Fitness Update: September 2021

As some of you may know, fitness became an important part of my life in February of 2016. Truthfully, I started working out just to see if it was something I could stick with, and I ended up falling in love with weight lifting. My dad trained me for a couple years before I started working out on my own and learning new things. My best year of my fitness journey was definitely 2018. I decided to start eating a bit healthier and trying new exercises in the gym. I felt unstoppable that year. In 2019 I felt like I needed a bit of a change, and before I could really act on anything, 2020 came around, and we all know how that year turned out. Since I did not feel safe or comfortable at my gym (and I don’t think it was even an option to go), I decided to start doing yoga. I was starting to get used to at-home workouts, and for a while I was doing pretty well! I was continuing with my weight lifting and HIIT while incorporating yoga every single evening. Toward the end of 2020, I felt very unmotivated with working out. I kept doing yoga, but I was not lifting as frequently. 2021 rolled around and my feelings about working out have pretty much remained the same. I felt/feel like I’ve been struggling with a lack of motivation when it comes to weights and HIIT/cardio. And that takes us to today’s update…

I told myself that I would never stop working out; that there would never be a good enough excuse to just stop completely, and ultimately I still think this is true. Yes, breaks are super important because sometimes our bodies simply need to rest and relax for a while. I highly encourage anyone who is super active to take a couple weeks to a month off from time to time. This will not only give your body a chance to rest, but it will also allow you to get creative and find new forms of exercise or workouts to try when you get back to it! Plus, your body will not change very much by taking a little break (trust me, you’ll be fine). Weirdly enough, I feel like I am in that in-between stage of not being incredibly active, but also not taking a full rest. I still work out (mostly doing yoga), but I feel like there are definitely times when I am not putting in 100% of the effort. I’ve read a quote recently that said something along the lines of “it’s better to show up and give 50% than to not show up at all” and this stuck with me. At least I am trying, and I give myself credit for that.

To be honest, I really miss the feeling of loving a workout. I think I am kind of over at-home workouts at this point, and I am so ready to get back into the gym. I feel like I worked harder in that environment and I always felt strong, empowered, and like my best self any time I walked out of the gym. At this point in time, I do feel like I would be comfortable going back to the gym (I am fully vaccinated which makes me feel better about it), but my lifestyle does not exactly line up with my fitness goals at the moment. I’ve been and will be doing quite a bit of traveling, and it is difficult to find the time and motivation to do a complete workout while being so far from home. I need to get creative and find new ways to stay active while traveling, even if that means trying something completely different from what I am used to (ex: working out at a different time of day, completing short but intense workouts or long and less challenging ones, experimenting with new forms of exercise, etc.). I am actually looking forward to doing this, and my boyfriend has been incredibly supportive. We even plan to workout together when I go to visit him.

I think it all comes down to dedication and commitment, which are two things I’ve always been capable of. I refuse to let any of this bring me down or stop me from truly enjoying my workouts. Anyone out there who is passionate about fitness will probably understand my current struggle. I want to do anything and everything I can to feel motivated and excited about working out again. I’ve never stopped believing in myself, and I truly am proud of how far I’ve come. I have been on my fitness journey for a little over six years and I’ve made so much progress in that time. While there are ups and downs to any fitness journey, I know that there is no such thing as going backwards.

I haven’t been doing the absolute best when it comes to healthy eating, however this has always been the biggest challenge for me in relation to living a healthy life. I want to get back on track, but I think it is important to make small, attainable goals first. Baby steps are still steps after all. Even if it means incorporating a few healthy snacks into my days more often, I will do it. I’ve always felt that balance is important in every aspect of life. I don’t want to be too strict with food or fitness because I know that I deserve to enjoy the sweet things in life from time to time, as well as rest days.

I will also make it goal to start working out with weights slowly and doing it more often over time. For example, maybe instead of weight training for five or six days a week like I used to, I will start with two to three days a week, and as I start to feel better about it, I’ll go from there. Or, if I am traveling and do not have the necessary equipment, I can always do HIIT/cardio or yoga. I just want to keep my body healthy and moving. Living a sedentary life isn’t good for anyone, and after being active for many years, it just doesn’t feel right to me. I almost feel guilty when I sit down for too long!

I truly believe in making certain changes in your life in order to be your best self. For me, some of the things that make me feel good are writing/journaling, being outdoors, spending time with those I love, and of course working out. There is nothing like powering through a challenging workout and feeling resilient, powerful, and strong. Even when my legs were shaking from all of the glute and quad work and I was dripping in sweat after cardio, I loved knowing that I completed a workout. Another goal of mine will be to get back into the gym as soon as possible so I can feel that once again. I also want to really do something different when I do go back. Doing the same exercises over and over again for too long gets boring and repetitive for me.

