Busy mom? New to yoga? Start here!
Welcome to our resource guide—Yoga for Newbies!
Jessica and her daughter, Jaylin, have studied yoga with Gita for four years, and they’ve had way too much fun to keep for themselves! This resource guide gives you direct access to their hearts, minds, challenges and discoveries on a the path of personal evolution. All that, and no fancy-shmancy yoga pants required!
What you’ll find:
1. Need some peace? We share a simple guided meditation practice you can use right now to feel more peaceful and healthy.
2. Nervous to try a new class? We’ll tell you what to expect from your first yoga class, what to wear, and how to mentally approach your new adventure in peace and health.
3. Using every excuse to avoid starting? We’ll bust excuses that block you from starting a practice, let’s let go of anything that’s standing in the way of you and your peace!
4. Too busy to figure this out on your own? We know you’re busy, so we’ve put together a list of our favorite products that support us on our path. We’ve done the shopping and testing so you don’t have to! Find your mat, incense, clothes, books, videos for home practice and get your yoga shop on!
5. No time to practice? Follow Gita’s simple, quick video you can do right now, sitting on the couch, bed, wherever you are is a great place to start! 5 minutes of yummy beginnings for you!
6. Need advice of how to feel better during a busy day? Try Gita’s favorite quick-fix video that you can use anywhere, anytime to generate more health and peace!
7. Have a little shoulder or neck pain? Follow Gita’s favorite fix when I get hunchy-roundy shoulders. Nice deep breaths will help calm your entire body and mind, too! Enjoy!
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Find you peace. Find your ease. Find your yoga.
1. It's your turn! Experience a step to a peaceful and healthy life right now!
Try Gita’s guided meditation, 10 minutes of peace!
Find your peace. Find your ease. Find your yoga.
Join me and get yoga-love sent directly to your inbox every week!
2. Nervous to try a new class?
We’ll tell you what to expect from your first yoga class, what to wear, and how to mentally approach your new adventure in peace and health.
Start Where You Are
My best advice is to simply begin. Allow all of the nagging thoughts like I’m not flexible enough to do yoga, I won’t know what I’m doing, I’m afraid to look stupid, I should be doing x, y and z, to take a back seat to your own health and peace. You are worth the time of self-care. In fact, the more you charge your own physical, mental and spiritual battery, the more of a charge you’ll carry into the world, making everything you do eminently more effective. People will notice your peace, I promise! Just imagine how powerful you will feel as you walk into a room and have your very presence provide a measure of comfort and peace for your family and friends. You are a treasure, it’s your turn to shine!
My advice is just to do it! Pick a class and break the ice. Other than a couple small things, it is not essential to prepare yourself. You do not need to show up flexible and graceful. By practicing yoga, you will eventually achieve this. If you wait to attend a class until you have everything in order, you will never make it to a class! Don’t focus on being prepared because you do not know what you are preparing for until you begin taking classes and seeing how they make you feel. It probably will be a little awkward at first, because yoga is not a fitness class. There are components in yoga that can emit fear, such as being quiet and being present. There won’t be loud music and distractions to help you be anonymous, but the benefits of putting yourself out there greatly outweigh the initial discomfort.
Pick a buddy or fly solo
Look at how you have thrived in the past. Do you tend to follow through more when you have an accountability buddy? Does it make new things easier when you’re in the company of your bestie? Then find a friend, coworker or family member and find strength in numbers.
Or, are you an introvert? Do you like the anonymity of flying under the radar? Do you feel most comfortable when left to your own thoughts? Then simply attend a class by yourself. Simple!
Go alone or bring an entourage. Both have benefits: going alone helps you to fully embrace the class and if you have an awkward moment, you won’t have to relive it with others over and over again.
If you bring a friend, you may have a support system that may allow you to relax more and receive greater results from the class.
General rule of tummy, try not to eat for about two hours before your class. If this is a burden due to your eating habits, just start where you are and go to a class anyway. Yoga will teach you what is best for your body, it’s your job to simply observe.
