4 Reasons Why Yoga Is for Everyone

I often get emails and comments from people telling me they want to start yoga but don’t think they have what it takes. I’m too big, I’m not flexible, I could never do that pose or I don’t have the strength. These are just some of the many excuses people put in the way of them and their yoga practice.


Here is something I’ve learned through my journey with yoga thus far; it is truly not about the destination. It’s not about putting your legs behind your head or standing on your hands, and this is something you will learn quickly if you go to any yoga studio. Yoga is a journey of self-love and acceptance. Perhaps, for this reason, yoga is best for those who think they can’t.It doesn’t matter if you can’t do a single pushup, or if your hands don’t even touch the ground in a forward bend. There is a famous saying by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, founder of the Ashtanga yoga method that says “practice and all is coming.” Yoga is about dedicating oneself to their practice as a means of becoming more self-aware. Some of the advanced poses are bonuses of a regular practice, but not everyone gets there and that is completely OK. Yoga is an individualized practice and you work wherever you are comfortable.


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Here are some reasons why yoga is truly for everyone.


1. You can find a style that suits your needs – All yoga classes are not created equal. Some are more vigorous while others are based more on meditation or relaxation. There are even therapy-based yoga classes which specialize in specific types of injuries or ailments such as chronic back pain or rheumatoid arthritis. Do some research, reach out to different yoga instructors to get an idea of their style, and possibly try out a few different types. When you find one that suits your needs, stick with it!


2. Yoga is a personal practice – The main goal is not something physical, like building strength or getting lean abs. The most important aspect of any yoga practice is finding oneself, accepting oneself as they are, and working to become a better person on the inside. Everyone’s journey is different and unique and one should not compare themselves to others. Many yoga styles even encourage developing a home-based practice as a means of personalized self-growth.


3. Yogis are non-judgmental – Yoga encourages a completely judge free atmosphere. Yogis will generally be very accepting and supportive in your journey. They will not judge you for your size or abilities, mostly because they are focusing on their own personal journeys…not to mention they were once beginners as well. Just try it. Sign up at a yoga studio for the minimum amount of classes they offer and commit to sticking it out. I guarantee you will be surprised by how supportive and welcoming everyone will be.

4. You are bound to get better with time –One of the worst excuses you can give is that you are not flexible/strong/skinny/whatever enough to do yoga. You must remember that every single person started somewhere…yes even the most advanced yogis were once beginners. One of my biggest inspirations is Kino Macgregor, who is a well-known Ashtanga yogi who travels worldwide to teach. She didn’t begin yoga until 19 years of age without any training in movement therapy, and is now learning the fourth series of Ashtanga yoga (there are six series and most people never move beyond the first series!).



With patience, and practice comes change. You may only be able to touch your shins in a forward fold, but a few months down the road you will get to your toes. You might need a wall or a teacher to help you into a headstand but one year down the road you will do it on your own. So long as you don’t give up, change is bound to occur.


The change that has occurred through my yoga journey extends far beyond physicality. Sure I can touch my head to my shins in the forward fold (something I never thought I would do). I can balance upside down on my forearms. But more than any pose, I have gained an appreciation for myself; an appreciation for what I am capable of becoming, an appreciation for who I am and what I have. I’ve learned patience, I’ve learned mindfulness, and most importantly, I’ve learned to love myself even on the bad days. Now that is an important lesson for anyone.

A Morning Yoga Routine

Yoga is a full-body workout that really incorporates a great balance that is hard to find in other exercise routines. It encompasses both physical and mental strength, endurance,  flexibility, balance, and relaxation all in one. It’s quite near impossible to hit all of those elements together in any other form of workout. Since we’ve been focusing a lot on endurance and strength training I thought it would be nice to take it a little slower this week with a morning yoga routine.

This workout is meant to flow so you should move through each pose back-to-back with no rest in between. If you wish you may repeat this sequence up to 4 times. So grab bottle of water and lets hit the mat!


Tree Pose (Vrksasana) 

Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

Plank Position (Phalakasana) 

Yoga Push-Up (Chaturanga)

Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana)

Cat-Cow (Marjaiasana & Bitilasana)

Child’s Pose (Balasana)


Tree Pose (Vrksasana) 


Start in Mountain Pose with feet shoulder width apart and hands on hips. Inhale and bring the sole of your right foot to your inner calve or thigh. Exhale to reach the arms overhead. Stay here for 5 breaths, then repeat on the other leg.