I really wanted to share this fitness update to let you know that it is ok to feel burnt out, or like you don’t want to work out for a while. It’s ok to need a break or to take some time to come up with new goals for yourself. As you grow and learn, it would be silly to continue doing the exact same thing anyway! I am so ready to enjoy my workouts again! I will change my mindset. I will push myself. And I will be stronger than ever before. I will speak it, pray it, and manifest it into existence. Most of all, I will believe in myself. I highly encourage that you do the same. We’ve got this!

Thank you for reading!

Yoga 101: Warrior Poses

I am very excited to share the second post in my Yoga 101 series! I created this series to help beginner yogis learn all of the best yoga poses (though these posts can be helpful to any yogi at any level)! I encourage you to check out my Instagram @sacchere14 to see my Yoga 101 posts and highlights for videos of each pose! As I explain how to get into the poses, it may seem confusing, but I will try to explain things in the easiest way possible. If you haven’t read my first post, I would recommend checking it out before you read this one (though it’s not necessary). It will be linked here!

Today I will be discussing the warrior poses. These are such strong and empowering poses that are essential to include in your practice! I have been doing yoga daily for over a year now, so I do feel that I have the experience needed to help others, however I am not a professional or expert. I appreciate any feedback, tips, or advice (I am still perfecting many poses myself).

These poses are typically done in a vinyasa flow, however transitioning from pose to pose can be difficult at first. Try your best!

Warrior I

Let’s begin with warrior I. To get into this pose, you want to start off with your feet hip width apart in a forward fold. You’re going to step your right leg back (you can start with whichever leg you’d like), making sure that your left knee stays stacked above the left ankle (this helps to avoid injuries). Your right foot should be at an angle, facing slightly outward. For every single pose, I encourage you to engage your core by holding in your stomach (but don’t forget to breathe) and to lengthen your back. You do not want your back to be arched or hunched. The biggest challenge with this pose is that you want your hips to be squared, facing the front of your mat. It may be tricky as a beginner, but with practice you can get there. Try to avoid turning your hips when you bring the leg behind you. It’s important that you feel strong in each and every pose, and this one requires some balance, so make sure that you feel grounded once your feet are in place. Once you’re here, you can keep your palms together at your heart, straight out in front of you with your palms facing inward, or if you’re feeling strong, you can lift your arms up over your head with your palms facing inward. If you decide to lift your arms, check to make sure that you aren’t lifting your shoulders as well; keep them down. Remember to repeat the process on the other side of your body.

Warrior II

Now we can move on to warrior II. You can start off the same way you did for warrior I, or you can transition from warrior I to warrior II. Any time you transition, try to do it as gracefully as possible. Again, this won’t always be easy at first. You can practice by doing this pose on its own, rather than transitioning into it. To transition, you now want to face your right foot completely to the right rather than at an angle. The best way to know that your alignment is correct is by seeing if the heel of your front foot aligns with the arch of your back foot. If it is in a straight line, then you are doing it right. Your core will now be facing the right. You’re going to keep your head facing the front of your mat, and you will lift your arms; one straight in front of you, and the other straight behind you. Both of your palms will be facing downward. Make sure you aren’t lifting your shoulders in this pose. Always check to see that your front knee is right above the ankle. Remember to hold in your core and lengthen your back. Warrior II is a hip opening pose, however only the hip in front of you is opening, which should be a reminder to do the same exact thing on the other side!

Warrior III

To transition out of warrior II and into warrior III you’re going to now move into crescent pose. So, your back foot will now turn toward the front of the mat, and your toes will curl under. Your entire core and your hips will also shift to face the front of your mat. Your arms can lift up into the air once you’re here. Again, check to make sure your front knee is directly over the front ankle. Your back leg will be straight, though it’s important to never overextend your legs; always keep a slight bend in the knees (even when the legs are technically supposed to be straight). This will help to avoid any knee injuries. Now, you will bring your palms together right at your heart and slowly and carefully lift your back leg up off the ground. If you are a beginner, you can either step to the front of the mat or you can try to bypass the floor with that foot. You will slowly lean your body forward while your leg is straight out behind you. Your hips are going to want to open up, but try to avoid this. They should be squared and facing the front of the mat. Your back should be flat (not hunched or arched). If you are feeling strong, you can lift your arms and bring them out to the sides. This will help with your balance. Your gaze should be toward the ground, and you can try to focus on something that isn’t moving to help keep your balance. Although I have been practicing for over a year, there are still plenty of times when I fall out of this pose. Don’t give up! You can always come back and try it again.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, reading these explanations may be a bit confusing and hard to follow, so check out my videos on my Instagram in my Yoga 101 highlight. Thank you so much for reading! Have a wonderful day!

What poses would you like to see next?

