will naturally want to do the same. Show your family that meditation is a worthy practice. Cook great, healthy food and eat it regularly. Teach your children how to close their eyes and breathe in deeply to help calm themselves, or even just to feel better.

It’s so important that we practice what we preach around our families; it’s the only way to ensure that good self-care habits are routinely part of our family life. The last thing we want to do is teach our kids how to be stressed out or grow up needing to be viewed as perfect. So don’t! Instead, show the people around you (the ones you actually love and care about) that you value self-care.

Namaste.

6 Things to Consider Before Buying Your First Yoga Mat

When you found yoga, you got excited, right? Most people who come to the studio for their first time are amazed at what yoga really is, and what it can help them accomplish. Mostly reputed to require bendy bones and fascia made of Jell-o, people are delighted to learn that they don’t need to be flexible, and expensive yoga gear is not required. You can simply show up in your old sweatpants and t-shirt, borrow a mat, and follow directions while listening and modifying poses according to the wills of your own body.

Pretty rad, right?

But after a few classes, and once you begin to feel really comfortable with the idea of incorporating this invaluable practice into your life on a regular basis, most people want to invest a little and buy their own yoga mat. While it may seem that all mats are created equal, we are here to let you know that they are not.

(Sorry!)

Here are 6 things we wish we’d known before we purchased our own mats—so read up, and you’ll ultimately save yourself some coin

Not all mats are created equal.

It’s true—they’re not even close. Before you purchase your mat, there are a handful of things to know about the difference of yoga mat quality. These days, you can pick up a mat almost anywhere, but do you want to grab a $20 mat from your grocery store?

Nope.

Why? Read on…

Mat

Buy brand name (aka: spend some coin).

Yep—we said that. We can personally guarantee that when you pick up a cheap mat from Wal-Mart, you’ll be replacing or modifying it within mere months. Less expensive mats break down faster, and are usually made from chemical-smelling plastics, like PVC.

Brand name mats are better, because aside from using better quality materials, that yoga brand knows yoga. They know what yogis need in a mat, and they care about making sure their product represents their brand. Like any brand-name product, it will cost more, but in the long run, it’s a better investment.

Check out this awesome Manduka mat HERE.

Go for thick, not thin.

If you buy a thin mat, you will feel like you’re practicing on hardwood. Even Child’s Pose will hurt the inside of your knees. Look around the studio next time you’re in: if the class is full, we would estimate about 20% borrow a studio mat to place under their own to make it more comfortable.

Thicker is better.

Try it before you buy it.

Honestly—throw the mat on the floor of the store, and get busy. (Doing yoga.)

Test for thickness, stickiness, and texture. While keeping in mind that as your yoga mat breaks in, it will develop more of a grip, try and determine whether or not it feels right. If you’re spending the dough, you want to make sure you’re happy with it.

yoga mat

Think about the environment.

This tip will sound kind of weird, but when you purchase a mat made from eco-friendly, recyclable materials, it will usually break down faster. Although definitely trendy, cork mats don’t last long at all, and 100% cotton mats are not even close to slip resistant—not what you want to discover while in Downward Dog.

The best course of action is to buy something that will be durable; something that will last a long time. It creates less waste, and will ultimately be better for the planet.

Match your mat to your practice.

When purchasing a mat, you’ll want to consider what type of yoga you typically engage in. Yin? You want a pretty thick mat. Hot? You want a mat with lots of texture to give you more grip while you sweat.

That kind of thing.

At Parallel Yoga, we sell mats that we KNOW are quality—our instructors use them, and we can personally endorse their effectiveness and longevity. If you have questions about them, ask us. We want you to know what we know about props and products that will affect your experience in our studio.

Because ultimately, the outcome of your practice depends on the entire experience, not just how well you were able to relax in Savasana (which also depends on the comfort of your mat).

Namaste!

5 Ways to Create a Zen Space at Home

We all need a space in our homes to dedicate solely to mental and physical health. Why? Because whether you lead a busy and stressful life or a simple and relatively drama-free one, having a space where you can find Zen, meditate, breathe, stretch, and commit to your yoga practice if only for 5 minutes a day is important, and should be prioritized.

You don’t need a large space for this. If you’re thinking that we’re suggesting you dedicate an entire room to this concept (although that would be awesome), we’re not. But we all need a quiet corner to seek peace and tranquility on a daily basis.

Here are 5 ways to carve out a calm space in your home, so that you can get your Zen on as often as you’d like:

Carve out a Corner

Simple spaces

Find a space in your house where you can be by yourself. If you’re a parent, this usually means the bedroom or another room that your kids don’t frequent often. (Because let’s face it—we love them, but they are the opposite of Zen-promoting.)

The space you choose should be one you love, and one that makes you feel good. Once you nail down a space, make it your own. Here’s how:

Let in the Natural Light

Open those blinds, crack the windows, and let the fresh air and light shine in. Light is proven to immediately affect mood. Think about it: are you generally happier on a dark, blustery day, or a sunny, light one?