Forward Fold (Uttanasana)


Begin in Mountain Pose by standing with feet shoulder width apart and hands on hips. Take a deep breath in and then exhale as you hinge at the hips to bend forward, sucking in the belly. Bring hands flat onto the ground right by the outer edges of the feet. To modify you may either use a yoga block or keep the knees bent. Stay here for 10 breaths.

Plank Position (Phalakasana) 


From forward fold, inhale and lift the chest up and look forward to straighten the spine, then exhale and step back one foot at a time until you are in a full plank position. Hands should be flat on the ground directly under the shoulders, feet hips distance apart. Squeeze the abs here and be sure to keep the body in a straight line. Hold for 5 breaths.

Yoga Push-Up (Chaturanga)


From your plank position, keep the elbows close by your side and directly over the wrist, then exhale and slowly lower the body to hover a few inches above the ground. Fully engage the body and squeeze the abs. To modify you may drop down to the knees. Hold this position for 3-5 breaths.

Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)


From Chaturanga, inhale and bring the chest forward and straighten out the elbows until they are directly under the shoulders. Switch from tucking your toes to pressing the tops of the feet on the floor and keep drawing upward through the chest. Lift the torso and legs a few inches off of the floor. To modify you may slightly rest the thighs on the floor. Hold for 3-5 breaths.

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)


From upward dog, exhale and press back into down dog by lifting the tailbone upwards towards the ceiling. Curl the toes under and re-position the body so that the feet are hips distance apart and weight should be evenly distributed between hands and feet. Draw the sit-bones back towards the wall behind you and try to press the back heels into the mat for a nice stretch along the hamstrings. The ears should be aligned with the upper arms and let the head relax but do not let it dangle. Stay here for 5 breaths.

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana)


Here is where you finally get to relax those arms! From down dog, inhale as you lift the right leg high then exhale and step it forward in between the hands. Spin the left heel inwards so the foot is flat and the toes are pointing slightly out. Exhale as you lift the arms up above the head, bringing the body into a deep lung. Relax the shoulder blades down the back and allow the bent knee to come slightly forward over the right ankle. Square the hips towards the front of the room and stay here for 5 breaths. Then, inhale and switch to the other side simply by pivoting around and bending the left leg forward to lung on the other side. Hold here for another 5 breaths.

Cat-Cow (Marjaiasana & Bitilasana)


Shake out the legs and make your way back down to the mat. Start on all fours (tabletop position) with the knees directly under the hips, wrists directly under the shoulders, toes tucked under, and the spine in a neutral position. Inhale deeply, then exhale and make your way to the cat position by tucking in the chin and arching the spine towards the ceiling. Engage your abs and think about pulling the belly button in and up. Then, inhale and begin to enter cow position by arching the back in the opposite direction, releasing the abs and fixing your gaze up towards the ceiling. Repeat the Cat Poses on your exhales and Cow Poses on your inhales for 10 breaths.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)


From tabletop position inhale deeply, then exhale and, leaving your feet where they are, pull the tailbone back and lower the torso over the thighs. Lengthen the spine by pulling the ribs and tailbone away from each other and reach the crown of the head away from your shoulders. Keep the arms extended in front of the body. Hold for 10 slow and deep breaths.


















Which Type of Yogi Are You?

Yoga seems to be growing immensely in popularity. Everywhere I look I find aspiring yogis. I suppose this has to do with its amazing physical and mental benefits. Yoga encompasses many important aspects of balanced fitness, such as strength, flexibility, relaxation, and perhaps most importantly, inner fortitude. Yoga is a practice of constantly challenging both the mind and the body. As I have taken an interest in yoga myself I have been getting a lot of questions from women asking where to begin with yoga.

The first and most important step in beginning a yoga practice is determining which type of yoga is right for you. Yoga is such a personal and individualized practice that is not a one-size-fits-all. The type of yoga I perform may not be right for someone else, and vice versa. It’s all about your interests, your goals, and your personal style. Here I will discuss six common forms of yoga. It is my hope with this post that you will be able to find your inner yogi!


Hatha Yoga







The term hatha yoga refers to a few different styles of yoga that are combined to create a simple class that teaches the basic poses. Although this form of yoga can differ, in general it is a gentle, slow-paced class that combines poses with breathing techniques. Hatha yoga is great for beginners but keep in mind that you may have to try out a few different classes to find one that suits your pace.