Yoga 101: Beginner Poses

Hey everyone! I hope you are all having a wonderful day! For those of you who do not know, I have been on my fitness journey for over 5 years now, and I have been practicing yoga for 15-30 minutes every day for over a year! I truly believe in the power of moving your body and taking care of your overall wellbeing. What I love about exercise is that it is my time to simply focus on doing something for myself. It is a time for me to get focused and strong, and I always feel so empowered after a workout. Not only does my body feel strong afterward, but so does my mind. When it comes to yoga, I love the balance of challenge and relaxation. I am able to work hard (during more difficult flows) while focusing on my mind at the same time. I can let go of any stress or worry, and focus on my health, and I love the way working out makes me feel.

Due to the benefits that I have seen in my own wellbeing, I always recommend yoga to everyone! I feel that there is no excuse to not do at least 5-10 minutes of yoga every day! I understand that everyone has different lifestyles and schedules, but yoga has so many benefits, and we all deserve to feel our best. Today, I am beginning a new series on my blog: Yoga 101. I will be sharing a few different yoga poses in each one, and I will give tips, advice, and discuss how to properly do said poses. Please keep in mind that I am not an expert or a professional yogi, but after practicing daily for over a year, I feel that I have learned so much from the different instructors that I have watched (though I always appreciate feedback and advice for myself as well). I am still perfecting some yoga poses myself, so keep that in mind throughout this series.

Today we will be going over three of the classic yoga poses that every beginner should know. You may look at these and think to yourself “That’s so easy, I already know how to do that”, however there are little tips and techniques that can help you, and I would like to share those today.

Downward facing dog

This is a classic yoga pose and you may have seen other people do this frequently. This is something that I like to do during all of my practices. There is something about being in poses where my head is upside down that helps to relieve my headaches! This pose is great for stretching out the hamstrings too!

When getting into this pose, you can start off on your hands and knees. You want your hands to be out in front of you and facing slightly outward. Your feet should be hips distance apart and facing forward. Try to keep your pelvis tilted back so that your back is straight. You should keep your gaze between your thighs as well. Overall, you should like a triangle from the side. It won’t be possible to have your heels touching the mat at first; it’s going to take a lot of practice (this is something I am still working on). To help with this, you can pedal your feet by bending one knee and lengthening the other, causing a deeper hamstring stretch as your heels press toward the mat. This pose is going to feel challenging for a beginner, however over time it can become a resting pose. It is also a great pose to use during different flows!

Chair pose

This pose is admittedly one of my least favorites, however it is still important to do. By doing this posture, you are working your full body, but you will definitely feel it mostly in your legs!

For this pose, you want to start off standing with your feet a few inches apart (though you can have them right next to each other. This may make it a big more challenging). Then you will simply bend your knees and get low in the position (for any beginners out there, you don’t have to get extremely low). You will then lift your arms straight into the air. Make sure that you are putting most of the weight in your heels. You can test to see if you’re doing this right by lifting your toes off the mat, then placing them down again. Be sure to drop your shoulders rather than hunching them up to your ears. While this pose may be difficult, you want to try to stay as relaxed as you can. This position definitely takes some getting used to, so be kind to your body and modify where you need to. Like all yoga poses, you don’t want your gut to sag, so you should hold in your core while maintaining your breathing (in through the nose and out through the mouth). This took me a long time to learn, but by holding in your core, you’re going to feel your body working more. Remember this throughout your practice.

Plank position

This is a pose that many people have done before, however not everyone knows how to get into it properly. You’re going to start on your knees, placing your hands out in front of you facing forward. Your toes will be curled under and you will slowly straighten one leg, then the other. Again, you want to hold in your core and breathe. Make sure that your bottom is not too far in the air or too low to the ground; your body should be lined up with your spine. Be sure that your wrists are right under your shoulders (lining things up is very important to prevent any injuries). Keep your head down with your eyes on the mat below you.

There are modifications for this pose for those of you who find planking to be a bit too challenging. You still start off the same way, on your hands and knees, however you’re going to bring your knees back a few inches so they are not directly under your hips anymore. This is still a challenging position, but it is better for those who need to modify and take it easy. With time, patience, and practice, you will be able to do some of the more challenging poses, so keep going!

I am really excited for this new series on my blog, and I have so much more to share with you! Yoga has been a daily practice for myself as well as a couple of my family members who join me every evening. I highly encourage anyone out there to spend some time trying it out! You do not need to be athletic or flexible to do yoga; that comes with practice. You have to start in order to get to that point, and it doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 50, anyone can do yoga. Believe in yourself and prioritize yourself. Thank you so much for reading! If there are any yoga poses that you would like me to discuss in this series, please leave me a comment below! Until next time!

(If you would like to see videos of me getting into each of these poses, you can check out my Instagram, @sacchere14.)

