CHAMPAGNE and Ferrero Rocher felt like an excellent self care program for the first week of Christmas, but by the end of the Reyes, while their appeal had not palled, their effects certainly had.
Long hill walks had kept my step count up (essential in our intra-marital competition) and strengthened my legs, but they had allowed my stomach and arms a completely free ride on what were increasingly tight and painful hips.
So, on the morning of Jan 7 it was definitely time to roll out the yoga mat.
I have been propping up my phone to follow yoga videos online for three years. Initially, it was to manage an old back injury that I had re-inflamed by wielding a hoe in my garden.
Although, admittedly, there had been some procrastination between the accident and the yoga. A full year in fact, of hoping that rest, or rather lack of exercise, might heal the slipped disc. I finally accepted that I needed to be more proactive, a little more backbone than wishbone.
Although I had practised yoga during the years that I was a contemporary dancer, and also for a couple of years after torn discs forced me to stop, I had only continued fitfully in the following 15 years.
I practised my repertoire of stretches, postures and sequences as a warm down after running and sometimes followed diagrams and photos in books.
Classes were not something I could easily incorporate into my days as a working, country-living mother. But, nor could I motivate myself to leave my home in the evening to battle for a parking space and jostle for room in a crowded studio.
Free yoga videos online have completely changed the landscape. It took no more effort than looking up the recommended yoga channel on YouTube and choosing a 15 minute tutorial for a painful lower back.
In my own kitchen, and with the reward of a hot, milky coffee when I finished.
But I didn’t stop there, I enjoyed it so much I thought I would do another short one, and then I tried a quick meditation.
Obviously the enormous amount of free content online means that the choice can be overwhelming, but it does give you the opportunity to experiment with different teachers and explore yoga styles.
Natalie Farrel, yoga and wellness coach in Sotogrande and founder of yummy yoga girl agrees that it is a ‘great resource’ not only for beginners, but also for more advanced yogis too, since she herself also subscribes to a channel for her own daily practise.
She has also observed that many men start in this way because they feel less self conscious then in an open class . Natalie adds that it is also an inexpensive way to practice yoga more and a useful tool to ‘mix into the practice ‘.
Her core belief that yoga is about “celebrating our individuality and not about competition and comparing ourselves to others,”might also be embodied by sometimes practising alone.
I have certainly found that by being less self conscious at home and without any need for competition, I both connect more deeply to my feelings and respect my physical limits better. I often cry at home, whereas I would hold back the tears in a group class. And if it were purely self practice, without the structure of a teacher led sequence , I would stay far too comfortably within my range.
The only issue I have had with online classes is my own inconsistency. My motivation has waxed and waned with great irregularity and even paying a yearly subscription was not enough to align my desire for action with the act itself.
At the end of last summer, I was recommended the book Atomic Habits by James Clear (available on Amazon 18 euros) on’ how to build good habits and break bad ones’. The main tenet is that very small changes to your routine, just a 1% improvement per day, bring remarkable results. He also counsels that you choose who you want to be,not what you want to achieve.
I want to be someone who has a yoga practice; a committed long term relationship rather than a series of tempestuous affairs.
By implementing some of his strategies to make it more probable that I will do yoga then not, I have finally managed to get on the mat 4-5 times a week for 4 months.
The main changes I made were to put my yoga clothes on first thing every morning , have my mat out, allocate the daily session to a specific time and place and also to share the practice with a friend two mornings a week, straight after school drop off.
And of course, there is always the reward of a hot drink at the end of the class. Although these days it’s more likely to be a golden latte.
Good free online yoga
There are lists which cite the most popular ten yoga channels on YouTube . I tried several and below are my favorites so far .
These free videos are taught by a variety of certified yoga teachers. I started here since they tailor a lot of videos for those suffering from back and neck pain. Their friendly, personal style of makes it feel like having a private yoga session and I was drawn in by their warmth.
The soothing southern tones and the kind invitations to follow their moves, entranced and inspired me.
I particularly enjoyed Savannah’s 40 minute deep hip opening stretches, and the 20 minute hip and hamstrings and IT bands.
She still has many free sessions on YouTube but this is her channel : Colechanceyoga.com
I followed her 15 and 20 minute tutorials for back, neck and sciatica pain until I reached a stage where I wanted longer sessions and I finally paid and subscribed for 1 hour sessions.
I love the graceful flow and movement of Cole’s classes. She gradually eases you into more challenging sequences, while keeping an expansiveness to the poses.
The alignment cues are helpful and the way she breaks down poses so that you can find their essence, even if you lack the strength or flexibility for the advanced posture. She is very open about her own past struggles with addiction, and how yoga helped her become sober. She is a fun, light presence to spend an hour with, while the yoga itself does the deeper work.
Adriene YouTube – Yoga With Adriene
Adriene is possibly the most popular teacher on the internet with a global online community of 5.5 million subscribers.
From Austin, Texas, she has a large and diverse selection of video tutorials and is always posting new ones. She has a soft voice and gentle humour. I tried a one hour Total Body Workout.
I enjoyed the steady flow, clear alignment and breath cues and how the stretches and core work deepened as the class progressed. It was a good practice for building strength so I repeated it a few days later and will continue doing it weekly. I shall definitely explore her other classes and mindfulness videos.
She has a good program called Home which is designed to get you practicing for a month. It’s called ‘Ease into it 30 days of yoga’.
The first day is a 6 minute orienting talk, no yoga, just an introduction with practical tips.
Movement for modern life
This subscription app is used by Natalie Farrell for her own self practice , (yoga teacher Sotogrande, founder of yummy yoga girl)
This site claims that their teachers count among the best in the UK. They have a library of more
than 1000 videos from 2 minutes to 90 minutes posting new videos each week for students of all levels.