Last May at She Recovers in NYC, I had my very first yoga experience — a class led by Taryn Strong (a.k.a. Yoga Pixie) and Elena Brower. Eight months later, I still cannot put into words how incredible it was.
At the end of the class, I vowed to do at least 10 minutes of yoga per day. I had been shocked at how easy it was, inspired by how much peace it brought me, awed by how much strength I had, and motivated by how much stronger I knew I could become. Eight months later, I have not done a single minute of yoga. Why? I don’t know where to start.
Having lost weight in 2017 and found a deeper love for myself than ever before, I made strength my word for 2018 and set my intentions to become physically stronger. For me, part of that is learning more about yoga and starting to practice it. But, again, I didn’t know where to start. And, I don’t have a budget for yoga classes.
So, I reached out to those I know who do know where to start.
In part one of a two-part series about getting started with yoga, I interviewed Esther and she created a wonderful video for anyone who wants to incorporate just 10 minutes of yoga into their day. Here’s the Q&A:
Laura: Why did you begin practicing yoga?
Esther: I was partly inspired by my adoration of George Harrison (I recently wrote about him HERE), but ultimately it was a desire to improve my asthma (in a way that meant I could carry on smoking!) that prompted me to start attending classes regularly. I fell in love with it, and vowed really early on that I would one day teach it.
Laura: Describe the role of yoga in your life today.
Esther: Yoga has been the root of my recovery from addiction, and inspires my life every day. Beyond the physical practices, which help me to find peace and stillness in my mind and body, the other aspects of Yoga, the philosophical and spiritual aspects which are often overlooked, are vital to me. Yoga taught me to relax and gave me strategies to manage and reduce stress in my life, but the Yamas and Niyamas help me think about how to live, and gave me tools for self compassion, honesty, self reflection, awareness, gratitude and positive thinking and more that have helped me become a better person than I was.
More than anything else, the ‘3 Rules of Yoga’ I was given at the start of my training, ‘Don’t Judge, Don’t Compare, Don’t Beat yourself up’ guide me in my life, I don’t always get it right, but am aware when I do any of these things and can quickly alter my thought patterns to a healthier frame of mind.
Laura: Why do you recommend yoga?
Esther: Yoga is so much more than an exercise system. Through Yoga, and living a Yogic life, a person can become healthier, happier, more resilient, more content, and compassionate, both to themselves and others.
Yoga was my path to recovery from alcohol addiction, such is the extent of the gifts it can bestow. It is an excellent vehicle for recovery from anything, because it has a clear framework for personal growth, balancing of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, and processing and healing of past hurt.
Laura: For someone new to yoga, what do they need to get started and what can they do in 10 minutes per day?
Esther: The most important thing to know is that you CAN do Yoga. Many people think it is not accessible to them for various reasons, but as long as you are alive, there is some way in which Yoga can benefit you and you can practice it.
10 minutes a day is plenty to give your body and mind a really wonderful boost through Yoga. Start with a minute or two focused on your breath with your eyes closed. Once you have done this, 8 minutes of these gentle exercises known as Jattis can release tension, and increase flexibility in your body. They are small movements, but they are powerful — in just a few weeks of daily practice of these movements, you will start to notice a real difference in your flexibility and looseness in your body. After your 8 minutes of movement, another minute of focusing on the breath brings your heart rate back to normal, and you are set for the rest of the day. In the video below, I guide you through this.
Laura: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Esther: The breath is a vital part of Yoga practice. Learning to breathe well is hugely transformative, and I highly recommend it to everyone. I even have the word ‘breathe’ tattooed on my wrist as a permanent reminder of the importance of it in my life. Learning to focus the mind on the breath for a minute is just the start, as you develop your yoga practice and learn to gain better control over your mind through continued practice, you will begin to see how much working with the breath helps with the management of emotions. If you look for a Yoga teacher to work with outside your home practice, I would highly advise making sure you work with a teacher who teaches breathwork as part of the class, such is the importance of good breathing in Yoga.