Question 1: Best budget Yoga mat? I'm looking to replace my two yoga mats that were destroyed by my family's dogs! One chewed, one soiled on! I;m looking for a budge (i.e not Maduka) but has the quality of Manduka, any suggestions?
Answer 1: For the most part, I really think you get what you pay for, so I had a hard time finding something that was really budget with the Manduka-like quality. That being said, I did find some that I think are excellent options with equally exceptional quality at a lower price point than a Manduka mat but unfortunately they were all around the $30 range which is still sort of pricey and not what I would consider budget. But if the $30 range works for you, here are some options:
1. Prana travel mat, $29. It's thin, but it's very high quality, very lightweight and can be folded to easily fit into a gym bag or into your luggage. I own this and have used it traveling to Miami and Costa Rica and have had zero complaints.
2. Hunki Dori mat, $30. I haven't tried this mat but it looks really great with closed cell construction which means excellent grip and no slip.
3. Thinksport yoga and pilates mat, $32. I haven't tried this one but it looks pretty high quality and I love that it has treads on both sides to ensure no slipping.
Question 2: I need some advice. What are your thoughts on an online yoga teacher training? I have been researching programs and do not think I will have the money saved up or the time to commit to a teacher training in my area for at least another year maybe more. I found an interesting alternative: an online teacher training through Core Power Yoga for a very reasonable price. The description says the curriculum is the same as their Yoga Alliance approved on site training but that the online program is not.
How important is it to get the Yoga Alliance stamp of approval on becoming a yoga instructor?
Answer 2: I think it depends on who you ask. I have been in group discussions where I was the only one who thought it was important. No one else cared (out of 20 people). It may not matter if you'll be looking to focus on privates, but most gyms and some yoga studios won't allow you to teach unless you are "certified" through a YA approved school.
My thoughts on online teacher training? I would say to pass on that because in my opinion, it isn't going to set you up to be a confident, experienced teacher. I mean, sure, even at an on-site training, you won't emerge very experienced, but at most (if not all) on-site trainings you'll have to teach the entire group (or smaller groups) a number of times, so you'll emerge with feedback, and a general idea of where your strengths are weaknesses lie. Further, teaching yoga is such a physical thing - it's about presence, and knowing how to adjust, what those adjustments feel like, how to assist and what those assists feel like. It involves a lot of touch, and I imagine that'd be a huge element missing at an online training. My advice? There's no rush to take your training. I'd suggest waiting until you're able to attend one in person.
Question 3: I have a friend (really!) who has pretty severe anxiety. She's under medical treatment for it, but since I told her that yoga has helped me a great deal with my mental health, she's also considering doing yoga as an additional anxiety management tool. She's already checked out a local studio and said she's determined to start lessons in the near future.
I was wondering if you have any advice for her in terms of what to expect from classes, what types of yoga might be more helpful, if there are any yoga styles she should consider avoiding - same goes for asanas-, how to handle her expectations, how to approach the instructor, etc.
Answer 3: You're such a kind friend! I can totally related. I used yoga as a complement to my therapy for major anxiety as well. I can only really speak from my experiences which were as follows:
- each person is different. Savasana or the centering at the beginning of the class can either be delicious and wonderful for someone with anxiety, or absolutely terrifying. (For me it was awful. I fought panic attacks every time the room was silent.) Anyway. If she's like me, she is welcome to keep her eyes open, take a different pose than what is suggested, and position herself anywhere in the room she feels best (by the door, at the back of the room, wherever).
- the yoga class is for you. Remember that. Do not allow any teacher or studio to make you feel as if you owe them anything. You are the client, you are there to soak up what you need. Honor your body and honor what you need. By this I mean take a break when you need to take a break.
- Depending on the type of anxiety, different types of yoga may be more interesting to her. Sometimes someone dealing with mild depression coupled with a bit of anxiety may really enjoy a more powerful flow to balance out. Someone who is super hyperactive and almost manic in their behavior might really benefit from a yin practice or restorative session. I think the key here would be to try different types and see what resonates.
- I wouldn't say there are specific poses to avoid if you have anxiety. I mean, depending on what the anxiety stems from. Sexual abuse victims may be triggered by anything that makes them feel super vulnerable like supta baddakonasana. PTSD soldiers may be triggered by just being at the front of the room and unable to see what's behind them. It really is just a matter of knowing what your triggers are and learning how to make the yoga class work for you. If your friend decides to go to a flow class, it might be helpful to know the basics of sun salutes, so you could show her this video.
- Breath is boss. Watch this breath video to learn various ways to breathe, and then try to incorporate the full yogic breath throughout the entire practice. When I was dealing with my anxiety, I tried to turn everything off in my head and just breathe slowly, making the exhales equally as long as the inhales. There is zero chance of hyperventilating and having a panic attack this way. Breathe, trust, and let go.
Question 4: I am interested in joining a yoga class at my college to improve my posture and fix tightness in my shoulders, back, and hips, but everyone in the class is female except for me so I am a little intimidated. Is there any advice you can give me about what to expect? I have never been to an actual yoga class, but I have done yoga through Youtube videos. I would love to take the class, but I'm just nervous about being the only guy and it would relieve me a lot to know what to expect.
Answer 4: Hey good for you! Ok check out this post on what to expect from your first yoga class. Yoga will absolutely help improve your posture. Tightness in the shoulders, back and hips is really common among men, so I encourage you to check out this post and this post just to give you some background knowledge on how to modify because here's the thing: classes full of women might mean that the teacher overlooks you and your needs. Your instructor may tell the students to come into camel pose and you'll be like, 'Uh, ok I could maybe do that,' and then the next thing you know, you've injured your rotator cuff. So. My advice would be:
- try this yoga for men video and take note of the modifications offered so that when you go to class, you'll know what you can do to modify
- let your instructor know you're kind of new and you're tight in the shoulders, back and hips and ask if they wouldn't mind just letting you know when/how to modify if they think of it
- leave your ego at the door. This goes for everyone, really, but is important to note here because a lack of flexibility can be discouraging and frustrating, but that's mostly attributed to ego and where we think we should be. Go into the class with zero expectations for yourself and for the class, and let whatever unfolds happen naturally. Let whatever you can do be enough.
- take child's pose (or savasana, if child's pose is too much on the hips for you) whenever you need a break
- keep practicing. Commit to a set schedule (at least twice a week, even if it's just one youtube video a week and one live class per week). Consistency is the secret to seeing results.
Hope that helps!
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