You're already following your friends, family, and favorite fit celebs on Instagram, but you might not know about the huge community of yogis who post awe-inspiring pictures every day. The following accounts are a mix of world-renowned teachers and advanced practitioners all over the world. Here are the 10 yogi Instagram accounts you should follow ASAP!
When your head is aching from sinus congestion and your nose is plugged up, going to yoga class is probably not the best option. Rather than completely neglecting your yoga practice, opt for a minisequence at home to open up your chest and improve your circulation.
If you are looking for a little more of a workout, simply complete a few rounds of Sun Salutations between each congestion-soothing posture.
Energizing, strengthening, and lengthening — there are so many things we love about a beginner-friendly inversion like Standing Split. If you're prepared for a mouthful of Sanskrit, it's known as "Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana" — now trying saying that three times fast!
This fairly common pose pops up regularly in all levels and styles of yoga, and these small tips will make a big difference in your next practice — whether you're new to yoga or an advanced student. Once you've got the basic shape down, these pointers will help this pose work its wonders on your legs and hips.
Don't turn out your hip: To make the most of Standing Split (and almost every other pose), it's essential to bring attention to alignment; it's not about your leg being the highest out of the whole class! Once your hands are on the ground and you start to move more deeply into this pose, don't let your knee turn out toward the wall. Focus on turning your inner thigh towards the center of your body and keeping your pelvis parallel to the floor.
Don't force a straight leg: If you're new to yoga and the backs of your legs are very tight, your leg might not stretch out into a perfectly straight line. Your body will get just as much out of a Standing Split with a bent knee as it would if your leg was perfectly straight. And don't be discouraged — your legs and hips will open up with time!
Don't strain your neck: Once you're into your full expression of Standing Split, ever so slightly tuck your chin in towards your chest so the crown of your head points down toward the ground. Making this tiny adjustment will allow any unnecessary tension to spill out from the back of your neck and help you sink deeper into this challenging pose.
Do you love or hate Standing Split? Tell us in the comments!
A question that constantly pops up among fitness newbies is whether they should take yoga or Pilates. Both mind-body practices are great forms of strength training that build long, lean muscles. You might be surprised to learn that Joseph Pilates, the founder Pilates, looked to yoga for inspiration when creating his exercise method! With that said, there are some big differences between the two workouts to keep in mind.
The Spiritual Side of Things
Yoga is rooted in a spiritual, meditative practice, and many contemporary yoga classes choose to bring this element to the mat. If the idea of chanting, finding your spiritual center, or aligning your chakras sounds like something you'd be into, then yoga is the way to go! For those who'd prefer to steer clear of that stuff, you'll be pleased to know that this is not present in the Pilates method.
While you won't be asked to connect with your chakras in Pilates, you will be talking about your body and muscle groups in great detail. Pilates puts great emphasis on using the deep abs and pelvic floor while the limbs move three-dimensionally in space. While there are some aspects of yoga that relate, there's far more of an anatomical, alignment-based approach to Pilates when compared with the majority of yoga classes.
The Mechanics — or Machinery!
In yoga class, you use can specific props like blankets, blocks, or a strap to ease into poses, and Pilates mat work similarly requires no props. However, a large repertory of exercises has been created for the use of machines, like the Pilates reformer or Pilates Cadillac, which are vastly more intricate than the props used in yoga. The machines use heavy springs to create resistance and are incredibly versatile, taking the mat work to different levels — providing support to make exercises easier or adding resistance to challenge the muscles more.
How Fast Can You Flow?
In terms of pacing, yoga is considerably more static than Pilates, since yoga poses are generally held for a number of breaths, except the flowing vinyasa that connects poses in Ashtanga and other forms of yoga too. Straight-up yoga classes tend to be 75 to 90 minutes, while Pilates mat classes are generally an hour. While you're getting a little more time in at yoga, both classes are roughly the same price.
In short, asking us to choose between yoga or Pilates is like asking us to choose a favorite child. The two practices enrich each other greatly, and the more anatomically specific elements taught in Pilates enhance the more abstract images used in yoga. The only way to make an intelligent choice is to take both classes and see what you like more!
— Additional reporting by Susi May
Do you have a mini panic attack when your yoga instructor says it's time to work on Headstands? Whether you've tried inversions a hundred times and can't stay balanced for more than half a second or are too intimidated to even try, here are five reasons Headstands aren't happening for you and how to get started hanging upside down.
You're Scared of Falling
This is a very real fear and a valid reason for not even attempting Headstand, but how will you know whether or not you can balance upside down if you never give it a chance? There are many ways you can do a Headstand and avoid the risk of falling. Try one of these: do Headstand in front of a wall, have someone spot you, slowly lift into Headstand instead of kicking up, or start with a Bound Headstand Prep where your feet never leave the ground (it's still a Headstand if you're balancing on your head!).