Lyengar Yoga


This gentle form of yoga is slow-paced and very detail-oriented, really emphasizing proper alignment in order to strengthen the muscles while protecting the joints. These classes often use props like yoga blocks and straps in order to help the practitioner get into the poses. For these reasons, lyengar yoga is another great style for beginners who want to learn proper technique, as well as people who suffer from pain. However, if you are experiencing pain due to some type of neck, back or other injury, you should always consult with a physician before taking up any form of physical activity, including yoga.  This class is often quite long, between 90 minutes to two hours, and includes standing, seated and twisting asanas (poses) as well as inversions like shoulder stands and backbends. Don’t let the inversions scare you away! They provide many benefits to the physical body and your teacher will always help you to modify and work your way up.


Kundalini Yoga


A very soft form of yoga that is more about the emotional experience, rather than the physical one. Classes include a mix of meditation, breathing techniques, chanting, and yoga poses. Kundalini yoga is great for those who are looking to gain the relaxation benefits of yoga.


Bikram Yoga


Also known as hot yoga, this is a more challenging type of yoga where you do a sequence of 26 poses in a very hot room that is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius). Hot yoga is great for those wanting to increase flexibility, as the heat tends to loosen up the muscles, which in turn increases one’s ability to stretch further.


Vinyasa Yoga


Also known as power yoga this type of westernized yoga is somewhat like hatha in that it contains a mix of different yoga styles, but is more fast-paced. This is a very athletic and challenging form of yoga and is great for those who are ready to move at a faster pace and those who want to lose weight. Power yoga is based on the sequence of poses in the ashtanga yoga series which we will get to next. This yoga class will include vinyasa’s (sequences of continuous movement), standing and seated asanas, and even some inversions.


Ashtanga Yoga


This is probably the most physically demanding of all yoga forms. Ashtanga includes a non-stop series of vinyasa’s and asanas combined with a breathing technique to connect the mind and body. This style of yoga is deeply rooted in tradition and is practiced the same way every-time with the practitioner mastering poses one at a time as they are physically able. This form of yoga is great for those who are relatively experienced in yoga as well as those who like structure and challenge.





The Weekend Runner: Hot Yoga at Hot Yo Studio

I’m hanging up my running shoes for this weekend because:

1)     My back, neck, and knees were hurting, so no high impact workout.

2)     Running was starting to feel like a routine, so taking a break for a few days will be a good way to mentally reset myself.


I knew the right remedy for this was a good stretch, and I immediately thought about a hot pilates class that I used to go at a boutique gym/studio called Urban Spring. Unfortunately, the class that I wanted did not fit into my timing. So, out of curiosity, I stumbled across an app called KFit (it might not be available worldwide yet, but it is available in Asia), where you can find thousands of drop-in classes for gym, yoga, bootcamp, TRX, etc. and you can redeem one free class per month. And that’s where I found the perfect alternative – a hot yoga class at a new studio called Hot Yo Studio.


IMG_1290I prefer small, independent, boutique gyms/studios over franchises. They make me feel right at home because the crowd is smaller and more intimate.


I love how they put thought into the design, continuing on the monochrome theme from the studio, to the receptionist, changing room, and even the shower.


As soon as I sat down on my yoga mat in the 38°C studio, I can feel my muscles and joints starting to relax. There was a range of flexibility and experience from today’s crowd, so the instructor focused on some really basic ones such as tree pose, cobra pose, and pigeon pose, but she did encouraged us to follow more complicated poses as well such as half lotus toe balance.

IMG_1291 Warming up


My last experience in hot pilates has taught me to wear as simple as possible. Inner hijab caps are a big no, because the tight fabric will hinder circulation, causing a massive headache from the heat. Thankfully, Nashata’s Iman hijab was sufficient to ensure that my hair stays in place without the help of a cap. It is also advisable to wear something form-fitting yet not too tight, so the instructor will be able to tell if you are doing your poses correctly.

IMG_1293 Nashata’s outfits are not limited to running only. They are perfect for other work outs too!


At the end of the 60 minutes session, I felt ‘light’ and toned because the sweat has helped me detoxified, and the best part was the back and knee pain was gone! It was a good stretch to realign my posture and loosen up the tight muscles. I did not experience any muscle soreness or fatigue, and I am now mentally recharged to start running again. I’ll be back as soon as I can slot in a session between my running schedule!



A cold and refreshing shower after the work out, with complimentary shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and towel.


For more info, head to:

Urban Spring’s website (http://www.urban-spring.com/intro.html) for more info on hot pilates

Hot Yo Studio’s website (http://hotyostudio.com/#home) for more info on hot yoga


Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.