Question 1: I had an on and off practice a few years ago and now it's just off. I could never figure out how to go from just doing sun salutations to the awesome poses you see everyone posting pics. I'm not sure if it's a sequencing thing....but even with aiming to follow along with a yoga workout (outside of studio) I find that I'm not flowing freely because I'm busy looking at the screen and praying I'm doing the pose to the best of my ability. So now I wanna start over. From sun salutations on...do I just focus on doing one pose afterwards and moving on to another after I'm comfy? Is there a system to it all or am I overthinking this? Also, I should mention that I have a 6 week old, a rambunctious 2 year old and I homeschool a 10 year old so I can only do short sessions to start. My hip currently rotates forward due to my hips being so tight. So hip opening is my main focus right now.
Answer 1: It sounds like maybe you're overthinking it. If sun salutations come without effort, just add one pose that you love within the flow and go from there. So for hip opening, I might suggest coming into a low lunge right after you take your first downward dog. Breathe and hang out there and then rise up to warrior 1 as usual and continue with the flow. Start with becoming comfortable integrating basic poses and forget the complicated ones for right now. With consistent practice it'll start to come more naturally and you'll begin to feel more comfortable experimenting with different poses and how they flow together (or don't flow together!). Don't be afraid to mess up - if you wind up doing one thing on one side and forgetting on the other side, it's ok! Just go back to it when you remember. Be gentle on yourself - figuring out how to create yoga sequences is definitely tricky, so just start slowly and build up.
Question 2: I love seeing all your different outfits! I was wondering how you pick pieces to buy. Like when you're out, what do you search for? Or do you randomly come across things in stores? I was wondering because an Athleta just opened near me and I am obsessed with everything they make. But I see that you get your pieces from tons of different places and I love your style! Just wondering how you do it!
Answer 2: Thanks for the outfit love! For activewear, I am pretty picky about certain things. For leggings: I look for a stretchy material that will move with me and retain its shape. For this reason, I tend to avoid anything that's 100% cotton. I also look for a gusset (that patch of fabric at the crotch that prevents....discomfort!), and refuse to wear anything for working out that doesn't have one because otherwise I'll be adjusting the uncomfortable pants every few minutes. Lastly, I prefer leggings that have a wide, flat waistband. Most of the top quality brands tick all of these boxes like Kira Grace, Teeki, and Athleta. I've got my eye on the ones above, from brands I love.
For tops, well, to be honest, I am still looking for the perfect top. For my own practice, I generally wear those cheap-o F21 tanks that are $1.80. They're just easy to throw on, and I like that they're tight because loose fabric getting in the way is a pet peeve of mine. However, they're nothing special and have few redeemable qualities besides their price. They ride up, they fall apart within four months or so, and they're not at all moisture wicking. I don't really know why I wear them, really, since I don't care for them that much - I guess because they're relatively comfortable and I have so many that it doesn't seem to make sense for me to buy new shirts.
Anyway, for teaching yoga, I don't want my shirts riding up so I generally stick with lululemon's cool racer tank which is ridiculously overpriced, and not as high quality in terms of fabric as a few years ago. I have found a couple on sale this past summer for around $20 so I scooped those up. I also like Sweaty Betty's athletic tank. It's long and tight, and a high quality fabric. I love the idea of wearing the yoga tanks with the shelf bras that people sell, but I need a light padding in my bras in order to feel comfortable when I teach, so I haven't found anything that really works yet. I'll keep looking and will share if I find something great!
Question 3: I'm finding that in high lunge, runner's lunge and sometimes warrior my front leg calf gets tightness and pins & needles. I'm worried it's nerve related or something is pinched - there isn't pain per se, but it's uncomfortable and my leg goes numb. Any thoughts or suggestions?
Answer 3: Hmm. I would double check your alignment for high lunge, low lunge and warriors, making sure the knee is either directly over the ankle or behind the ankle, but definitely not in front of the ankle. Also check to be sure that you are magnetizing the feet. So, with your feet on the mat, imagine they are like magnets, trying to pull toward each other. Doing this will engage the leg muscles and create a lift in the pelvic floor, hopefully taking the pressure off wherever it is you might be sinking into that's causing the pins and needles. Let me know if that helps!
