How to Begin a Yoga Practice At Home

We are only a couple of weeks away from a brand new year! For many of us, 2017 has been incredibly challenging year. So this is a perfect time to reflect and create new, sustainable habits to enrich your body, mind, and soul. A great example of this, and one that I would personally recommend, is to begin a yoga practice.

Contrary to popular belief, yoga is much more about focus and well-being than strength and flexibility. But with a consistent practice, you will begin to see evidence of all of these benefits and more. Here’s my advice for beginning your yoga journey in 2018.

Make a Commitment to Your Yoga Practice

The biggest downfall of New Year’s Resolutions is a lack of accountability. You can tell yourself you’ll eat healthy, save money, spend more time with family, floss every day… But if you’re the only one that will ever know if you succeed, then you don’t have much motivation one way or the other. Get clear on your intentions for beginning a yoga practice, and then commit — and do it publicly. This will depend on your personality, but share your goal with a person or group of people that will motivate you to succeed.

I made a commitment to join a 30-Day Yoga Challenge (more on that below) last year, and shared the journey on Instagram. Having thousands of others practicing (virtually) alongside me every day was great for motivation and accountability. Or better yet, find a friend or family member to begin a yoga practice with you. Whether or not you physically practice together, hold each other accountable and support each other through the process.

If your motivations are more intrinsic, commit to your goals on paper. Write them down, create trackers, record your successes and failures. If you’re a planner junkie, consider using a planner intended specifically for supporting your yoga journey:

Create Space

The more time you spend learning about yoga, the more you’ll learn than “create space” has many important meanings. As you begin your practice, I suggest you focus on these three:

  • Create space in your home: Decide where you would like to practice. You may need to move furniture around a bit. If you want your space to be more immersive, set up some scented candles or other mood lighting. I found this especially important when I practiced in the early morning: my overhead lights were too bright! The best setups for a home yoga practice are ones that don’t require much effort on a daily basis. The fewer barriers you have to beginning your practice each day, the more likely you are to stick with it!
  • Create space in your schedule: The best way to build a yoga practice is to create consistency in your schedule. For you, this may mean practicing first thing in the morning, over your lunch break, before bed, or whenever you have time. In my personal experience, morning yoga is the most effective — your brain hasn’t yet had time to stress about everything coming up throughout the day.
  • Create space in your heart: Okay, that sounds a bit woo-woo. (And that’s SO not my style!) What I mean is that you should prepare to be vulnerable and let go of your expectations. Create space for the personal discovery aspect of yoga. Take the time to teach yourself that a yoga practice isn’t just a workout regimen. Don’t obsess over nailing postures or perfecting technique. Try to focus more on the mind-body connection and on letting go of your thoughts and distractions. I have a long way to go on this, too, but we can work on creating this space together!

Find Your Tools

Walking into a Lululemon to buy yoga gear for the first time can be super intimidating. But when you’re just starting out, you only need two things: a mat, and some comfy clothes that allow you to move. (Got leggings and a t-shirt? You’re good to go.) You can do a bit of googling to choose a mat that fits your lifestyle and pricepoint. Or you can check out this post on the Best Yoga Mats from Reviews.com, which does all the research work for you! They explored 30 leading mats to determine quality choices for yogis who are eco-conscious, on a budget, or simply don’t like the cleaning process. I personally use a yoga mat from Lole, which is a great mid-range option:

If you have a few extra dollars to invest in your yoga practice, I would recommend picking up a couple of yoga blocks. They are great for beginners because they help support you in poses that would otherwise be too difficult until you improved your strength or flexibility. For example, I sometimes prop my hands up on yoga blocks in High Lunge to relieve some tension when my hips are tight. Pick up a pair here:

Begin Your Yoga Practice

Experienced yogis can practice yoga sequences on the fly. But if you’re new to yoga and beginning a home yoga practice, YouTube is about to become your best friend. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m a huge fan of the Yoga With Adriene YouTube Channel. She offers a variety of video practices for all levels that are perfect for home use. Plus, she’s about to kick off her annual 30-Day Yoga Journey — this year’s is titled “True”, and it kicks off January 1st! Sign up today right here! And feel free to join me on my True journey on my fitness Instagram account.

 TRUE Yoga with Adriene - Yoga Practice At Home 

Are you committing to a yoga practice for the upcoming new year? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

How to Prep for Your Workday Workou

Most of us are super busy these days, and it can be hard to fit exercise into that jam-packed schedule. I’ve posted before on the benefits of morning workouts, which have helped me establish a regular fitness routine. Mornings don’t work for everyone, though, so lunch breaks are the next best opportunity to get in some exercise. Plus, if your office has a gym inside or nearby, you can take advantage of those amenities with a workday workout.

But squeezing in a workout over lunch can be challenging. And I hate to say it, but the transition is even more difficult for ladies. Unlike most guys I know, I can’t have a full shower and be ready to get back to work in ten minutes flat! So when it comes to mid-day exercise, I can’t afford to waste time or effort in getting it done. Preparation is key to making your workday workout work for you. Here are some of my tips for doing just that!