My 5 Year Fitness Anniversary

Today makes exactly 5 years since I first began weight training! I truly can’t believe that so much time has passed, when it feels like just yesterday my dad took me to the gym for the first time and taught me how to lift weights. I was 16 years old, and now I am 21. Last year, I titled my anniversary post, “4 Years of Weight Training”, however in my 5th year of my fitness journey, I began exploring other physical activities that have become a part of my daily/weekly routine. While my 5th year was a bit unconventional (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), I still wanted to share what changes occurred, how I felt, and any progress I noticed throughout the year. If you have read any of my fitness posts over this past year, you may already know some of the things I will be discussing today, so I’ll try to keep it (somewhat) brief.

The last time I worked out in a gym was in early March of 2020. Since then, at-home workouts became the new norm, which was difficult to adjust to at first. Once I got into a routine that worked for me, I really enjoyed my workouts. I would say that I lifted weights around 3-4 times a week and did HIIT 3 times a week. I was on top of my workouts for the most part, however, toward the middle of the year, I started to become a bit bored with my usual workout routines. This has been a common pattern for me over the past 5 years. After doing the same thing for so long, I easily get bored, thus, leading to a lack of motivation and less excitement when it comes to fitness. So, I did my best to change things up. While I never quit weight lifting, I did enjoy experimenting with new forms of exercise.

In April of 2020, I began doing yoga daily. A couple of my family members have been doing it with me, which makes it even more enjoyable. I made it a goal of mine to never skip a day, and I am proud to say that I’ve stuck to it. Even when I went away to the beach and to the mountains with my family, I still did yoga every evening. Even on days when I wasn’t feeling too great, or I had a lot on my plate, I still completed my practice. I like to do 10-30 minutes of yoga a day. I wasn’t sure that I would ever enjoy yoga, but honestly, it is so beneficial for so many different reasons. I wrote an entire blog post on the benefits of yoga (click here to read). Not only does it give me a chance to unwind and relax, but it is also a great way to work out and challenge myself. Despite what many people think, yoga is not always relaxing and easy. You can definitely work up a sweat and gain strength in your entire body. Yoga is not just about the core. I have noticed incredible improvements with my balance, my strength, and even my mindset. I also noticed that I was toning up a lot! I reached my goal of finding a new form of exercise, while still sticking with weight training, and I am very proud of this. I am also very interested in boxing! Although I’ve never really tried it, I think I would really enjoy it! Maybe sometime soon, when things are safer, I can try to find a place to box! I know this is something my dad would enjoy too, so maybe we can do it together!

Also, since January of 2019, I have been going on monthly hikes with my uncle (and sometimes my brother). I made it a goal of mine to go hiking at least once a month, and this is something I’ve really been enjoying! Some hikes are more moderate whereas others are more intense. It is so nice to get outside and exercise, especially since COVID hit. It is peaceful, and we are often rewarded with gorgeous views during or at the end of our hikes!

I also wanted to briefly discuss food, because this is an important part of staying healthy as well. As some of you may know, eating healthy has always been the most difficult part of living a healthy life for me, and I think many people can relate to this. In 2018, I did really well by changing up my diet and drinking more water. In 2019, I struggled with my motivation a bit more, and I wasn’t as focused on eating healthy. At this point, I am honestly still struggling with food, but I am trying to stick to healthy foods that I enjoy, while limiting some of the sweets that I tend to enjoy just a bit too often. It’s going to take some time and patience, as well as some serious dedication, but I am not someone who gives up easily on things that I want, so I am going to continue pushing myself. While I have never struggled with an eating disorder or an unhealthy relationship with food, I still think it is important to remind people that food is not the enemy. You have the control, and you can stop from giving in to temptations. Life is all about balance, and food should be enjoyed. So, it is completely ok to indulge in some of the foods that aren’t necessarily healthy once in a while. Just remember to limit the amount of these foods. While it can be very challenging to change up your diet, it is such an incredible feeling once you start to put healthy and nutritious foods into your body, and this is something I need to remind myself of more often. The way that working out and eating healthy makes me feel is the most powerful form of motivation. We all want to feel our best, and when I am taking care of my overall health, that is when I do.

My current workout split is not very strict. I’ve been listening to my body and what it needs a lot. Right now, I am weight training and doing HIIT 3 times a week, I am doing yoga daily, and some days, I will go for walks around my neighborhood. I am eager to get back in the gym, but for now, I am thankful that I have some of the equipment that I need at home. I have been looking to the internet and social media to get inspiration and motivation (which I recommend), and this has also helped me find new workouts to do to keep things exciting.

I always like to thank my dad for introducing me to the world of fitness. I was never very athletic and I felt that working out just wasn’t for me. Things changed when he taught me how to lift weights because I found not only a new hobby, but a new passion. I made goals to strive for, and I pushed myself during every single workout. Without his guidance and support, I probably would not have fallen in love with fitness, at least not at that time. I am very grateful for him and for our bond. Fitness brought us even closer, and even though I stopped going to the gym with him after my first couple years, I still think of all that he’s taught me, and how proud he is of me. I am also so glad that I recognized the importance of taking care of myself at such a young age. While there is no age limit to starting your fitness journey, it’s always amazing to get a head start.

