Anyone who feels uncomfortable stiffness and limited in their yoga practice, or simply in life doesn't need experts to convince them of the benefits of feeling flexible. If you had to pick between feeling stiff and rigid v. bendy and nimble - almost everyone would opt for feeling fluid and flexible. This article will keep it to the basics, but if it scratches your stretching itch, by all means dive in more deeply.
Perhaps like me you have been told that once you are an adult the degree to which you can increase the total potential your body's natural bendiness. A predisposition for flexibility along with training prior to puberty can absolutely result in physical capabilities well beyond average. While we may always be trailing women who spent significant time in gymnastics and ballet from a very young age, for the common person who is feeling stiff they aren't interest in putting their foot behind their head when touching their foot would be a win.
Most of us, when we are feeling inflexible and stiff, aren't seeking out a new threshold of flexibility, but rather are seeking to bring the body back to a natural suppleness that should be (and absolutely can be) present. Comfort and and control of natural range (not a desire for extreme range or contortion) is the pursuit for most.
You may be wondering if there are basic things you can do that help a deeper and more enjoyable practice for your joints. If you're feeling stiff are you doomed to feel that way forever because it simply was the 'way you were made'? And can that knowledge of stretching science help with both safety and physical advancement?
If the answer is a resounding YES then read on . Beware this post is long... so skip down to the end if you want the key takeaways ...
Are you looking to get into Vinyasa (flow) yoga? Are you interested in incorporating mindful movement at home? Have you tried and failed?
I totally understand. Our bodies need variety, challenge, and rest. And our mind needs motivation and reward to keep coming back.
That's why my team has 7 FREE days to help get you started. Practice Yoga, workout, and try on mindfulness practices with an instructor that is working right alongside you. And all of us are real-deal teachers that work day in and day out with clients like you. So it will feel warm, friendly, knowledgeable. and like you have your personal yoga and fitness instructor in your own living room... because you sort of will!
What you MUST know before you get started ...
It often happens often and creeps up quickly — you've skip a workout, then inevitably, two. Before you know it, you've missed a week or two of exercise. Do you simply dive back into your previous routine or should you make up for it by adding extra minutes or even doubling your effort?
The short answer is 'no' and the long answer is, 'it's a little more complicated than that'.
Short Term Braks
When you miss a workout, by a day or two, not much has likely happened to your body. There's really no reason to "double up" and in fact doing so might actually hurt more than it helps.
Significantly more intense or long lasting workouts that are far beyond what your body is used to are much more likely to open up an opportunity for injury. At the very least a significantly longer or extra vigorous workout is going to leave you most sore, and that higher than normal level of soreness might dissuade you from working out the next day - and thus the cycle continues.
So rather than calling it a 'miss' consider a short-term break, and hop right back in.
But what about longer breaks ...
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Are you looking to create the personal wellness space in your home that function beautifully as both workout and meditation space - on a budget? Any quick search online is going to provide you with dozen of ideas for expensive equipment, if you've seen the aftermarket for large equipment like stationary bikes and treadmills you'll understand that cardio equipment might be taking up more space than they are worth (and not to mention they are expensive leaving little room in your budget for anything else). You can create a great space in your home without expensive professional gym equipment. This guide will show you what you need to get started.
Evolve from "Gym" to a Mindful Movement Space
A home gym can mean different things depending on what movement you love. But for many of us when we hear "home gym" we assume that we have to invest in a bench, a bar, heavy weight racks and convert our garage into a room for pumping iron. But since you're reading this blog, I'm guessing that's NOT quite what you had in mind. A space in your home that is both a place for mindful movement, challenging workouts, and relaxed enough for meditation.
When selecting items for your space there are a few things to consider:
Small and Shared Spaces
Even in small spaces you can create a movement and meditation area that is portable, functional, and enjoyable. For those in an apartment, or sharing their movement and meditation space with another function in the home, it's important to select items that can offer multiple uses, are portable and made of materials that won't scratch floors or rip furniture.
Respecting The Budget
When it comes to spending money in items for your movement and mediation space it is important to remember that the price tag isn't the only consideration, the durability of the products is equally important. Time and time again people buy cheap $20 or $30 yoga mats that have a cheap price tag, but they don't perform well and that money invested is really a waste. So premium quality products are important because they ensure that the investment will continue to offer return over a long period of time.
