This is part 2 of my series on my favorite apps/websites for health. Read part 1 here.
I have a number of “areas for improvement” when it comes to my overall health. Strength training, especially for my upper body, is one area, and POPSUGAR is a great tool for that. However, another aspect where I need work is flexibility.
I was always one of the least flexible kids in PE – apparently I missed the year or two where everyone else worked on being able to touch their toes. I was more interested in perfecting free throws on the basketball court…although some of my basketball friends were able to touch their toes too…so I guess my lack of multitasking skills started at an early age.
Since I’m embarrassed by my inflexibility, and I refuse to spend a lot of money to fix it, I started looking for online yoga tutorials. While I’d love to go to a real class and have an instructor who could help me adjust my form, I’m just nowhere near that level. I’m pretty sure form is the basic foundation of yoga, so it would make the most sense for me to go to a class to ensure I was using the right form…however, my lack of flexibility is so bad that it would be in my best interest to focus on coming close to what the poses are supposed to look like before asking for help with my form. In most cases, I don’t think it would even be possible for me to have the correct form because of my horrible flexibility.
Do You Yoga was a website I came across during my yoga tutorial search. They had a 30-day challenge where they sent me a different yoga routine via email every day for 30 days. Since the challenge was old by the time I signed up, all 30 days of videos were posted on their site already. I started from the beginning, but then often found myself jumping around based on what I felt like I needed (yoga for the back; yoga for the neck; yoga for the hips; etc.). If you need the daily reminder, then go ahead and sign up for the emails. I found myself just deleting the emails without even opening them because I had saved the webpage with the whole series as a favorite on my iPad.
What kept me coming back to Do You Yoga was that all of the videos were 10-20 minutes in length, so if I didn’t have a lot of time, I’d just do one video, but if I had more time, I could string a few videos together – like POPSUGAR – to help me hit multiple areas.
The instructor, Erin Motz, is a really down-to-earth person (ha, at least she appears that way in the videos). I didn’t feel that same way about most of the other online yoga instructors I found. What I like about Erin is that she explains what to do, and will move around on the mat so that the camera gets a good angle so you as a viewer (especially a viewer who is super clueless) can see exactly what you’re supposed to do. Erin will also make those of us with little to no flexibility feel better by saying things like, “If you can’t reach all the way around, that’s fine, just do this much.” She provides modifications to poses for those who are super flexible and those who aren’t.
What I also like about Erin is that she doesn’t do a lot of talking once you’re in your pose. Some instructors say a lot of stuff like, “Visualize yourself as a tree, and your legs are like the roots, keeping you secure and grounded.” I totally get that that’s a big part of yoga, but I’m not looking to visualize anything. I just want to do a lot of stretching and increase my body’s strength. Erin does some of the visualization thing, but not enough to bother me.
Just like with POPSUGAR, I watched the videos on my iPad and would use the Apple TV to mirror the video onto my television. It turned my living room into a yoga studio weekday mornings before getting ready for work. When I traveled to Pittsburgh for a work trip, I brought my iPad along so I could do yoga in my hotel room.
What you need: A lot of this will depend on your preferences. I didn’t have a yoga mat, so I bought a cheap one at Walmart. It works perfectly fine for me, but it’s pretty thin, and I’ve noticed that if I’m on a harder surface, the mat doesn’t provide a lot of cushion for my knees. I lay a towel in the area where my knees will land, just to make it slightly more comfortable. In some of the Do You Yoga videos, the instructor will suggest that you use a yoga block. She usually provides alternative options (like a pillow), but I bought a couple blocks from Target. If you use their Cartwheel app, check out the Toys & Sports offers – they’ll often have the Gaiam brand yoga equipment for 30% off. Another tool the instructor uses in a few videos is a yoga strap. I use a towel that I’ve rolled up instead and it works perfectly fine.