Jessica: Lessons from Nutella Nirvana
First, don’t go to yoga on a full stomach-ever! Beginner or not, yoga is made to help your body detoxify itself. You may be lucky enough not to do anything embarrassing if you do eat, but you will not feel as well as the person next to you who chose to wait until after the class. I can speak from experience. At our training in NYC, I was so excited for lunch at a new place and went totally overboard ordering an iced mocha and a grilled Nutella and banana sandwich. Even though I made it through the afternoon practice without any unpleasantries, I definitely regretted it. I felt sluggish and heavy, but that was a mistake I had to learn, to feel the difference in my choices in my body, and that is what differentiates a beginner from a more experienced yogi. An experienced yogi is a person who learns from experiences-good and bad- during their yoga practice. It is not someone who never makes mistakes, so don’t fear anything because it has all been done already. Take comfort in knowing that you are not original in yoga, originality will come with your interpretation of your yoga practice.
What not to wear
My best advice, from twenty years of seeing all types of outfits show up to my classes:
- Butt and tummy check all of your clothes:
- Step one-lift your arms overhead and check if your shirt lifts up and shows skin you’d rather keep hidden.
- Step two-stand up and bend forward. Is your shirt falling around your head, exposing your cute new bra to the world? Are your pants riding down and showing a little butt cleavage? Opt for a longer shirt, personally, I’m in love with tunics!
- Step three—layer! It’s nice to have an outer layer that you take off easily as the class gets moving, then you can put it on again during the relaxation portion at the end of class.
Make sure your looks are “for go, and not for show”. You may want to buy new sexy yoga clothes to help you feel good going to the mat. But truly feeling good will come when everything you want to stay hidden actually does. Looking good entering a class matters a lot less once you are on the mat. Looking good in a pose comes with comfort, and choosing something that you are comfortable in will make you feel a whole lot better than ones that just look great. So, try out some down dogs before you leave in those sexy clothes, to make sure that there won’t be any surprises at class. And if something decides to show, let it be.
Treat the class like an experiment
The best advice I give all of my students is to treat the class like an experiment. Be willing to try things the instructor suggests, releasing expectations about yoga, and take a benevolent and curious perspective to your practice. Just experiment, notice, and figure it out as you go along the way. Experimenting releases expectations and judgements, and sets you up to notice the effects of yoga, shaping a practice that will serve your unique needs and desires.
Most of the time, I get anxious about things that are happening at another time either in the past or near future, and they tend to ruin time spent leading up to an event or whatever is stressing me out. I am learning to be present, yoga helps me to just let go of whatever has happened or will happen.
The thing you must bring to class
The biggest predictor of your experience of yoga is your own enthusiasm and curiosity. I’ve taught countless people over the years, and the ones who have skyrocketed into peace and health are the students that experiment willingly, are curious, and practice with zeal!
3. Have you used an excuse to avoid yoga?
Want to start but feel blocked? Let’s shift it right now and get on with your peaceful and healthy 2014!
A special note from Gita:
I love yoga. I love the way my body, mind, and spirit feel clean and clear from my practice. Being human, I have the same struggles as everyone, and sometimes succumb to the power of excuses to avoid my practice. However, the more I practice, the more the excuses lose their power. Yoga simply feels too good to avoid.
Let me help you feel more healthy and peaceful, every week! [Opt-in box]
You, dear friend, can feel healthy and peaceful, too. At first, you may need to artificially create some momentum in your practice, but the more you bust through your resistance, the more the power of your practice will create it's own natural rhythm. Feeling good will lead to more feeling good will lead to more feeling good and on and on!
Do you ever use these excuses? Let’s bust them right now!
“I’m not flexible enough”
If you wanted to learn to play the piano, would you say, “I won’t take a piano lesson because I don’t know how to play the piano”? Of course not, you’d just start where you are. Yoga is the same way, each step towards peace and health begins right where you are, no prerequisites required!
You needn't be flexible to attend a class. Flexibility is obtained from practicing, but that is not the reason for yoga. There are many health benefits for people to practice, decreased stress, increased strength, improved balance, lower blood pressure, flexibility is just one tiny aspect of this amazing practice.