I am very proud of how far I’ve come in these past 5 years. While I did not make a ton of progress this year, I am looking forward to working harder and disciplining myself even more for my 6th year (and hopefully getting back in the gym soon too). I wanted to remind anyone reading that your health matters. You have the power do incredible things, and taking care of your body should always be a top priority. Even when it is difficult and all motivation seems lost, keep going. Trust me, you’re going to be so glad you did! At this point, I can’t even imagine giving up, so I never will. I am going to continue on my fitness journey, and work toward reaching new goals! I always say that people should find some form of exercise that works for them; something they enjoy. For me, that happens to be weight lifting and yoga, but everyone is different. Find what works for you, and stick with it. In time, you will reap the benefits which are so incredibly rewarding! Not only will your body start to change, but your mindset will too!

Thank you so much for reading! I plan to continue sharing updates, tips, and changes throughout my 6th year, so I hope that you will follow along and join me! Check out my Instagram, @sacchere14 to see a video I put together using clips/photos from the past five years!

Until next time!

Tips for Beginner Yogis

I have been on my fitness journey for almost 5 years now, and yoga is something I began to incorporate in April of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was getting really bad at that point, and we were all stuck in our homes. One day, a family member introduced us to a program that had a variety of fitness videos to try, including yoga. After seeing this, I thought that maybe I could give it a try. I mentioned it to a couple of my family members, and we have been doing 20-30 minutes of yoga every day since. We have not skipped any days whatsoever, and that is something I am very proud of!

Yoga is both challenging and relaxing, and I have seen and felt the many benefits from very early on. I think it is important to let people know that you do not have to be flexible or into fitness to get started! Literally anyone can do yoga because there are ways to modify almost every pose, and this allows you to grow throughout your practice. We all start somewhere, so please don’t let the idea of being a “beginner” scare you off or make you nervous. I never thought that I would be interested in doing yoga because I have always enjoyed lifting weights, but I have come to love it! I definitely recommend experimenting with different forms of exercise until you find what works for best for you! If you want to get started with yoga, remember to start slow!

I have realized that there are certain things that yoga instructors in the program I use have been encouraging me to do, but I never really understood how. After months of practicing, I’ve noticed significant changes and improvements, which has been very exciting and motivating! I have gotten much better at balancing and activating my core, and I am starting to do a few more advanced poses!

Please keep in mind that I am in no way a professional or qualified to teach yoga, however I feel that due to my own experience with the practice, I can share some valuable tips with those of you who are just getting started! It took me some time to learn these things, and I am continuing to learn as I go! I am sharing this in hopes that you can start practicing these skills even sooner!

Here are my tips for beginner yogis:

  • Go into your practice with an open mind

Sometimes, when you are trying something new, you may have preconceived ideas on what you will be doing. When it comes to yoga, you may think it’s simple and easy, or that it doesn’t do anything for the body. It’s also common to simply say “I can’t do that” or “I’m not good at this” when starting out. You have to remember that in order to see progress and gain strength, you need to get started. It’s ok to lose your balance, to fall over, and to get frustrated when you can’t do a certain pose, but as long as you keep at it and practice frequently, you will get better! It’s important to have an open mind and to think positively all the time, but especially when trying something new or challenging. You are most likely starting yoga to be active, to get healthy, or to try something different, so honor that and honor yourself by getting out of your comfort zone!

  • Get centered and let negative thoughts go

When you go into your practice, you may not always feel your best. Maybe you’re stressed about work or your feeling down about a personal situation. Whatever it may be, when you get to your mat, it’s time to let it all go! It can be really difficult to let these thoughts go and to simple be, but you have to try. Some days, I am just a bit more distracted or I have a lot on my plate, and that’s ok. But you have to remember that you’re allowed to take a few moments out of your day to focus on you and your overall well-being. Working out can really give you that time, and you will also reap the benefits as time goes on! Try to think about your breathing and how you’re moving your body rather than bringing all of that negative energy to the mat. Working out has always been a time for me to focus on my mental and emotional health, it’s definitely not just about the physical.

  • Focus on the breath

This may seem like such a simple tip because of course, we’re always breathing, and you would think that you would be breathing even better during a workout. This can actually be a challenge. When I first started weight lifting, it took me a bit of time to realize that breathing will actually help you perform better, and you will be able to do more reps. The same is true for yoga. Keep in mind that whenever you are exerting the most energy, that is when you should breathe out. For example, if you are in three legged dog, and you want to bring your knee in toward your nose, you breathe in as you lift your leg up, and breathe out as you pull that leg in. Really think about your breathing when working out, and you truly will notice a big difference! Never hold your breath, even when your practice is getting difficult.