That said, no one needs to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to create a Mindful Movement space. A few select investments and know where you should direct your more of dollars is the best way to ensure that you are going to be pleased for a long time. Look for equipment that offer multiple functions so that you can pursue variety and cross-training in your space. These are items like a Yoga Mat, firm yoga blocks, kettle bells and free weights, and resistance bands.
Here are my must-haves for a space that can host an amazing workout and double up as a calm meditation space too.
1. Enroll with a Mindful Movement Service Provider
Usage and value of your space depends on personal motivation. If you never use any of these products it won't matter how much you spent because it was ultimately a waste. I often find that even as someone who has worked professional as a personal trainer and a Yoga Teacher for a decade, and have been practicing Yoga & Meditation for over 18 years, I still greatly benefit from the guidance and instruction of someone else. I also benefit from variety and flexibility in of day and length of a session. Connecting with my mindful movement family at Practice Everywhere offers accountability and also takes away mental pressure and fatigue. But truly, I recommend that anyone find a service provider rather than simply embarking on their own to ensure that the products they buy are sure to get use.
Selecting a fitness channel or app doesn't have to be a daunting experience. Most offer a free trial and the service itself is significantly less expensive than in person sessions because the cost of the instructor is getting spread out across the whole community. Of course I am biased, and would suggest that everyone become a member of Practice Everywhere for Yoga, Fitness & Meditation videos on a site that is rolling out new content several times per week for only $9.99/mo. For those that want even more accountability, I encourage adding on live virtual classes. But even if you are not a Practice Everywhere members, do find a fitness channel or app that works for you (or even a couple that you can rotate throughout your week). Virtual training and instruction is a great way to connection with others ( an absolutely essential for continued motivation) and stay on budget (online services are typically much less than in-person).
Start your journey: watch.practiceeverywhere.com
2. Get a High Quality Yoga Mat
A yoga mat for this set-up is not just for asana practice. It also is your primary surface for all of your fitness modalities done in your home mindful movement space from mat pilates to vinyasa yoga to free weights and bodyweight training.
If your mat is made of plastic or foam (do not buy a PVC mat; and despite the number of times in the last 8-10 years companies have tried to convince me otherwise I have never found a mat made of PVC that could actually go the distance). I am going to be bold and just tell you that if you have a foamy style plastic mat - it's time to replace it. And if you have one of those "washable" mats that is fabric on top and foamy grip on the bottom, keep it if it's working for you. But more often than not I find that may not be tough enough either. But good news, you don't need to throw your cheaper mats away. A cheap mat can be cut up and used for knee pads. But it really should be your go-to surface for your movement practice.
I recommend mats that are made of rubber or synthetic rubber that are 5-6 MM thick. Some cork mats are nice for practice. However, I find that despite their eco-friendly claims, cork mats often fall apart faster meaning you're replacing it twice as fast and therefore the claim of being better for the environment is not necessarily true.
Look for a mat that is super grippy, wide enough for your shoulders, thick and firm enough to support joints, and sweat wicking so you don't slip (i.e. your sweat doesn't pool up on top of it).
Here are my favorites:
The Practice Mat shop.practiceeverywhere.com
3. Yoga Blocks
Similarly to yoga mats, blocks are often sold with soft foamy material. And honestly, those just don't hold up long term. But what is my larger concern with yoga blocks found at the discount stores is that they are often not solid enough to become the platform they need to be in many propped yoga pose usage. When it comes to yoga blocks look for firm-foam or solid well-pressed cork. Cork is a great option when it coms to yoga blocks because blocks don't endure the foot traffic of yoga mats, so they will hold up well for the long run.
Eco-strength is one of my favorite brands. Find them here.
4. Resistance Bands
This versatile piece of equipment is also the least expensive on this list! Resistance bands or loops are a fantastic add to your home mindful movement space. Why I love them is because they are a great way to amp up some of your favorite moves like squats, planks and leg lifts, and more! The resistance they offer challenges deep stabilizing muscles. So something as simple as a basic squat or chair pose is transformed into a more comprehensive hip stability and strength move. Perhaps maybe the best part of resistance bands is their price tag. Check them out here:
5. Light & Heavy Dumbbells
A lot of trainers will tell you to reach for kettlebells. And I'm not opposed to kettlebells. I like them and use them a lot in my own workouts. But I knew that for this blog I had to make some edits. So if I had to choose an weight item, dumbbells are it. Grab a pair that is lighter 5 - 10lbs, and a pair that is heavier 10 - 20lbs. A heavy dumbbell can actually help you achieve many of the same moves you would do with a kettle bell because the bell on the dumbbell on larger weights is large enough for grip. Yes the orientation of weight on a kettle bell v a dumbbell is optimize for things like squats and swings, you can still get a very similar experience with a dumbbell - plus so much more. They are hard to find during the holidays so if you can find a pair at the weight that you want, snag them quickly!
