Reader Challenge

Positivity Challenge Week 21: Try Yoga

People who practice yoga have become one of those groups of people, along with marathon runners, Diva Cup users, and vegans, who can be so evangelical about their passion that they shoehorn it into every conversation. As a result, many people who don’t practice yoga are sick of hearing about it. I get it, I really do… when someone tells me that such and such is the best thing that ever happened to them, over and over again, and talks about it non-stop, it only serves to push me away from it, too. I’m contrary like that. So I understand if, the instant you saw this week’s topic, you were like, “No way, no how, I can’t believe it’s yet another person telling me to do yoga. I hate it.”

[dropcap4 bgColor=”#4D4D4D”]A[/dropcap4]nd if you’ve tried it and it’s not for you, then fair point, thanks for reading this far, and I’ll see you next week. If, however, you’ve never tried it before, or you have and you’re willing to give it another shot, then let’s get to it!

Why Yoga?

(Image: Yoga Peep, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from f-oxymoron’s photostream)

While yoga has a long history as part of the spiritual discipline of Buddhism and Hinduism (among other eastern religions), yoga practiced today focuses primarily on two aspects of the ancient traditions: asana (physical poses) and pranayama (breathing exercises). This combination of physical effortand concentrated effort on breathing can make for a perfect environment where you can shut out the world for a moment and concentrate fully on yourself.

It’s not about how well you can do a pose or how long you can stretch out your breath. Yoga is all about doing what feels comfortable to you. Taking the time to be mindful of yourself, your external stressors, time to check in with yourself and see what you need. This self-care and time to clear your mind and just be with yourself for a bit can do a great deal to fight the anxiety, worry, and the day to day stress that chips away at our positivity. I know that I find myself coming out of a yoga class much more refreshed than when I go in, no matter what the day has put upon me. At the same time you’re working on grounding yourself, your body is getting refreshed as well, becoming stronger, more flexible, and working more efficiently for you.

Where Do I Start?

If you can, find a class in your area. The advantages of getting out of your home, into a classroom, and having the interaction with a live teacher cannot be overstated. You’re there for the class, and not for any other purpose. You don’t have dishes to put away or a dog sticking its butt in your face, or people walking in and out around you. You’re there and focused and the instructor can remind you when to watch your alignment and even come over and help you if you’re just not getting a certain pose. Anything labeled as Beginner Yoga, Gentle or Hatha Yoga, Relaxation Yoga, or Destress Yoga is probably a good class to start with. A la carte studio classes can range anywhere from $5 to $15 per class, but many studios will offer a trial class for free (even if they don’t advertise one, it’s worth an ask). If you have a gym membership, check their group fitness schedules for classes. Also, check local community calendars for free yoga classes out and about. Depending on your area, LivingSocial or Groupon seem to frequently offer packages of classes, too (check the schedule before buying to see what kind of variety/times they offer). If you try a class and don’t like the style or the teacher, don’t give up, try another. Every teacher is different and some teachers just won’t be right for you, but once you find a teacher whose style you mesh with, you’ll start to get why yoga people love it.

No, Seriously, I Don’t Want To Leave The House

If the idea of doing something outside your comfort zone in a room full of strangers just adds more anxiety onto your pile of stressors, there are ways to practice in the comfort of your own home (and hopefully work up to a studio class).

  • Streaming TV: If you have a subscription to Netflix or HuluPlus, check out the listings for their yoga offerings. Just as with actual classes, if at first you dislike the teacher, try another.
  • Yoga Subscriptions: If you want a subscription just for yoga or fitness videos, sites like GaiamTV (which I reviewed a few months back), YogaGlo, and YogaDownload (among others) are great repositories of classes, and most have free trial periods where you can check out the options and see what instructors and styles you like.
  • YogaJournal Website: The most popular yoga magazine has an amazingly comprehensive website where you can find pre-made practices, office destressers, a 21-Day Yoga Challenge, and even break downs of individual poses if you’re finding one tricky.
  • Yogamazing Podcast: One of the first (and still one of the best) yoga podcasts, Yogamazing puts out a practice a week, from general yoga, to very specific practices for body aches, professions, and athletic interests. You can download the video podcasts for free, or buy the app for $5 and get even more content.
  • Also, while it’s not a practice, our very own Emilie’s You Could Use a Little Yoga series is great reading for all levels of yoga practitioners.
This Week’s Challenge

Try some yoga. Whether it’s a class or a streaming video or a podcast or putting something together on your own, try some yoga. Let us know what you think, what you like or don’t like, and maybe other yoga enthusiast readers can help point you toward your ideal yoga practice.

This Week’s Mantra

The foundation of all yoga practice and something everyone can master is the basis for this week’s mantra: Breathe


If you want a reminder of your mantra for the next week, feel free to click the image above to download a wallpaper-sized version.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or mental health expert, and there are problems that positivity cannot overcome, so please do not take this advice in lieu of a doctor’s care.

