A note from Kevin: This is a strong beginner friendly flow for those that are newer to yoga and would like to try a more challenging class. It’s good to have 2 yoga bricks and a blanket with you but a stack of books, some shoeboxes and a thick towel would do too. Enjoy!
What Did I Miss?
Plantie’s Summit Session “Rejuvenate Yourself Physically and Mentally with 5 Minutes of Daily Yoga” was hosted by Dublin-based yoga instructor Kevin Boyle. During his discussion, he dove into some beginner yoga poses and what you can gain from trying this form of exercise.
Boyle is a yoga instructor who also helps to train others to become certified teachers in the field. He has been practicing for eight years and was drawn to the entire lifestyle that comes along with it. Leaving behind a life of unhealthy habits, he discovered the power of yoga and decided to pursue this path of holistic health.
There are many mental and physical benefits that result from doing yoga, even if it is for a short time every day. Your body will become more flexible, you will develop stronger muscles and increase your mobility. On a mental level, it is known to reduce stress or anxiety. If you want to feel at peace, even five minutes of this combination of movement and breath can help you achieve that.
This is the type of workout you can do anywhere! All you need is a yoga mat or any soft floor covering. To aid you in some of the poses, Boyle suggests having yoga blocks or substitutes like shoe boxes and a blanket in case your limbs hurt from exercising on the floor.
Boyle explains the importance of breathing and some techniques to use to maximize its positive effects. How we breathe is in direct relation to how we feel, so we need to be sure that we are using the correct approach. Extend the time between your inhalation and exhalation to control your breath.
When you have completed your set of poses, sit cross-legged or on your knees. Close your eyes, relax your shoulders, and continue your deep breathing. Boyle suggests you take this time to assess how you feel. Taking this moment for self-reflection is a key aspect of yoga.
If you are not incredibly flexible, Boyle has advice on how you can still do this workout. If you focus on regulating your breathing, it will help relax your nervous system which opens up your body to make the poses less difficult.
In terms of length of time for completing a yoga session, he suggested one hour as an appropriate amount. If you want to prioritize cardio for your workout, then repeat the poses in multiple rounds. To focus on strength, hold each pose for a longer duration of time.
Why not give it a try and see if you can experience all the wonderful attributes of practicing yoga?
Questions & Answers
Q: I’m really inflexible from years of sitting at my computer. How do I ease into routine like this?
A: The most important thing, the most important chapter, the biggest challenge in yoga practice, is through your breathing practice. When your body feels like it’s in a position that it’s not ready for, naturally the breath will shorten to protect itself and things will start to lock up. So if you can regulate your breath first, and put your breath under control, which is called pranayama, breath control, then you can relax your nervous system. When your nervous system is relaxed, the body can open up a bit easier. So the first thing is breathing. The second thing is once you have a regular breathing practice and you’re doing your best not to hold your breath, then you do a beginners course. I wouldn’t recommend going to a mixed level class if you’re starting off, because I did that and you just get discouraged. Better to go to a course where there’s a path, and there’s a beginning and middle and end over a number of weeks, where you can learn how to slowly progress in a safe way.
Q: Where is a good place to go to look for beginners yoga online?
A: Well, funny you should say, because I am doing a beginners course. Starting in two weeks, every Sunday, Sunday morning, I believe we’re doing it, and it’s online. It’s four weeks. So do my course! *Laughs*
Q: Best yoga practice for upper body strength?
A: The most important pose for upper body strength at beginner level would be plank, that’s very common. Then a Chaturanga, which is the bottom of push up and then pushing back into a plank. So essentially practicing push ups. Then you can start progressing into straight arm scapular strength, doing things like handstands, but not many teachers teach hands downs and push ups, but I do! A lot of focus on yoga tends to be about flexibility, which is definitely good. But strength is equally important, if not more important. You’re never going to get injured being too strong, but you may get into being too flexible.
Q: Could you tell us a bit about what drove you to practice yoga? How did you discover it? And how long have you been practicing it for?
A: “What drove you to start practicing yoga?” Quite honestly, I’m 38; I started Yoga when I was 30, and I used to party a lot. I don’t know how much I can say here as this is Plantie’s platform, but I used to indulge in activities to expand the mind. And once I gave up alcohol and other stuff, I couldn’t stand the gym. I had known I wanted to start looking after myself, but I didn’t like the superficial nature I thought of the gym. “Know what your macros and how many kilos you put on”. “What? Do you have a six pack?” All that stuff bored me. Then when I started doing yoga, I started because I have really inflexible hamstrings and I used to play a lot of football. And I thought “Right, better do some stretching”. So I started doing yoga, I hated it. I thought it was a load of nonsense… I couldn’t get into it. But then the more I went, the more consistent I got, the more I noticed how comfortable I was in my body. I could sit on the floor cross legged, I could touch my toes. I could do loads of stuff that I never thought I’d be able to do. And that encouraged you to do more and more. So that’s what drove me to start. I discovered it because I was living in [Ask David/Jess to Help Clarify] in South Dublin, here, and I was walking past the yoga studio, and I had seen the word “yoga” and I thought, “Oh, that’s that thing that makes you bendy”. So it was literally that I had seen a sign on my street. Actually that yoga studio, which is called Yoga Hub, is where I now run the teacher training there, funnily enough, and they’re the biggest yoga studio in the country. So they started off just one little studio. But anyway, that’s how I discovered it. I’ve been practicing for eight years.