“I’m not fit enough to do yoga”
Find the right teacher, the right style, and yoga is truly for every body type! Power yoga is a good fit for athletes, restorative yoga is great for those on the mend, gentle flow yoga is good for folk with moderate stress; most yoga studios worth their weight in incense have detailed class descriptions so you can find the appropriate class.
Many people feel that they need to "do yoga" to attend a class. It is in fact a myth, because, how can you do yoga, if you do not do yoga? If you are apprehensive about going to a class and feel lost, you can always call the studio and voice your concern and they can tell you which class is best for a beginner. Also, you can speak with the teacher upon arrival, and often the teacher will pay more attention to you and offer more subtle instructions to you.
“Yoga is too airy-fairy crunchy-granola"
Accessing health and peace is your birthright. If chanting, incense, and bowing bug you, stick with the physical feelings you get during yoga. Take what you need and leave the rest!
“I’m too old for yoga.”
Oh my oh my, yoga is truly appropriate and safe for all ages. One of my favorite teachers is in her seventies, and I’ve taught people well into their seventies, too! Find the right teacher, the right style, and yoga is a beautiful tool you can use for your entire life. If you are a bit older, check out the work of Lilias Folan, her yoga DVD’s for seniors are a great place to start.
I’m too busy”
Let’s call the word busy a naughty four-letter word, shall we? Please don’t mistake your status as a “I’m too busy for myself martyr” as truly being as useful to the world as you imagine. The more healthy, peaceful, and strong you are, the more the world around you benefits. Charge your battery so you can impart this powerful vibe to everyone you meet! Every day awaits with fresh promise. Every moment, every breath, is a chance to begin again. Take a little time to charge your battery with yoga or meditation, I promise the world will thank you!
A special note from Jessica:
I always thought if you practiced yoga, everything about you would have to change. While I am finding this to be fairly accurate, it is not in the preconceived way that I thought. I thought I would need to change my wardrobe, my choice of food, cleaning products, music….all at once to truly be a “yogi”. In truth, yoga comes when we are not attached to anything, so even such yogic preferences need not exist. As you go into yoga, preferences may change, but it is a relief to me that these things do not define us and are temporary, as we are.
Find your peace. Find your ease. Find your yoga.
Join me and get yoga-love sent directly to your inbox every week!
4. Yoga for Newbies-Top Products
One of the many reasons I love yoga is that I don’t need anything but myself to practice. No mat, special clothes, props or meditation bells are needed. Freedom from stuff, freedom from needs, freedom from prerequisites to my happiness.
But truth be told, I do have a bit of the girly-girl side to my personality, and over the years I’ve found that certain accouterments serve as an aid and inspiration for my practice. These material items support my practice and remind me of peace and health on and off the mat; they are tangible triggers that prime my system for peace. Plus, they are just plain fun!
It's nice to work out in nice fancy yoga clothes, but old sweats work just fine, too! I have been acquiring things slowly over the past couple of years. Anyone who gets me presents knows I like yoga gear! Gita gave me some incense to try, and I’ve picked up a few books along the way, too. Slowly but surely, I am building a collection of goodies that support my practice.
This is probably the number one question I get asked, and it usually results in me staring blankly at my student shrugging my shoulders weakly and mumbling "I dunno". Yikes, who said yoga teachers are always poised! It seems a trifle silly that a practicing yogini with over 20 years of rolling around on mats has no opinion, but my honesty is all I’ve got for ya on this one. Over the years, I’ve used mats from: Gaim, Jade, lululemon, Nike, Athleta, Eat More Kalen, Walmart (yikes, but true), Target, Danskin , and countless others. Over time, they all eventually get dry and crispy from use, relegated to cushions for my aging doggie's knees.
My best advice, go to a local Target and touch a few different types, see what you like. Don’t spend a lot of money, just pick one and go for it. Your experience, yoga style, and body type will tell you what your next choice should be, much better than me!
I have purchased all of my mats at Target. I would love a fancy one someday, but mine do the trick. I'm still hoping for a cool bag to carry my mat, but one day.
In case you missed it, check out our last post about what not to wear to your class-good info for you!