  • It’s all about lifting and lengthening

When practicing yoga, one should never focus too much on height, but rather focus on lengthening and lifting your body. For example, if you are in warrior three, you should be lifting your chest and leg, however you don’t need to be doing a standing split. The height of your leg really isn’t as important as how you’re lengthening your body. Another example would be when you are in sphinx pose or upward facing dog. It’s not about bending back as far as possible; it’s about lifting up out of your lower back and feeling a stretch across your chest. While it is impressive to see advanced yogis lifting their legs super high in the air, it isn’t necessary in order to feel the benefits and to gain strength. Length over height, always!

  • Relax the shoulders and don’t collapse

This next tip goes along with the previous one. It can be very easy to lose focus and forget the point of certain poses. There are many poses which require you to use some upper body strength. For example, when you are in a side plank, you have to remember to lift up out of that bottom shoulder. The same is true for triangle pose. It all goes back to lengthening the body! You want to rise up and reach for the sky, rather than collapsing back down into your shoulder (this could cause injuries or discomfort over time).

  • Keep a slight bend in the knees

There are going to be quite a few poses where you are meant to straighten your legs such as downward facing dog, triangle pose, and any kind of forward folds. When your instructor tells you to straighten your legs, please remember not to lock out your knees; keep a slight bend in them instead. You should do this to avoid any injuries or discomfort. It is not going to hinder your growth at all, and it’s always better to be safe and to listen to your body. During any form of exercise, if you feel any discomfort or pain, you should stop and modify or skip that pose/exercise for a little bit.

  • Square off the hips

Again, it is so easy to forget what you are doing, and your body may naturally want to move a certain way when doing some poses. For the most part, when you are in three legged dog, any of the warrior poses, or any twisting pose, it is important to square off your hips. This means that whatever way your core is facing, that’s where your hips should face too. When facing your left in warrior two, you only want your head to move and look over the hand in front of you, however your hips should stay in place, facing the left. When you are lifting a leg in downward facing dog, your hip may want to open up, but you have to do your best to keep it from doing so (there will be times when your instructor may want you to open up your hip in this pose, but unless they say so, keep the hips still). When twisting, make sure that you twist from your core; your hips shouldn’t be twisting with you.

  • Activate your core

It took me a long time to figure out exactly how to do this. This is something that you will need to practice, and it can take time, but you’ll know you’re doing it right because you’ll be able to really feel your core working. Yoga truly is a full body workout, however the core is a very important part of it. Throughout each and every practice, you should be holding in your stomach (while breathing properly). You don’t want your gut to sag as you are doing these movements and getting into different poses. If you suck in your stomach and at the same time, continue to breathe properly, you will feel your core working the entire time.

  • Challenge yourself

I understand that some days, you just aren’t going to feel very motivated, and you may want more of a relaxing practice. These days are needed, so of course, I encourage you to have a couple of these practices throughout your week. However, you shouldn’t get too comfortable relaxing, because if you want to improve and see results, you’re going to have to put in the work. You can do this by staying in poses longer than you normally would, or as you progress, you can try to do more advanced versions of different poses. For example, instead of planking on your knees, you should eventually try to lift them up, or try to get off of your tippy toes and lift up a foot or leg when balancing. You won’t get better at something by staying comfortable.

And lastly…

  • Enjoy the practice

Yoga is meant to be enjoyed. Whether your practice was all about the core or it was a relax day, by the end of your workout, you should feel strong, confident, and even relaxed in the end. Make sure to throw in some resting poses in the middle and at the end of your session such as child’s pose or savasana. This will give your body a chance to cool down, and you can take a moment to appreciate all of the work that you just did. Use this time to better yourself, and trust me, your body will thank you!

I hope that my beginner yogis out there found this blog post helpful! Like I said, I never thought I would enjoy doing yoga, but I think it was because I didn’t understand it, and I just didn’t see it as a real workout. Well, sometimes you can surprise yourself, and all it takes it one step outside of your comfort zone! Thank you so much for reading!

The Benefits of Yoga and Mindfulness

Hey everyone! If you have been keeping up with the “Fitness and Self-Care” section of my blog, you may remember my post about doing yoga every day for one month. Well, I have continued to incorporate yoga into each and every day since April! Earlier this year, I told myself that I would try to find a new form of exercise, and I am happy to say that I did just that!

As many of you may be aware, I have been weight training for almost five years now. That journey has taken a bit of a turn this year due to COVID-19. My gym closed down sometime in March, and it opened back up in September. I have not gone back because I do not think that I would feel safe to do so just yet. Plus, a gym is probably one of the worst places to be during a pandemic, so I have chosen to continue with my at-home workouts for now. This year, I would say that yoga has become my go-to form of exercise. Though I have continued with weight training, I have not been doing this as frequently.