Say hello to your core, your booty, your shoulders and you inner and outer inner thighs! Sliders create opportunities to pull, push, and stabilize with the lower body and upper body in a way you often can't find without expensive equipment. This is because the slippery sliding material forces your body to stabilize through out the entire range of motion meaning the time under tension is increased.
Building this level of control isn't just something that makes us feel strong, it help us stay safe! And conscientious exercise is a must for any mindful movement experience. Plus this piece of equipment can tuck away into any bag or piece of luggage so you can have a portable workout anywhere you go. Find one here.
7. Fitness Step
Fitness isn't just about sculpted muscles, it's primarily about functional and positive maintenance to support healthy living and aging. One of the things that every person should consider, at any age but especially when we get older, is balance and stability when moving between different surfaces. Building confidence and skill changing elevation by stepping up and down (and side to side) helps develop coordination which can prevent slips and falls, and minimize the damage when falls do happen
But that's not all. Fitness steps have so many uses, from substituting as a bench, and allowing for a greater range of motion for hips and shoulder moves. Many fitness steps also have storage hidden inside making it a great investment for small spaces! This step/bench/storage combo is my absolute fav!
8. Yoga Bolster
What I love about a yoga bolster is that it doesn't just offer soft support, it offers education! When you use a bolster to sit for meditation you begin to understand the relationship between your hip flexors and low back. When you use it for cushion under your knees in savasana you begin to understand the relationship between your hamstrings and low back. When you use a bolster behind your back for supported fish or queens chair, you begin to understand the relationship between your chest, arms, neck, and upper back. This piece of equipment is similar to a mattress. Some like cushy. Some like very firm. Either way you want one that retains its shape over a long period of time and provides the support you need. A removable washable cover is also a great bonus feature to ensure a clean practice. Here are a few of my favorites.
I am a big fan of keeping a journal of your activity. Traditionally in the gym a notebook was used for tracking and counting. But I understand that for some people that can become obsessive. I have put together a FREE meditation journal guide for anyone that wants to get into the habit of wellness journalling and divorce themselves form boring number counting. The idea is not just to see 'improvement' but rather to allow your journal to hold space for your thoughts, feelings, and emotions along the entire spectrum of your experience to have a place to be expressed.
And a beautiful journal to go with it makes the process so much more enjoyable. I love these artfully crafted journals by The Rainbow Vision.
10. Bluetooth enabled sports headphones
Ok you might have earbuds for your iPhone already, but I highly invest in having a pair that you dedicate to your movement space. Look for a pair that has silicon fittings so that they won't fall out of your ears. And if you have a pair dedicated to your work you can leave them to charge while you aren't moving or meditating ensuring that they are ready when you need them.
Having bluetooth enable headphones also helps you tap into your favorite fitness channel, or listen to your motivating playlist without having to turn down the noise in shared space or disrupting the rest of the household. Win-win!
I'm a sucker for Bose. I think their sound quality is superior and I like the ear fitting design. They are comfortable and don't fall out. Bose has a lot of options and colors to choose from.
Now I would love to hear from you. Tell me in the comments, what is YOUR source of motivation to keep mindful movement a part of your daily life. Write your response in the comments for everyone to read, reply, and enjoy!
Body. Mind. Business.
Hi there! You found me. My name is Julia Marie Lopez. For 20 years I have studied meditation and mindful movement as my primary tools for healing. For the past 10 years I have worked as a wellness business owner and I am the Founder of Practice Everywhere.
Since I offer you my experience and perspective, share my writing about life, love and wellness, and offer a bit of unsolicited advice, I think you should also know that I do include affiliate links and promotions in some of blogs. If you make an action (such as sign ups, memberships, or purchases) I might earn a commission. I promise to use this income to support my love of coffee, dogs, yoga, and my family (in no particular order).💜