Hands down, the best yoga clothes I’ve ever had come from Athleta
They are pricey, for sure, but over the years they’ve lasted through endless repetitions, traveling, and washing-rinsing- repeating! Pricey yes. Worth it? Definitely.
Marshalls always has a huge selection of yoga gear, and I've gotten most of my clothing from there. That, and gifts from my family!
Yoga Videos-home practice rocks!
I’ve gotten tremendous benefits from practicing at home over the years, but sometimes I need a kick in the asana to practice. That’s when I turn to videos for a little support.
Despite my endless complaining about the skinny, mostly Caucasian, very flexible ladies on the cover, this magazine has top-notch content. I devoured this magazine as a yoga newbie, and they spread the love with free classes! Most are short and very accessible, I highly recommend the videos by Jason Crandell.
For $18.00 per month you get unlimited access to videos, most by very accomplished and refined teachers. My favorite, again, is Jason Crandell, he’s one of the only teachers I recommend for my students. He is an encyclopedia of yoga knowledge, and his teaching reflects his deep personal practice. You can preview classes to get the vibe, too.
Brandt Passalacqua of Peaceful Weight Loss through Yoga
Don’t let the name fool you! This guy is the real deal, wether you want to lose lbs or not, his classes are simple, clear, and a powerful testament to the power of an accessible yoga class. I bought his year-long “At Home” series, every month a new DVD arrived at my house. The practices are great for beginners, he is a very compassionate teacher, and the classes are sequenced beautifully
Here’s where my love of lotions and potions shines!
I can count on one comment from most of my new students as they enter my home studio, “It smells so good in here, what is that?”. I use only essential oils, like Rosemary Mint from Indigo Wild, to use in my studio. It’s fantastic and even folks with allergies and asthma can benefit, no synthetic junk. Plus, the folks here make everything by hand.
Our skin is our largest organ, and I try my best to put stuff on my body that I’d only put in my body. For years, I searched for a good, natural makeup. I’m in love with the products from RMS beauty. Simple, effective awesomeness.
aWhat’s not to love about this catalogue that arrives every month at the house of Gita? Meditation cushions, books, statues, fountains, jewelry, everything takes my breath away. I’ve ordered from here throughout the years and everything has been of impeccable quality.
Meditations to live to be 100 by Maoshing Ni
Written by an expert of Chinese Medicine, his mellifluous voice will help guide you to a deep understanding of your health, and practical ways to enhance your life experience.
The Soul of Healing Meditations by Deepak Chopra & Adam Plack
This recording by Deepak Chopra represents some of the best tips and strategies to cope with modern life while cultivating a deeper awareness and joy for life. Everything by Deepak rocks my world!
Kelly Howell and Brain Sync have a large collection that I highly recommend for those interested in healing or beginning meditators. The recordings are designed to be listened to on headphones and include sounds specifically chosen to induce desireable brain wave patterns. They have many different recordings for diverse needs.
Jai Uttal—The Art and Practice of Ecstatic Chant, Dial M for Mantra, Kirtan Kids, and many others
A modern master of kirtan, or spiritual chanting. His collaborations with Ben Leinbach are also excellent, good for relaxation.
Krishna Das—Flow of Grace
Most of his albums are traditional Indian chanting or Kirtan. He is a master of this genre with a beautiful voice.
Craig Pruess & Ananda—108 Sacred Names of Mother Divine, Sacred Chants of Devi
Very good for deep relaxation; this is what I use in my classes.
From Gita-Meditations from the Mat-daily reflections on yoga, excellent to support your home practice and first steps with yoga
Verses for daily living-Thich Nhat Hanh-this book helped me bring my practice off the mat and into my every day life. Beautiful drawings and simple phrases to repeat during your busy days will bring you back to center.
Crazy Sexy Cancer, Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr
Inspiring and fun works by a woman who changed her life after a Stage 4 cancer diagnoses. Full of easy tips and recipes for adding juices, smoothies, and green foods into your life.
Hands down, Shoyeido is the best incense I’ve ever used. Handmade from Japan, it’s low smoke and subtle scent always prompt a deep inhale and “mmm, that smells so good” from my students. My favorite is Kyoto Autumn Leaves.
