Category Archives: Yoga for Beginners

Accessible Yoga: Bed Sun Salutations

Even if you have chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, or autoimmune diseases like Lyme or rheumatoid arthritis and have to spend part (or most) of the day in bed, you can still reap the benefits of Sun Salutations.

The energetic flow of Sun Salutation can be experienced lying in bed or lying on a mat. Use your creativity to explore what movements feel good in your body. Working from this position, gravity affects the body in a different way. Notice how raising your arms in front of you creates a similar experience as raising them over your head in a seated position.

See also Chair Sun Salutations

The movements in this flow tend to focus on hip and shoulder opening, which can be a great practice if you’re spending a lot of time in bed. This includes people with chronic illness, fatigue, before or after surgery, and so on.

Begin by checking your posture in bed; this is a variation of Corpse Pose focusing on comfort and stability. You can begin with both knees bent and your feet on the bed.

From Accessible Yoga: Poses and Practices for Every Body by Jivana Heyman © 2019 by J. Heyman. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.

Accessible Yoga: Chair Sun Salutation

You can still receive the physical and mental benefits of beloved Sun Salutation from a chair. If standing is painful, difficult, or impossible, try this variation of Sun Salutation to feel at home in your body.

Sun Salutation can also be done as a seated practice, which takes a little more imagination. There are two ways to approach the practice. One is to try to align movements in the chair with the traditional standing Sun Salutation so they could be practiced side by side. Another approach is to be more creative with the movements and focus on moving with the breath, getting as many major muscle groups involved as possible.

Generally, try to inhale when you bend back (spinal extension) and exhale when you bend forward (spinal or hip flexion). Sun Salutation is, by defini­tion, a series of flowing movements coordinated with the breath. Use your imagination, and see what type of chair Sun Salutation you can create. The chair can be against a wall for support or on a yoga mat to provide more traction. When practicing in a chair, be careful to keep the bulk of your weight in the chair to avoid falling out of it.

For many people, chair Sun Salutation offers a way to continue a much-loved practice in the face of injury or illness. The flow of breath and move­ment is soothing to the mind and nervous system, and it can help bring us back to the body during times of anxiety or stress. I remember one student with multiple sclerosis who was dealing with extreme fatigue. Some days she had enough energy to practice a standing Sun Salutation, and some days she preferred to sit in a chair. But either way she was able to experience this powerful moving meditation.

To begin, …

How to Use a Wall for Sun Salutation

Yoga is for every body and every level. If traditional Sun Salutation is not available to you, try this variation using a wall as support.

For a gentler practice, try using the wall for Sun Salutation.

Sun Salutation is an effective way to warm up your entire body, whether as preparation for more poses or simply to warm yourself up on a cold morning. It’s also a powerful practice on its own that can help you connect with your breath and the rhythmic movements of nature.

Sun Salutation can be made more accessible in a number of ways. You can either practice a variation of a traditional Sun Salutation series by adapting the individual positions within it, or you can remove poses or sections of the series that present the greatest challenge. Other ways to adapt the sequence include using props, such as a wall or chair, as well as practicing in bed or lying on a mat.

See also How to Adapt Asana for Each Age

Here are the main benefits of practicing Sun Salutation:

  • Warming up the entire body
  • Linking breath and movement
  • Creating a ritual, a series of movements that you can link together and repeat regularly
  • Connecting to nature 

From Accessible Yoga: Poses and Practices for Every Body by Jivana Heyman © 2019 by J. Heyman. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.

The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Your Yoga Mat

Wondering how often you should clean your mat—and the best way to remove germs, dirt, and stink? Read on.

Just how important is it to clean your mat? 

There’s nothing worse than rolling out your sticky mat before you practice and noticing a layer of grime or sniffing a subtle hint of days-old sweat. Yet it happens to the best of us, because keeping a yoga mat clean is often an afterthought.

However, think about this for a moment: Yoga mats absorb all the sweat, oil, and grime that they’re exposed to, which means they can become dirty, smelly, and even contaminated with germs quickly. To keep all that gunk off your mat, establishing a consistent cleaning routine is crucial. Craig Stiff, the director of hardgoods at Manduka, recommends “cleaning your mat after every practice or use.”

“You’re entering a sacred space when you practice, so the way you keep that space has an effect on what you get out of your practice” says Heather Lilleston, one of the founders of Yoga For Bad People. She continues, “the whole idea of the dirty hippie yogi should be thrown out the window. A huge part of practice is cleanliness.” If you can’t remember the last time you thoroughly scrubbed down your mat, it’s probably time to give it a wash.

So, Just How Dirty Is Your Yoga Mat?

In an article for ABC-13, Melanie Rech, the Laboratory Director at EMSL Analytical, examined swabs taken from personal and communal yoga mats. Mats from the local yoga studio “came back the cleanest with 3 million counts of normal environmental bacteria”, writes KTRK Houston. This isn’t the most surprising, since yoga studios are supposed to regularly wash their communal mats (whether they do or not is a different story). The results …

5 Natural Mat Cleaners You'll Love

Is your sticky mat getting too sticky? Give it a good cleaning with one of these sprays. Plus, find out how to make your own.

If you’re not cleaning your mat, you run the risk of getting exposure to harmful bacteria that can cause a variety of infections – from staph to Athlete’s Foot. Toss one of these sprays in your bag, and wipe down your mat after every class. We also recommend you wash your mat with soap and water monthly.

See also The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Your Yoga Mat

Engage and Energize Your Body (Even on Days You're Stuck at a Desk)

Don’t have time for a mat-based practice today? You can energize and strengthen your body anywhere with this simple chair yoga sequence. It’s perfect for deskbound days, or as a break when you’re feeling sluggish in your body or mind.

This sequence from Mindful Chair Yoga Deck by Jennifer Cohen Harper and Mayuri Gonzales can be done from almost anywhere and is appropriate for kids and adults. Get the book here. 

See also An Accessible Yoga Practice You Can Do In a Chair

Even Seane Corn Had an Awkward First Yoga Class

In her new book, Revolution of the Soul, social activist and yoga teacher Seane Corn details how ill and awkward she felt during her first yoga class and what kept her going back for more.

Seane Corn

After hearing about yoga for years and witnessing the changes it made in David Life, owner of Life Café in New York City, where I waitressed, and Sharon Gannon, the head waitress, I’d decided to see for myself what the hoopla was about. I’d come to Integral Yoga, where everyone dressed in white and everything was absolutely pristine. Except for me. I looked down at my gray sweatpants, grease stains on the thighs from where I had wiped my hands after working on my motorcycle. I hadn’t showered and knew without a doubt that black eyeliner and mascara lay smeared under my eyes. I was a bit of a mess.

I was told to sign in and remove my shoes, so I kicked off my black-leather Screaming Mimi combat boots and tossed them toward the rest of the shoes on the floor, but I left my socks on. Going barefoot in a public place that wasn’t a park or beach kinda grossed me out, plus I often cut and peeled the skin off my big toes and heels when I was anxious and I didn’t want anyone to see that.

The woman behind the counter, also wearing white, looked calm and sweet. I noticed, when she raised her arm to reach for something, that she had a thick patch of armpit hair. I wondered if Sharon shaved her pits. Note to self: Stop shaving, buy something white and… take a bath.

See also How to Change Your Life With Yoga

Now, Yoga

The woman behind the desk announces it is time for …