Natural light plays a major role in regulating mood and even our hormones. Without the benefit of consistent natural light, we can suffer health consequences, such as depression, insomnia, and weight gain.

Go Green

go green

Keeping some greenery thoughtfully placed around your space may help you feel more Zen. We are naturally connected to the earth, and her creations can help us feel calm and in sync with nature.

Countless studies have found that benefits to keeping plants in indoors spaces include lower blood pressure, increased attentiveness, lessened anxiety, and increased environmental mindfulness. If you think your space is too small, check THIS out and get creative.

Keep it Simple

This is imperative. Think of any yoga studio you’ve ever been in: a resounding theme is one of wide, open spaces, simplistic décor, and flat, clean walls. Even the colours are similar: generally, light colours and simple/no textures.

When you live in a simple space, it gives your brain less external stimuli to work through, and more time to process other things. (It’s like your digestive system: give it a ton to work with, and all your energy is diverted to processing food. If you eat simply with the idea that less is more, your energy can be reserved for other bodily processes, and not just focused on digesting that huge meal.)

Tailor your Tunes

Any yogi would agree that music plays a massive part in the Zen-making experience. So making sure your tunes are in line with your intentions—to be calm, focused, and introspective—is an important part of cultivating a space where you can collect yourself and increase the Zen.

Because we all need to feel Zen every day, for at least a few minutes. Right? If you’ve read through this blog post and are unsure of what exactly ‘Zen’ is, then click HERE.

Namaste.

5 Ways Yoga Can Help Young Athletes

When you have a competitive kid, you’ll do anything to help him or her gain an edge on the competition. For years, professional sports athletes have been trained in ballet and other types of dance to increase and fine-tune agility and fine motor skills. The trend in athletes going vegan in order to cut down on recovery time and increase overall energy is only getting stronger.

So why not throw in yoga?

Yoga is beneficial to all of us in so many ways, but for young athletes, yoga can contribute positively to a variety of factors that increase athleticism and related skills. Here are 5 examples of how yoga can help our children get ahead in athletics:

Boy leaping to catch a baseball

Physical Awareness

Let’s face it: yoga helps to develop a unique relationship with one’s body. It forces you to learn about it, to know where you can push yourself, and when you need to stop. The effects yoga has on your body are quick and obvious, so that the more you practice, the faster you’ll see your body change.

For a young athlete, yoga can help bridge the gap between brain and body, the emotional and physical. In relation to sports, this is helpful because your mind is powerful, and your body responds to signals your brain sends to it. By learning, through yoga, that your body will do what the mind envisions it doing, young athletes can become better competitors, both physically and mentally.

Flexibility

This one’s a given, right? One’s flexibility literally determines how far one can bend and move. If movement is held back by tight muscles and fascia, then you can never experience the full scope of your ability. It only makes sense that flexibility can help or hinder one in sports—especially in regards to recovery. Which brings us to…

Injury Prevention and Resolution

Yoga is extremely helpful in the realm of preventing injuries, as well as treating current ones. There are countless studies that cite the positive effects that yoga has on prevention and treatment of spinal, hip, back, and hamstring injuries.

And it makes sense!

By routinely stretching your body and using your own body weight to put pressure on specific muscle groups, you are strengthening and toning in a much safer way than any other.

Young boys playing soccer

Fascial Fitness

Fascia is a tight web of muscles that encase larger muscle and joints. It takes extra effort and conscious care to knead and stretch fascia properly, and yin and restorative yoga is great for this. If left alone, fascia quickly becomes hard as plastic, and equally as inflexible.

The head trainer for the BC Lions Football Club (Chris Boyko) takes care to make sure his players conduct fascial stretching every day—it’s that important.

Cognitive Competence

Yoga positively increases mental health. Like any exercise, yoga increases circulation to the brain, which increases oxygen deposits, which make you feel better.

But unlike other practices, yoga is all about care and acceptance and finding a deeper connection to your whole self. It allows for deep breath and downtime and calmness and a different type of movement than what’s found in other activities.

Parallel Sports Performance

Our sports performance studio has just opened. Offering sport-specific yoga for the individual or team, we can custom build a program for you! If you’re interested in checking it out, or have questions for Kara, please contact us HERE.

Namaste!

Yoga Doesn’t Take Time; It Makes Time

We get it: between school drop-offs and pick-ups, plus trying to get homework done before earlier bedtimes, September can be a crazy busy month. But that doesn’t mean you should let your yoga practice fall by the wayside. Rather, embracing and sticking to your yoga practice can be helpful for keeping you calm and focused during the otherwise hectic time. Plus, yoga can help you to feel more energized throughout the day, whether it be a kundalini or power yoga class to invigorate you, or a yin or restorative flow class to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Practicing yoga is an excellent way to practice self-care and get a chance to make time for yourself, whether it be heading to a class at a local yoga studio, popping in a DVD, or simply exploring your own flow.

