Sponsored blog: my yoga practice and review of products and classes that support my practice.
Today yoga is nearly a daily joyful movement practice for me 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. Learn more in my blog, From obsessive exercise fanatic to proponent of joyful movement.
In the past, exercise was about compensating for or in anticipation for 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 it 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, which is made from sustainable cork and recycled rubber. I choose the mat with the charka design. It is so attractive I keep it unrolled on the floor a lot of the time.
Keeping it out during the day also means that it is there as 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, which are great additions to any yoga practice. Although, to start a mat will do.
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 and the mat you require for Pilates is quite different 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 that 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 and non-slip, with a softness. Surprisingly cork is a natural non-slip material that becomes less slippy as you get sweaty, which is not so much of a problem for me in New Zealand. I use this mat for everything, but I do like to go back to a Pilates mat (or roll up my yoga mat) for plough pose to reduce pressure under my cervical vertebrae.
Valka Yoga Strap
This soft but strong strap is great for poses where you can’t reach your foot, such as 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 useful for poses where the floor is too far away, such as half moon pose or even a seated forward fold, as I can place my head on it and 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 as 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 the 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:
- I love this class to feel limber and relaxed.
- A great class to stretch and strengthen if you sit for a lot of the day.
- On days I’ve been on my computer a long time, this is a great class to untangle the knots in my shoulders.
- If I want to energise myself for the start of the day but am short on time.
There are too many ten and fifteen minute yoga classes for me to mention – you’ll have to check them out for yourself 😊
Share your favourite joyful movement
You may like to share online movement classes you enjoy in the comments below. I’m sure others would appreciate your recommendations!