Initially, I was not incredibly interested in trying out yoga. I remember doing it once quite a few years back but I never stuck with it because I felt that it was “boring”. Things have definitely changed since then. I have been using a program that includes a variety of workout videos, ranging from strength training to yoga. Although I haven’t tried any of the other workouts besides yoga, I plan to do so one day.

I originally thought that only flexible people could do yoga. I did not think that yoga would be considered a workout either. I thought it would be very relaxing 100% of the time (I was definitely wrong about that). I was also not aware of the many benefits that yoga can have on the mind, body, and soul.

I believe that when some people think of yoga, they think of a very hippie-ish way of living, and they even write it off as silly. I think that these people have most likely never tried yoga. In reality, yoga can be intense, challenging, and rewarding in more ways than one. Not only can yoga change your body and appearance, but it can change your entire mindset too.

Some of the physical benefits of yoga include: increased flexibility, weight reduction, improved respiration, and increased muscle strength. Some of the emotional/mental benefits include: an increase in body awareness, relieves stress, sharpens attention, and calms the nervous system. For me, working out has always been an escape from everyday stress. As someone who tends to be very anxious and a bit of a worrier at times, working out has always allowed me to simply focus on me and my body, and it has given me a goal to work toward. Time for yourself is so important, and if using that time involves staying healthy and active, that is even better!

I also wanted to discuss the benefits that I have noticed personally from doing yoga for six months. First, I realized that yoga was helping me to relax and de-stress. This was exactly what I needed, and still do! I tend to hold tension in my shoulders and in my jaw, but now, I can more easily recognize when I am doing this. I can relax my jaw and drop my shoulders and simply focus on my breathing. Also, I am much more aware of my posture. I feel that I’ve always had pretty good posture, but yoga has made this even better. When I am sitting down to do my schoolwork or if I find that I am tilting my neck downward a lot, I try to use books or something tall for my laptop to sit on so that it is more eye-level, and I am not hunching over.

I feel that I am a much more relaxed person. I do not get stressed as easily anymore, and I am much more aware of negative thoughts. If I notice that I am starting to worry or stress about something, I can recognize this and turn those thoughts off rather than letting them take over. I feel that I am much more aware of my thought processes, and I know what is going to help me and what is going to hurt me. I have been practicing mindfulness a lot lately, and it has changed everything. I feel that I have much more control over my mind, and I can lead a happier and more positive life because of it.

I have also noticed that my body is much more toned. Yoga is a full-body workout, and I was not really aware of this in the beginning. It is not just about working your core, it is about working your entire body. I guess I didn’t think I would see changes to my body unless I was using weights or doing cardio, but yoga has changed my appearance. When weight training was what my workouts truly consisted of, my body did look different. I had more muscle and although I did tone up from weight training (and cardio), I feel that I have noticed it a bit more with yoga. Granted, my appetite is different when I am weight training 5-6 times a week vs doing yoga every day. The human body is truly incredible, and it has the ability to change very often throughout life. The choices we make matter, and the food that we put into our bodies as well as the way that we stay active matters. All of it can affect the way that we look and feel.  Working out was never really about looking good for me (that is a bonus that comes from it). The way that it makes me feel is why I truly continue to do it.

Lastly, I feel that I have gained flexibility. I have surprised myself many times during my yoga practices. In poses such as downward dog, I can straighten my legs quite a bit, and when I do wide legged folds, or just folding in general, I can get pretty low and deep. When I first started yoga, I was not the most flexible, so it has been exciting to notice my growth! In the beginning, I struggled to keep my balance as well. Eagle pose and warrior III were especially frustrating. Now, I can stay in these poses a little bit longer without toppling over (of course, this does still happen some days). I am able to keep up with practices that are faster paced, and for the most part, I do not have to modify the poses. I never really took much time to stretch before or after workouts and even in general, so this is something I have been doing a lot more of now. Yoga has allowed me to focus on stretching, flexibility, strength, and endurance.

It is so crazy to think that I began doing yoga six months ago, and I have never skipped one day. I have always been very determined, but I honestly didn’t think that I would enjoy yoga. Once something becomes a part of your daily routine, it is so much easier to do. Even on the days when I am very busy or I simply don’t feel like doing it, I get it done because I know how it will benefit me overall.

I really hope you enjoyed today’s post! What are your thoughts on yoga or mindfulness? Have you ever tried yoga before? I would love to know! Thank you so much for reading!

I Did Yoga Everyday for 1 Month, Here is What I’ve Learned

Earlier this year, I said that I wanted to try new forms of exercise, and yoga just so happened to be my choice. Now, I never plan on giving up weight training (it is and always will be my favorite form of exercise), however I think it is good to try new things. I was not sure if I would like yoga, or even stick with it when I started it a month ago.

