Yoga. For the longest time, I avoided it. Mainly because it just seemed to have this sort of "hippy" stigma attached to it, and I really didn't understand what benefits, other than stretching your body, there really could be as opposed to just doing some regular exercising. So why practice yoga?
Yoga is great because not only is it a body workout, but also a mental workout. It teaches you how to relax your mind by focusing on breathing and showing attentiveness to every specific part of your body. After doing a yoga routine, you may be more aware of muscles you didn't know you had.
After graduating from college and starting to work full time, I was stressing myself out day-to-day, and coming home and not knowing really how to unwind and get my mind back in a good place.
Doing a few sit ups, push ups and other random exercises weren't doing much for me. After a quick Google search, I stumbled on some really great sources about de-stressing that led me to yoga.
I don't have any yoga DVDs, or any time to go to yoga classes - nor do I really want to. I like to "do my thing" alone, in the comfort of my bedroom. It's free and I don't have anyone to embarrass myself in front of.
So, folks, this is where one of the great inventions of the internet comes in - YouTube. There are literally hundreds of thousands of free yoga videos, which led me to find one fabulous YouTube channel in particular, called Yogatic.
It's really like having your own, albeit virtual, personal yoga instructor. As long as you're equipped with a functional laptop or some kind of device that has the ability to stand upright, you're good to go.
You just need the ability to watch and follow along on the device while you're working out.
Starting out, you do not need to be flexible or knowledgeable whatsoever about yoga. The basic willingness to try is all that is needed.
Grab a yoga mat for about $6 from Walmart, but if you don't have one or don't feel like purchasing one, it's possible, although not as comfortable, to just work on carpet or a blanket of some kind. I also suggest comfortable clothes, like leggings or sweatpants and a T-shirt.
Yogatic, or Ekhart Yoga, is a channel on YouTube (there also is a website) created by a woman named Esther Ekhart. Starting officially in 2011, it is extremely new and up-to-date; very in tune with today's internet-driven culture. Currently her channel has more than 100,000 subscribers and her videos have more than 25 million views, collectively.
There is a wide variety of videos, more than 300, ranging from general yoga for beginners to videos as specific as "pregnancy post natal yoga" or "yoga in the office for neck pain," and so on.
"To give you an idea: we have yoga for beginners, weight loss yoga, morning yoga (which is energizing) and yoga for relaxation. You will find loads of yoga poses by a selection of qualified yoga teachers," a description on the YouTube channel says.
Some of the videos are as long as a half an hour and others as short as five minutes or less. Yogatic is tailored to no specific audience in particular, but rather invites everyone from all backgrounds to try.
In my opinion, she is particularly great, as opposed to other online yoga instructors, because she is so incredibly calm and explains each and every move so that it is easy to understand and keep up.
And the great thing about doing yoga through YouTube is getting behind, don't understand, need a break? just hit pause.
Give yourself a moment to stop and de-stress. Whether you try a bit of yoga before work, after work or before bed, I wouldn't hesitate to guarantee you'll feel the benefits immediately.
Visit www.youtube.com/user/yogatic for Esther Eckhart's videos, my personal favorite, but as mentioned, there are thousands out there, so find what works for you.