Not all challenges will be relevant to everyone, so I welcome you to come and go as you please and take from each challenge what works for you! Please make sure to share your thoughts in the comments!

By Crystal Coleman

Florida girl living on the west coast. During the day, I consult in social media and community management. I have a really cute puppy (Elphaba) and a British husband (I keep him for his accent) as well as an unhealthy relationship with parentheses.

20 replies on “Positivity Challenge Week 21: Try Yoga”

It’s not about how well you can do a pose or how long you can stretch out your breath.

It is known.

Looking pretty in a pose is not the point of yoga; that’s one of the hardest lessons to teach, and the students who can’t get over their ego/vanity are usually the ones who end up hurting themselves over time. But it’s so deeply ingrained, and so many beginners get discouraged quickly because they think they’re not “good at” yoga, as if there even were such a thing.

It makes me sad (as does the phrase “yoga pants,” because you don’t need special pants to practice yoga. But that’s a pet rant of mine for another day.)

So, uhm, well, I’m sick. And sometimes I’m really sick. But mostly I’m ok, but when you’re A Sick Person, you become incredibly aware of your body in ways that A Healthy Person is generally not. But, as a result, I can sometimes have a really unhealthy relationship with my body. This is vague I know, but one way this manifests is that, when I FEEL my body, it’s because it FEELS bad. I can, for example, feel a charlie horse coming on, like, oh, I bet I’m going to wake up with one…. etc. etc.

Yoga has been a way to feel my body differently. Someone else said a ‘kinesthetic relationship,’ yes. This. I can feel my body. Yes, sometimes its limitations, but mostly, I’m always surprised with my ‘athleticism’ and my bodies ability to, well, hold itself up, when frequently I don’t have the strength to do basic house hold tasks.

I can hardly ever run, I can’t always bike, but I can always flow a little.

Just fortheloveofgod don’t make me go “ommm..”**


** I’ve rectified this a little. I may not participate, but I look for studios and classes and teachers that understand that everything takes time, from that damn pigeon pose, to headstands, and, yea, even to opening your mouth and saying ‘om.’

Yeah, I’m not so much of an “omm”er myself.

You hit on one of the things I love most about yoga and that’s its accessibility. From chair poses, to breathing, to all the variations of poses, it’s all about feeling what your body can do and what your body wants to do. I’m so glad you’ve found teachers that help you do what you can and that it’s helping you so much!

I signed up for the 21-day-challenge because ..I don’t even know. I have had some good and bad experiences with yoga and decided it’s time to let the good weigh out the bad.

Although the first message says it’s starting on Jan. 9 so maybe I will have enough time to get used to the idea.

Yoga classes to avoid if you’re a beginner, there for relaxation: bikram, ashtanga, or anything labelled ‘hot’ yoga. That’s not to say those classes can’t be relaxing, but they are quite physically intense.

My personal favourite is Iyengar yoga because it’s precise and with the props there’s a huge variety of poses for whatever stage you’re at with each one. Yoga overall has helped me most with kinaesthetic awareness and mindfulness: it’s amazing how moving an arm an inch one way, or tightening one muscle group while relaxing another, can make an uncomfortable pose much more bearable and even enjoyable.

Excellent point! I totally forgot to add names to avoid as a beginner.

I’ve never had the opportunity to do an Iyengar class, but I’m looking forward to moving to an area soon where there’s more variety of classes to try! And yes… that feeling of shifting a pose just right and it just clicking and thinking “Yes! Wow, this is what it was supposed to feel like!” is so great!

I was very skeptical of yoga when my sister and dad started harping on me to try it out.  I was an athlete all throughout high school and college so I had a very specific image in my head of what a workout consisted of… lifting weights, plyometrics, running, biking, swimming, etc.  By the end of college I was bored by of all of those workouts so I decided to give yoga a try, and I was very pleasantly surprised!  I’ve always been a very anxious, high strung person that has a hard time falling a sleep and/or relaxing.  Since I started doing it regularly I’ve been able to calm myself down from being panicked to being focused, which wasn’t possible before.  I know it’s certainly not for everyone, but it has sincerely helped me overcome some things that antidepressants/anti-anxiety meds have failed to help.  If someone is looking to start yoga I also highly recommend the classes and please don’t be discouraged if you don’t like the first one.  I’ve had ~10 yoga teachers, and I’ve liked only half… but my friends liked the other half a lot more than I did!  It’s really about personal preference. I like the instructors that are very intense while others prefer ones that are calmer, so if you go to one that isn’t what you like, try someone else!

Edited to say: I hope I don’t come off as a yoga evangelist!  That’s not what I was going for, rather I was hoping to convey that I understand the reluctance as I was reluctant myself.

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