Q: I’ve heard of hot yoga, but I’m not sure what it is. What is it? And should I consider doing it if I liked this routine?
A: “What is hot yoga?” Hot yoga is when you’re practicing yoga in a room that’s heated. Typically it’s about 35 degrees Celsius. It’s very steamy, a bit like being in a steam room, moreso like a steam in the sauna because everyone gets sweaty in there. It started off with Bikram, and since the Bikram scandal or scandals, they’ve tried to not use the name Bikram and just call it hot yoga instead. I think it’s a bit of a gimmick personally. I think that when you’re heating up your body, it should be done from the inside out, not the outside in. And it gives you a false perception of how ready our bodies are for advanced postures. So that’s just my opinion on hot yoga. I don’t think you should consider doing it to be honest. I do a class here and there. But saying that, whatever gets on the mat is great, but it’s just not for me. I think it’s a little bit of a gimmick.
Q: What is your favorite part about teaching yoga?
A: The fact that it encourages holistic health. So it’s a way of life: spiritual practice, your diet, how you view your philosophies on the world, how you view yourself, and if you do all of that, then you might feel good in your body and you might look good, which we all have vain to some degree, we all want to look as best we can, and yoga really helps with that. I love teaching yoga for that reason. And what I love about teaching, and it being yoga, is that I like the interaction between people and I am obsessed with communication and improving my communication skills and trying to be the best teacher and trainer I can be. And a lot of Yogi’s a bunch of weirdos and I’m a bit weird, so it’s good to meet people that are stranger than you because then you don’t feel as weird.
Q: What is the main difference between yoga and pilates? And would you choose one or the other?
A: So I started as a pilates teacher and then I transitioned to yoga. Few differences; yoga: very old, thousands of years old. Pilates: it’s only about 100 years old. Yoga is focused on a spiritual practice, [and is] a way of life often, and that’s the big focus for yoga. Pilates is moreso, mechanical, biomechanics. How much can you control your body? Because pilates used to be called “Contrology”. Pilates is like a distilled version of yoga where they just focus on the core. Sometimes you go to a lot of yoga classes, and they do a lot of pilates too… I would start off with pilates and transition to yoga. Because really, if you can control your core, everything else is a lot safer.
Q: How long is the best amount of time to practice yoga for?
A: One hour’s good.
Q: Is this a good routine for “cool down”? I wanted to get into yoga to supplement my workout.
A: Yeah, same here. I’d say that’s good because the one we did was quite stretchy, and depending on what you’re doing in the gym, whenever you’re working out, yeah, that’s a good cooldown. Definitely. There are better ones, but it’s better than nothing.
Q: If I want to make this routine longer, should I repeat it?
A: Yeah… Great point. You can repeat it over and over again. If you want to work on more cardio endurance, or hold it if you want to practice more strength and stability, holding poses longer.
Q: If I experience some aches and pains during a pose should I stop or is it expected?
A: Pain? No. Ache? Yes. If something is uncomfortable, you experience change, which is what we want. We want the body to adapt to get stronger. If it’s painful, that’s a sign to say “ease off” or “stop”. So a dull discomfort is good.
Q: What other forms of exercise would you recommend to supplement yoga?
A: Sprinting, martial arts, anything that involves explosive movement, lifting, pulling things off the floor or putting yourself up, any kind of pulling motion, and something that involves interpretation so it could be dancing or again, martial arts where there isn’t a pattern. It’s not very linear. Something that involves a lot of improvisation.
Q: What are your thoughts on corrective stretching?
A: I think corrective exercises and stretches are great for developing and strengthening muscles as well as helping with flexibility. Very good for reducing the chances of injury and a lot more functional than static stretching.
Q: Is 1hr of daily yoga good or how often should you practice 1hr?
A: If you don’t practice at all, start with 1 hr a week. Once you have done that consistently for a few weeks, increase the frequency until you feel that it’s manageable for your body.
Connect with Kevin on Instagram or visit his website below:
Also, check out the Summary + QA of other Mentors from the Inaugural Virtual Wellness Summit – Powered By Plantie