I practice yoga or some form of movement, be it walking or dancing, most days with the intention of feeling limber or joyful, unlike my past obsessive approach to exercise. In this blog, I share my yoga practice and review products and online classes that support my practice.
Note: this blog contains affiliate links—an easy way for you to support my work while receiving discounts on products I love and recommend.
Today, yoga is nearly a daily joyful movement practice that I interspersed with walking and the occasional dancing and bike riding.
Unlike in my twenties and early thirties, I now move mostly for fun, relaxation, pain relief, fresh air and social connection.
In the past, exercise was about compensating for or in anticipation of eating or maintaining an appearance of health. However, now my priority is to feel energetic and alive—aka joyful.
Like with eating, I tune in to my body to consider how it wants to be moved—do I need intensity or stretch? Do I need flow or power?
My daily joyful movement practice
I’ll often take a walk in the morning or do a twenty-minute yoga session.
As I work mostly from home, I’ll then break up my day with mini yoga or mindfulness breaks. Often, this may be a five to fifteen-minute energy pick me up or a gentle neck and shoulder stretch session. I may even end the day with an evening unwind yoga session, even if it’s just a spinal twist and forward bend.
What is great about yoga and Pilates is that they can be done easily at home with minimal equipment—basically, a mat will do it.
Equipment for my joyful movement practice
I recently purchased a beautiful cork mat from Valka Yoga, made from sustainable cork and recycled rubber. I chose the mat with the charka design. It is so attractive that I usually keep it unrolled on the floor.
Keeping it out during the day also means that it is a reminder to take short yoga breaks throughout the day.
Since purchasing the mat, Valka Yoga has provided me with a strap, block and wheel. These are great additions to any yoga practice. However, to start a mat will do.
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Valka Yoga Mat
I love this yoga mat. It has such a lovely feel under your feet and hands.
Some of you may know that I am a qualified Pilates instructor. The mat you require for Pilates differs from yoga.
In Pilates, you are mostly lying on the floor. For this reason, the Pilates mat is more padded to prevent pressure on your vertebrae when lying on your back or hip bones when lying on your stomach.
However, in yoga, you spend quite a bit of time on your feet and flowing between poses. A yoga mat needs to be thinner so you can hold balancing poses. But not so thin that there is discomfort when lying on the floor.
Thus, a yoga mat needs to be firm, non-slip and soft.
Surprisingly, cork is a natural non-slip material that becomes less slippy as you get sweaty. However, this is not much of a problem for me in New Zealand!
I use this mat for everything. Although I do like to use a Pilates mat (or roll up my yoga mat) for plough pose. It reduces pressure under my cervical vertebrae.
Valka Yoga Strap
This soft but strong strap is great for poses where you can’t reach your foot. Think of a hamstring stretch, stretching the hip flexor of your back leg in a pigeon pose or standing with one leg extended (which I can’t straighten without the strap).
Valka Yoga Block
The Valka Yoga Block has a smooth, firm, dense feel. I love positioning it under my hips and using it in a supported bridge pose or legs up-the-wall variation.
A block is also helpful for poses where the floor is too far away. Think half-moon pose or even a seated forward fold.
In forward folds, I often place my head on the block to really relax my shoulders.
Also, I have hypermobile elbows. Sometimes, a block helps to take the weight off my hands and keep a bend in my elbows, even in poses like a low lunge.
Valka Yoga Wheel
A wheel can provide massage along the spine in a similar way to a foam roller. However, its use goes beyond massage. It can increase flexibility and spinal extension along the entire length of the spine. I find the stretching can be quite intense, but it results in a great sense of relief afterwards. The Valka Yoga wheel is firm and sturdy with a wrapping of recycled rubber and cork for a soft glide across your mat and spine.
Finding a yoga class
I sometimes do my own thing. However, that is because I have done yoga classes for years and have attended yoga retreats.
If you are a beginner, an in-person class is a great way to start. Know that there are different styles of yoga and different teaching styles. So, it may take some time to find what suits you.
I love the YouTube channel Yoga with Kassandra for classes. Doing a guided class helps me to switch off and stick to an allotted time.
Kassandra has many classes to choose from, ranging from 5 – 90 minutes and beginners to advanced.
Some of the classes I love are:
- 30 min Vinyasa Flow For Flexibility – Slow Flow Yoga Stretch. I love this class to feel limber and relaxed.
- Stretch and strengthen if you sit for a lot of the day with this 30 min Hip Flexor Stretch Yoga – Vinyasa Yoga for Your Hips & Psoas.
- 30 min Yin Yoga for Beginners – Yin for Neck, Shoulder & Upper Back Tension Relief for days I’ve been on my computer a long time. This is a great class to untangle the knots in my shoulders.
- Get energised to start to the day with this 30 min Full Body Yoga – Intermediate Vinyasa Yoga.
There are too many ten and fifteen-minute yoga classes for me to mention – you’ll have to check them out for yourself. Or find my favourite yoga classes on my YouTube channel.
Share your favourite joyful movement practices
You may like to share online movement classes you enjoy in the comments below. I’m sure others would appreciate your recommendations!