Benefits of Making Time for Yoga:

Yoga

Get a Boost

Yoga is great for so many things, and improved energy is one of them. Not only does an invigorating yoga practice help to naturally boost your energy, but yoga can also help improve sleep, leaving you feeling more rested overall. Plus, the energizing and calming breathing you learn in yoga class can translate to your everyday life, giving you something to rely on during your day-to-day.

Take Quiet Time

Chances are you’re constantly (or nearly constantly) tethered to your smartphone or laptop. Yoga gives you an opportunity to shut things down and disconnect, if even for 5 minutes. Yoga is an excellent, quick vacation from technology, and leaves you better equipped to deal with challenges when they arrive post-practice. Plus, if you’re a busy parent, your yoga practice can be your “me time.”

Prioritize

It can be so easy to try and please everyone and say yes to everything, but it isn’t always the healthiest. By making time in your day for exercise, whether it be walking, taking a yoga class, or heading to the gym, you’re putting yourself and your health first. From here, you can begin to prioritize about what’s really important to add to your calendar and what you may be better off without.

Tips on Making Time for Yoga:

Yoga In The Park

Start Your Day Off Right

Heading to bed a few minutes earlier and practicing yoga when you first wake up is a great habit to get into – you may even find it gives you a better boost than your morning coffee! Not only does it help you begin your day feeling more centered and help you fit in some exercise before your day gets started, but yoga has also been shown to make you a quicker, better thinker, which can help you be more efficient throughout the rest of your day.

Make Yourself Accountable

It’s easy to justify to yourself why you can skip out on that yoga session. But if you make a commitment to hold yourself accountable, you’re more likely to show up. Try registering for a class in advance and scheduling it in your calendar, or make a plan to head to a studio with a friend.

Be Flexible

Not that kind of flexible. Flexible with your time. It can be hard to commit to a full yoga class – especially when you’re not in the mood. However, something is better than nothing! Try to keep a mat in your office or bedroom, so you can roll it out and do a quick practice during the day. It’s also a good idea to try to do a shorter workout than skipping it altogether. Oftentimes, you’ll find you end up sticking it out through the whole thing.

yoga

Bottom Line?

You don’t need to feel like taking time for your yoga class is taking away time from your responsibilities. Rather, making time in your day for yoga can have many benefits – especially when you’re crazy busy.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone & Get Comfortable with Yoga

We all know that stepping into your first yoga class can be overwhelming, especially if the other class members seem to be twisting themselves into a pretzel with no problem.

I mean a pretzel. Come on.

But it’s important to remember that yoga is called a practice for a reason: you’re not meant to be perfect with it.  Yoga is also by definition a really personal journey, and if you can begin to focus on yourself throughout the class, you’ll gain a lot. You can also learn about being more compassionate, both to yourself and to others, by facing your fears head-on. All of those hardcore yogis and instructors are also totally excited to have someone else come and join them in the practice they love so much. So we definitely think you should just get out of your comfort zone and give it a try.

Here are some ways to help you get over your feelings inadequacy in the flex department, and begin to allow yourself to honour your body, mind, and soul through yoga:

Focus On Yourself

One of the major themes of yoga is self-realization, or focusing on your own journey. Sure, you may not be able to get your heels on the mat in downward dog like your neighbour might, but if you begin to focus on your own progress, you’ll see that you’re making big strides. Remember that you are doing yoga for you, not for anyone else. You’ll also notice throughout class that modifications are encouraged, making it possible for any pose to work for you, no matter what your abilities might be.

Arrive Early

Arriving 15 minutes early gives you a chance to chat with your instructor and let them know you are new to yoga.  This will give them a chance to keep an eye on you during the class, and provide assistance by way of cues and help with body positioning. They might also be able to help you out before class with some terms that you may find helpful to know. Arriving early also gives you a chance to relax as you roll out your mat and get prepped before class begins.

Know Others Are Rooting For You

It’s easy to think that hardcore yogis might be judgmental when someone new to yoga steps into the class, but the reality is anything but. Your fellow students and the instructor are excited for you! They all remember what it was like to be the new kid in class, and are genuinely happy to share how much they love yoga with you. Open-mindedness is a big part of yoga, so this is a great first step.

Find a Class That’s Right For You

We all have different goals in mind when we decide to take up yoga. You may be looking for a more meditative type in order to relax and take some time for yourself. Or, you might be an athlete looking to cross-train with yoga in order to gain strength and flexibility. When you find the class that is right for you, and is the right combination of class type and instructor style, you’ll love it even more, which will help increase your comfort level.

Embrace the Nerves

In many ways, the time that you put in on the mat translates into everyday life. Chances are, you’ll encounter nerves and uncertainty again. But the time that you put in to overcome them by heading to a yoga class can help you gain confidence in your daily life and learn to work with the nerves, not against them.

So go on. Get out of your comfort zone and into Happy Baby. You know you want to, and at Parallel Yoga, we’re here to show you how.

Namaste.