5. No time to practice?
Follow Gita’s simple, quick practice you can do right now, sitting on the couch, bed, wherever you are is a great place to start. 5 minutes of yummy beginnings for you!
6. Need advice of how to feel better during a busy day?
Try Gita’s favorite quick-fix technique that you can use anywhere, anytime to generate more health and peace!
7. Have a little shoulder or neck pain?
Follow Gita’s favorite fix when I get hunchy-roundy shoulders. Nice deep breaths will help calm your entire body and mind, too! Enjoy!
8. Meet Gita and Jessica
I started yoga back in high school, circa 1990 something-or-the-other. I was that weird girl at the performing arts high school who chanted, visualized and meditated in my dorm room. I continued my path throughout college and grad school, earning degrees in clarinet performance from some pretty hoity-toity music schools. Along the way, yoga was my constant companion as I strived to achieve artistic perfection and sanity during my intense classical music training. I remember roommates at Aspen Music Festival laughing and snickering as I chanted om and stretched before playing. Although it pissed me off, I continued with my practice. I knew that yoga brought me greater clarity, enhanced my technical prowess, and stemmed the tide of a nagging tendonitis that was a result of hours of rehearsals playing the bass clarinet.
Along the way , I fell in love and married a great guy I met back in junior high school. Years later, my joy turned to suffering as he developed a crippling addiction to drugs and alcohol. Yoga became my daily sanctuary as I desperately watched him struggle, feeling utterly powerless. For over a decade I experienced spiraling despair as I witnessed him suffer, eventually facing my deepest fears when we decided to divorce. As I began to resurrect my shattered life I knew that I must fundamentally change my ways, lest I repeat my own negative patterns of over-work, deception, and anxiety. Once again, I turned to yoga, diving deep into my studies; yoga helped me learn to release fear and anxiety-replacing them with love, faith, and a perspective so big that suffering turned into a flyspeck instead of an abyss. I changed my life completely, making a shift to attracting peace, friends, prosperity, a flourishing career, and new love. I share my passion of yoga with my students, it’s a blessing to help spread the light! I particularly love working with people brand-new to yoga and my awesome students in Yoga for the Special Child®.
My name is Jessica, I am twenty six years old and have five children, the oldest who is nine and happens to have Down Syndrome. The youngest is eighteen months and has been doing yoga since before she was born. My three in the middle are seven, five, and three and only do yoga when I am not looking. Oh yeah, and they are all girls. I love them with all of my heart, and although I never envisioned the life that I lead, it is mine to embrace.
I always wanted to be successful, have a lot of money, and travel whenever I wanted. When I was sixteen I got pregnant, and still thought I would have all of that. When I was seventeen, my daughter Jaylin was born with Down Syndrome and a hole in her heart, and was very sick for the first months of her life. During that time, I changed. I still wanted success and money, but they no longer mattered as much as they once did. I managed to graduate high school, and took a couple of college courses in between her and my second daughter, Georgie. After having two, my life was officially on hold. My first priority changed from earning an education to being the best mom. The birth of my daughter, Frankie came next, with Charlotte after her. When Charlotte was thirteen months old, I began thinking about doing yoga, bringing me to where I am today-on my third year of practicing yoga, working on keeping my body and mind healthy.
Yoga hasn’t exactly saved my life, but it has made it a lot more peaceful!
When I first came to yoga, I was a nervous wreck all of the time, now I am only a nervous wreck about twenty percent of the time, which has really made me a happier person. In the past I relied heavily on medication for my anxiety and depression, and while I’m not totally independent of it yet, I am getting closer. In yoga I have learned to let things go, that there is already a plan in place, and my job is just to live it and do my best. It really has taken a huge burden off of my shoulders to know that I am not in control of everything.
In a more physical aspect, learning how to breathe properly and do asanas that stimulate relaxation have really saved me time and again. I know that yoga is not magic, and I have put a lot of work into making myself better, but it is empowering to know that there are things that I can do to combat my inner demons without just passively relying on medication. I am not against medication, I still love it! It is just good to know that it is not the fix all for everything, and that I can feel even better with a few simple techniques.
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