Ever since I started blogging and sharing photos, family and friends have been asking me questions about yoga. With the growing number of followers on my social media sites, I have even been able to share my knowledge with complete strangers across the globe! Here are some of the most common questions I get asked. Have a question you don’t see here? Ask me!
What type of yoga is best for beginners?
This depends on a lot of factors: your fitness level, any injuries or existing conditions you may have, if you are pregnant, and a slew of other things. We all have different bodies that do different things (and your body will vary day to day!). Yoga is not just for flexible people: it is intended for those who want to gain strength and flexibility in any degree. Many yoga studios have a first class free or a deeply discounted trial period that will let you test out classes. Start with classes that are listed as level 1 or beginner, and see how you feel afterward. If the thought of stepping into a studio terrifies you, there are plenty of online resources available so you can try at home (but please be advised: I recommend trying this or any new exercise with the supervision of strained professional to prevent injury). Yogajournal.com is one of the leading publications for yoga and offers descriptions, breakdowns and modifications of most basic poses to get you started. The most important thing for yogis of any level: listen to your body! If your energy is low, your body does not respond well to a pose, or maybe your gut is just giving you signals, back out of a pose. Yoga is not a competition, and one overstretch can keep you off the mat for weeks.
What kind of mat should I buy?
Luckily, I have tested out a variety of mats and written up reviews you can read before you buy. Mats can cost anything from $20-$200 (sometimes more!). Until you find one you like, many studios will have mats you can borrow for little ($1-3) or no cost so you don’t have to heft around your own. The bonus? You get to try it out yourself, and you may wind up getting that same kind for personal use! To read more about mats and other props, also check out the article I wrote for ActivewearUSA‘s magazine: “Your Basic Yoga Prop Kit“.
Where is a good place to practice yoga?
You would be surprised how many times I get asked this by people who live nowhere near me! I appreciate your confidence in me, but if I haven’t taken classes at a studio myself it is tough to give it my personal recommendation. Many studios will offer a free intro class or deeply discounted trial packages so you can try their classes, meet the teachers, and find out if you really like the place before investing in a larger class package. A few tips: ask your friends! Chances are, you are more likely to go to class if you have a buddy with you so see if any of your friends are already going somewhere locally. Sites like yelp can be a good starting point, but keep in mind that many bad reviews are the result of “grouponer’s” who are harsh critics (moreso than people paying full price). Always check the studio website beforehand. Read about the teachers, and make sure they are either 200-RYT or 500-RYT. These two credentials mean the teacher has met industry standards set forth by Yoga Alliance and received 200 or 500 hours of training. This does not guarantee they will be a good teacher, but does mean they should be knowledgeable enough to share information and prevent injury.
Tell me about yoga during pregnancy.
My friend Sarah wrote me in Fall 2013: “I’m six months pregnant pregnant, and have pretty constant back pain. Doctor told me that stretching would be good for me, but I get nervous with all this new belly. Do you have any recommendations of poses/stretches that would be beneficial for me and safe for baby?”
TallGirl Yogi’s response: Seated poses are always a safe bet (but no twisting, since that will aggravate baby). You can sit on a pillow and fold forward, and that should be a nice release for your low back. You can also do a forward fold while standing: slight bend in your knees, take the feet wide apart to make room between your legs, and then fold forward (the baby is resting between your thigh then), but let gravity do the work to release the low back. Here is a good link with pictures for each pose for sciatica pain: . Be careful not to stretch too deeply because you’re more flexible now due to high levels of the chemical “relaxin” in your body. Doing some of the hip-opening yoga poses by badda konasana (bound angle pose) should help you stretch your hips for delivery, too. Prenatal classes at a studio are designed just for pregnant mommies, and will also help you learn to breath easier (literally) during labor.
Where some resources for tall women?
A former high school classmate of mine (and fellow long-legged lady) wrote me in early 2014: “I love your tall girl yoga posts. Do you have any favorite books or videos that are geared towards tall girls? Is that a thing? Because sometimes I really do swear it’s harder because of the extra length and there are better solutions out there… Maybe that’s just me making excuses though?”
TallGirl Yogi’s response: I put together a list of companies that make workout clothes in long lengths. I haven’t personally tried them all, but this should be a good starter list for you when you lead an active lifestyle and need clothes that fit well. The list also includes companies that offer plus and petite sizes, since I firmly believe the phrase “one size fits all” is a cruel joke! Since getting this question, I did also come across a blog written by a 6’2″ journalist, Arianne Cohen. She also wrote “The TALL Book”.
How did you lose all that weight?
If you’ve read my “About Me” section, you know that in 2013 I went through a very transformational time in my life. Losing a lot of weight required determination, hard work, and a positive attitude! I was very grateful to have the support of loved ones to cheer me on as I started to change my eating habits. Yoga played a VERY large part in my weight loss, as I was never really interested in workouts at the gym. I would occasionally get on an elliptical or take a brisk walk, but yoga was really my primary fitness routine. In addition to this, a tool that I really want to share with everyone is SparkPeople.com. This website helped me track the calories of the food I ate, the calories I burned from my workouts, and also had a great point-based system for those of you who are also Type-A personalities or are just competitive! This site (and the mobile app that came out a few years after I started using it) is something I still use to this day. They’ve never sponsored me, never asked me to review anything, and probably don’t even know who I am, but I am so passionate about what I got from their site that I want to share it with you all.