Question 1 : Hi Candace. I came across your page via Pinterest and I'm so glad that I did. I have a few questions, if you don't mind. First, I have wanted to do yoga for a while but it feels a bit intimidating to go to a class, even a beginner class, and not know anything. Where do I begin? How often should I do it? Also, most of the yoga pictures you see are of skinny women and I am curvy. Are yoga class curvy chick friendly? Will I be losing weight by doing yoga? How long before I see results? Thanks so much for your time.
Answer 1: Don't be worried! It's normal to feel a little nervous when you're trying something new. I have a yoga tips for absolute beginners video that gives a run down of what to expect at a general yoga class. You can go to class as often as you like - just listen to your body and pay attention to how you feel. Yoga classes should be curvy friendly, but if you feel the studio you're at isn't, just find another studio. I can't really speak about losing weight or how long until you see results because I believe that weight loss comes from 80% food choices and 20% exercise, but you'll definitely tone if you practice consistently. Have the best time!
Related: You may be interested in reading whether yoga is enough.
Question 2: I have rounded shoulders and what I've heard is called a vulture neck. I've been getting back into yoga slowly after only having practiced it back in college and a few times here and there over the years, so I'm quite the beginner and still very tense. What kind of poses and/or sequences would you say would begin to help me strengthen the muscles that are pulling my shoulders and neck in the wrong direction? Also, what should I be careful with when practicing yoga due to these weak or messed up muscles?
Answer 2: It's tough to bring the shoulders into alignment and open up the chest especially if you've had rounded shoulders for a long time, but it'll come with practice. I would suggest some chest opening yoga poses like this yin pose, and check out these three poses to open the chest.
Forget that the above is meant for men because it also applies to women with rounded shoulders as well. One thing you can do in seated poses is to use a quality yoga block and sit on the very edge of it to help elongate the back and bring the shoulders in line with the body.
Question 3: I am pretty new to yoga. I have fibromyalgia and due to a bad combination of physical prescribed medications i suffered a medication induced encephalopathy - twice. I chose yoga to help me get some strength back, because as you can imagine a brain injury and its lingering effects can take all your strength away from you! My question is this: do you have a beginner yoga sequence or a sequence for a person who suffers from chronic pain?
Answer 3: I personally think the best yoga practice for someone who suffers from chronic pain is a slow, restorative practice with some meditation. A slow practice with some meditation promotes total relaxation and has long been documented as a good aid for pain management. I have a 30 minute restorative yoga and meditation video you might like to try. As for building strength, I think it's best to start slowly with something that isn't too physically strenuous like this chair yoga sequence for balance.
Question 4: Hi Candace, I love your videos and practice with you often. My problem is my bunion. I've tried some exercises but they don't help. What kind of asana can you recommend to help?
Answer 4: Love that you practice with me on YouTube! For the feet, make sure you're properly rooting down into the foundation. This chart for the feet should help give you pointers on how to do that. You also may want to try this yoga video for the feet. It helps to lengthen and strengthen the little muscles in our feet, and that may take pressure off the joint with the bunion.
Question 5: I actually have two injury-related yoga questions. The first is, what kind of practice do you recommend for someone recovering from shoulder impingement syndrome - in both shoulders? I have a hard time spending time supporting myself in any way on my arms, even in downward dog. I've tried grounding my hands better, based on your chart, and that helps, but any other tips?
Answer 5: It's hard for me to say exactly what will help because I don't know the extent of the shoulder injuries you have and I'm not a doctor, but if you can be on your arms (and that's something you and your doctor should decide together), you could modify down dog or planks by coming onto your forearms (just try to keep the elbows drawn in toward each other). If there's any pain at all when you do that, then I'd suggest just giving your shoulders some time to recover and take a more restorative approach to your yoga practice. You could try these 8 yoga poses for neck and shoulders or this gentle yoga video.
Question 5 part two: The second question is, what advice do you have for building up to lotus? I've tried the "stacked logs" and half lotus, but tend to come away with severe knee pain for days. I used to be able to do half lotus just find, but it's been a while since I've done yoga and am trying to get back into the practice.
Answer 5 part two: Lotus can be really dangerous for the knees and it's one of the most challenging yoga poses. It can take years to work up to a solid lotus pose (mine still isn't great, you can see above one knee isn't on the ground). The basic rules of lotus is never forcing anything. Definitely avoid pushing or shoving your knees/legs in any direction. It's also extremely important to flex the feet when practicing for lotus or doing the stacked logs because it prevents sickling in the ankles which is connected to knee pain. If you're flexing the feet and you're still getting knee pain then just stop. Keep working on opening up your hips and eventually you may be able to begin practicing again without any pain.
Related: A yoga video for hips and low back.