Continue reading

How the Halton Parks 150 Hiking Challenge Made My Summer (1)

Since I moved to Oakville over two years ago, I’ve tried to take advantage of the great outdoors as much as I can. It helps that I live so close to Lake Ontario for lovely summer strolls. But I also discovered the Halton Parks, a collection of seven conservation areas along the Niagara Escarpment. A couple of my previous posts talked about my experiences at these parks, such as Hilton Falls and the Nassagaweya Canyon, and my newfound love for hiking. This year, they launched a hiking challenge (or trail running or mountain biking or rock climbing, depending on your sport of choice) called the Halton Parks 150, in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. My quest to complete the challenge took over my summer… in a really positive way! Continue reading

How I Became a Morning Workout Person

You know those people you see out jogging every morning? Or those people who finish exercising at the gym before you’re even out of bed? Or worse, your friends that post gym selfies or yoga poses with the sunrise as their backdrop? They are what we call “morning workout people”. Maybe they drive you nuts, but you’re probably a little bit jealous of them too. Where the heck do they get the energy and motivation to be a morning workout person?

I used to totally envy those people. The thought of waking up and working out seemed totally out of reach. But now, a year later, I’m one of them. I wake up at 5:45 (and some days at 5:20) to start my day and sweat it out. If you’re familiar with Tone It Up, my favourite online fitness community, the morning workout is so important that it has a name: the “Bootycall”. And it’s a daily occurrence, not just a few times a week or only weekdays! So how did I go from never exercising in the morning (or at all, for that matter) to putting in a morning workout every damn day?Continue reading

Four Things I Wish I Learned in High School

School is back in session! Are you lamenting the end of summer vacation (or maybe celebrating it)? I’ve been out of school for a few years now, and it still feels strange not heading back to class after Labour Day. Looking back on high school, I definitely learned a lot, both inside the classroom and out. But there are a number of life lessons I wish we’d all learned in high school. If you’re a student, know a student, are a teacher, or know a teacher, let me know if you agree! Continue reading

Tone It Up Bikini Series Non-Scale Victories

This is it: the last day of the Tone It Up Bikini Series!

For those of you who haven’t been following my TIU journey, the Bikini Series is an 8-week nutrition and fitness challenge leading up to summer. Daily workouts are a combination of cardio and light strength training. There are free and paid exercise videos, plus self-led session suggestions. Nutrition is guided by the mantra, “Lean, Clean ‘n Green”. Following the final week, there’s a more intense challenge called the 7 Day Slim Down. And you share the whole thing on Instagram to join in on the beachy fun with thousands of other #TIUgirls. Yes, it’s a bit ridiculous. But with all of the hardcore alternatives out there for women looking to get in shape, this is my favourite option. Continue reading

Hiking the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail

This weekend, Joe and I took on our greatest hiking challenge yet: the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail. The trail connects Rattlesnake Point and Crawford Lake parks by leading you across the valley between them. The Conservation Halton website lists the trail as 7.2km one way — except you have to go back, too! It’s also the only trail on Halton’s roster with a “Difficult” rating. After all the hiking we’ve done over the past couple of years, and with a beautiful weekend ahead of us, it was time to take the plunge. Continue reading

Why I'm Not Coaching for Beachbody

In the past few months, I’ve done a complete 180 when it comes to healthy living. I started exercising and eating right (for the most part…), and I shared the process on a fitness-focused Instagram account. I noticed it almost right away: these mysterious “virtual fitness coaches” saturating my feed with sweaty selfies and motivational quotes. And it didn’t take long, once my account started to gather a following, for these ladies to start reaching out to me with offers to become a coach myself. They didn’t always mention their employer outright, but I only needed a quick Google search to tell me that these women work for a multi-level marketing company called Beachbody. That’s right, the dreaded “MLM” — what some people refer to as a “pyramid scheme”. Yikes.

But the peppy posts and the promise of a rewarding, engaging, self-propelled career were getting to me. So I did a bit of research. Continue reading

Tone It Up Bikini Series

Hello, dear readers! I’ve been AWOL again for a while, but between work and the Tone It Up Bikini Series beginning last week, I simply haven’t had the energy for my poor little blog. I have mentioned Tone It Up on this page before (check that out here). But you might be wondering, “What the heck is the Bikini Series?” Friends, six months ago, I would have been asking the exact same question.

Here it is in a nutshell. The Tone It Up Bikini Series is an eight week fitness challenge with an optional nutrition component, leading up to the first day of summer. Every day you have an assigned daily workout, some or all of which you complete first thing in the morning for your “Bootycall”. (Cheesy, I know — but hey, I didn’t come up with the lingo.) Then, if you’re a nutrition plan member, you also follow along with the meal plan. That means planning out and prepping “Lean Clean’N Green” meals every Sunday for eight weeks straight. And also trying not to eat Timbits. Which is basically impossibleContinue reading

How I Faced My Fitness Fears

About a year ago, I published a blog post entitled “3 Reasons Hiking is my Favourite Hobby for Exercise”. I provided those three reasons: a clear goal to achieve, no expectations about fitness levels, and the chance to experience the great outdoors. But I’ll tell you a secret, friends. Sure, I love hiking and its many benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. But the only reason it was my favourite hobby for exercise at the time was the second one on the list. I was afraid to try anything else because of judgment, both from others and myself. I was held back by my fitness fears. Continue reading