A family member recommended this program to me and it includes a variety of workout videos. Out of everything I saw, yoga was, for some reason, the one I chose to try. I think this is partially because my workouts are often a bit more fast paced and not really relaxing or slow, so I was looking for something different.

At first, I honestly thought that only flexible people could do yoga. I would not exactly use this word to describe myself. I don’t think that I am necessarily stiff though either. Somewhere in the middle… I guess? Anyway, I had my doubts when it came to yoga. I can honestly say that I do like it, but I’ll get to that later.

Some of the many benefits of yoga include: increased flexibility, weight reduction, improved respiration, and increased muscle strength. The benefits however, are not just physical. I feel that this could be said for many forms of exercise. When I work out, it gets me out of my head and it allows me to simply focus on me and my body, which I love. Some of the mental/emotional benefits include: an increase in body awareness, relieves stress, sharpens attention, and calms the nervous system.

A couple of my family members decided to join me for yoga every single day for the month. We would roll out our mats in the living room, and we would set up the program on the TV. The program we chose is a 3 week program; each week focusing on something a bit different. That first week, we focused on foundation. The point of this first week was simply to build a strong foundation for the weeks to come. I was introduced to a ton of yoga poses (most of which I was unfamiliar with). I found that I really liked downward dog, low crescent (and crescent twist), wide legged fold, and reverse tabletop. Some of my least favorites? Chair pose and chaturanga. I have a love/hate relationship with the warrior poses and goddess pose. I also really liked the relaxing poses such as child’s pose and shavasana.

I quickly realized that yoga is not 100% relaxing, at least not for a newbie. It really is a workout, and before I started doing it, I honestly didn’t feel that it was. I found myself out a breath at some points, and I did modify a couple poses at times. The timing of each practice varied, but most of them were around 30 minutes long. I really began to look forward to our evening yoga because it gave me some time to stretch and relax (both of which, I don’t think I do enough).

For week 2, we were focusing on expansion. Something that I learned from yoga is that expansion and length are incredibly important, not necessarily height. Obviously, slouching and hunching is not going to help you in yoga, or in the long run! In poses where we had to reach up or away from our bodies, I would lift my spine and stretch. I became much more aware of my posture and where I was holding tension in my body. I tend to clench my jaw without realizing, and it has led to soreness in my jaw and the use of a mouth guard every single night. I really tried to focus on where I was sending my energy.

It was in this week when we began incorporating some balancing poses. I found that balancing is challenging for me at times, and I’m not going to lie, I got frustrated when I would just topple over again and again. One thing that has always helped me is focusing on an inanimate object. I actually learned this when I used to take dance classes. If you are about to spin or balance, stare at something that is not moving. This tip was very helpful to me in yoga. I did realize that one leg was always easier to balance on than the other (my stronger leg seems to be my right, which makes sense since this is my dominant side).

In week 3, we focused on progression. As the weeks went on, the poses definitely got more challenging. We would hold the poses for a bit longer as well. Throughout the weeks, we would focus on something specific each day. For example, some days we would focus on core, other days we would focus on stretch, and then other days we would do a flow. I really enjoyed flow days because it was pretty much constant movement, which I prefer over sitting still for too long. It was also a bit more challenging.

Once the 3 week program was over, we decided to do it again to see if it would get any easier for us. As I am posting this on my blog, we are currently in week 2 again! I wanted to do this daily for a month before writing about the experience and sharing it with you.

One thing I noticed is that I really struggled to relax. I just recently finished up my junior year of college, so it’s not like I have a ton of work to do. Plus, we’re all quarantining at home. Normal stressors in my everyday life are not exactly present right now, so I don’t know why I found it so hard to just be. I guess what may have hindered my relaxation was the fact that the instructors would talk pretty much the whole time. I was also learning all of the poses as we went, so I had to look up at the screen multiple times. I think that once I know what I am doing, I won’t necessarily need an instructor and I won’t have the distraction.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with yoga. I didn’t really think that I would enjoy it and I even thought that the practice was silly at times. I’ve learned that it isn’t just about stretching or contorting your body in strange ways. It is about letting go of stress, relaxing, and simply focusing on your body. While I do feel a bit more flexible and more aware of my body, I think I still need more time to practice.

I plan on continuing to learn yoga, though I may not do it every single day. I am hoping to learn to relax a bit more, and gain more flexibility. I am glad that I decided to get out of my comfort zone and try something new because it has introduced me to a new form of exercise that I actually enjoy. I wouldn’t say I like it more than weight training though 😉

I always recommend trying new things, especially when it comes to exercise. Sometimes, doing the same thing over and over can get boring and repetitive. I like to change up my workouts from time to time to avoid this. I am excited to say that I can add another form of exercise to my list. I enjoy weight training, HIIT, dancing, hiking, going on walks, and now, yoga.

Go and try something new today, and as always, thank you so much for reading! (And check out my Instagram, @sacchere14 to watch me flow!)