Your Base Is Unstable
Whether you're doing Bound Headstand (shown in the photo above) or Tripod Headstand with your palms on the ground, your base needs to be strong and stable in order to support the weight of the rest of your body. In Bound Headstand, make sure the heels of your palms are pressed against the back of your head, and your elbows are a few inches away from your ears. In Tripod Headstand, keep your elbows at 90-degree angles. A strong base is the first step in building up to Headstand.
Your Upper Body Is Weak
Although Headstand takes a strong sense of balance, a strong upper body is also essential. If you feel like your upper body is weak, you won't be able to create and hold your stable base. Tone up those biceps, triceps, shoulders, and the muscles in your upper back by doing these upper-body sculpting poses, and throw in some of these push-up variations.
Your Core Is Weak
Slowly lifting into Headstand rather than jumping into it will help prevent falling, since the momentum of your flailing legs tends to make you lose your balance. And although getting into Headstand this way is much safer, since you're moving slowly, it takes a whole lot of core strength. Start in the Bound Headstand Prep position, with your legs straight and your feet on the floor. Try bending your knees into your chest in the Tuck position, and eventually you will be able to lift your legs straight into the air. If your midsection isn't strong enough yet, practice Boat pose and scissor abs to target your core.
Your Alignment Is Off
From the photo above, you can see that your hips should be stacked over your shoulders, and your feet stacked over your hips. If your torso isn't in a straight line with your abs engaged, it will be impossible to balance, even with a strong base. Ask your yoga instructor to watch you do Headstand so they can help you get your alignment right.
Nothing melts away stress like a little bedtime therapy. Aside from calming your nerves, releasing those happy hormones from getting busy under the sheets can also give the immune system a boost, relieve nasal congestion, and best of all, help you live longer. If that wasn't enough, yoga can make it even better. Besides learning new tips and techniques from racy chats with your close girlfriends, here's how heading to the yoga studio can improve the quality — and frequency! — of orgasms.
- Stronger outer muscles: It's tough work holding all those unique positions, and just as stronger quads can help you feel like you can run forever, strong muscles from yoga can also increase your endurance during sex. Try these total body yoga poses: Beginner's Sage, Three-Legged Down Dog, and Crow.
- Stronger inner muscles: Yoga poses tone your entire outer body, but they also target your inner pelvic floor muscles, which when held during sex, can heighten pleasure for both you and your partner. The yogic practice of holding mula bandha, which most people know as Kegels, targets this area specifically. If you're unfamiliar with these pelvic floor exercises, it's the muscles you'd automatically contract if someone burst in on you in the ladies room. In Ashtanga Yoga, mula bandha is held for the entire 90-minute practice, but you can also make your work commute or that long line at the grocery store a little more fun by practicing your Kegels then.
- Flexibly: If you're one to get creative in the bedroom, loose hamstrings, hips, and a spine that come with a regular yoga practice can allow you to confidently and comfortably try new positions with a reduced risk of injury. Make these poses a part of your regular practice: Wide-Legged Forward Bend C, this hip-opening sequence, and Wheel.
- Improved confidence: When you feel strong and beautiful in your body, that beaming energy can make you feel so brave that your insecurities and fears peel away, allowing you to be playful and really let go. The fluid nature of a yoga practice and the strength it requires will help you realize the full potential of your body, making you feel feminine and bold at the same time.
- Heightened awareness: Being in the moment and allowing yourself to move freely and follow your fiery instincts is a recipe for a great romp in the hay. And if there's one thing yoga teaches, it's how to be in the present, to notice and follow the breath, to be calm, content, and blissful. With the ability to tune out day-to-day stresses, to bring your awareness inward and be in the moment, you'll open yourself to a deeper and more pleasurable experience.
Looking to tone up your backside? Move through this 20-minute yoga sequence that kicks things off with a little cardio before a series of poses designed to tone and lift your bottom. Practice this quick sequence regularly, and you'll be rocking your skinny jeans and leggings with newfound confidence!
Let's face it: one of the best things about yoga class is the wardrobe. Comfortable, cozy, and casually put together, nothing beats the effortless style of a true yogi. With the weather starting to cool, a wrap is a fitting addition that will keep you warm all season long. It's perfect for layering after class, and you'll be able to go from breaking a sweat to running your errands in style. While it's impossible to choose just one, we've listed some of our favorites below!
Athletic training meets yoga in this 10-minute flow series that focuses on the core — hello, toned abs! LA-based trainer Todd McCullough uses the extreme positions of yoga to build both strength and flexibility. Your arms and legs will work in the series, but your abs will really feel the burn. Kick off your shoes, grab your yoga mat, and get ready to train.
When it comes to conquering balancing postures, most of the battle is fear. Whether you're a beginner or intermediate student, this active sequence is an introduction to how yoga challenges your equilibrium. Remember, even if you topple down time after time, the only way you'll improve is if you try.
For this sequence, move through the first seven poses on your right side, then move through the same seven on your left. Finish with the last three poses that work your core and challenge your balance right before you take Savasana.