Related: Common mistakes in warriors.
Question 4: Have been practicing yoga for about 1 yr and feel I'm moving into intermediate level. However, I'm still terrified of doing a headstand. How do I ease into it?
Answer 4: Good for you for trying something you're scared of! I suggest doing it up against a wall, because half the fear, for me anyway, was tipping over and the wall will prevent that. Check out the video above which will help, and this post with headstand alignment tips.
Related: When you feel comfortable in headstand, give this headstand sequence a try!
Question 5: My question for you is about frog pose. I seem to have a little difficulty in doing this pose and holding it for more than few seconds. Do you have any suggestions on how to do this pose, in case I am doing it wrong?
Answer 5: Haha, if I'm being honest, I avoid this pose like this plague (which probably means I need to do it more often), because it just doesn't feel good for me due to tight legs. Anyway! Some tricks I've learned along the way to modify include:
-using a yoga block for your arms. The blocks essentially raise the floor so you don't have to go as deep if you're not ready.
-put a blanket under each leg or fold your mat over so there's padding for the knee. This just makes it a little more comfortable for the knee joint.
From there, just breathe fully and deeply for 3-5 breaths. After a few weeks, try 5-7 breaths. Slowly build your breaths up in the pose and you'll notice that with practice, the muscles will open up and it won't be as uncomfortable.
Question 6: This is more of a nutritional question than a yoga question, but they go hand in hand, right? Just wondering what your take is on juicing. I've looked at your recipes for juices (I can't wait to try them) but I'm wondering if you incorporate them into your day or if you ever do cleanses? Also, even with your healthy diet do you add vitamins to your intake? Any go to powders for your smoothies like spirulina or chia seeds that are your favorites?
Answer 6: Well, first I should say that I don't have a background in nutrition besides doing a ton of research on gut health and trying a million and a half things to heal my stomach after longterm antibiotic use for lyme disease. So I'm sure that if you posed this question to five different yoga teachers, you'd get five different answers. This is just my personal opinion and what works for me. I'd encourage anyone out there who is reading this, to do your own research and meet with doctors or naturopaths who might be able to find something that works specifically for you.
What resonated most with me was the GAPS book by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride and I've been following the healing (short term) diet for 11 months now. In it, she explains how our digestion works, and according to her, taking vitamins and supplements aren't the best idea because:
-a healthy gut doesn't need any additional supplements because a healthy gut readily absorbs vitamins and minerals through a healthy, balanced diet
-vitamins and supplements have a low absorption rate to begin with, and the vitamin/mineral likely won't make it to the gut to do any good, and an unhealthy gut won't be able to break down and absorb the vitamin/mineral because often times they're a synthetic version of what we'd get in food.
-vitamins and minerals often work in pairs or threes, so taking one without the other renders it useless
-the best thing, she says, is to restore the health of the gut. When the health of the gut is restored, the body is likely to function at its best.
So, the only thing I supplement with, and again, this is according to the GAPS diet, is cod liver oil, Omega 3-6-9 oil and fish oil - all of which taste terrible (and that cod liver oil is outrageously expensive), but, in my opinion, have helped with seasonal depression. This past year was the first year I didn't experience seasonal depression in, I don't know, maybe ten years. Cod liver oil is a fantastic way to get vitamin D, but apparently you need the other oils as well because they work together somehow and taking one without the others isn't going to do much good, according to the book.
As for juicing, I try to do it a few times a week and follow the protocol for juicing as suggested in the book which is:
-drinking it in the morning before eating and then waiting 30 minutes or so before eating
-avoiding mixing greens with fruits (with the exception of apples and lemons). She explains the reasoning in depth in the book.
-varying the type of greens I use
This is all stuff that has worked for me, but we are all different, and I respect any diet someone thinks is best for them. After months of being sick, this diet has been the one thing that's turned it all around, and I couldn't be happier about my decision to try it. I'm looking forward to the day that my stomach is completely healed (the doctor recommends a maximum of two or so years on the diet) so hopefully in another year I'll feel 100%. Until then, I'm hovering around 95%, which is pretty darn good. :)