Which Type of Yoga is Best?

Short answer…

A daily practice that contains a variety to provide balance to your whole self.

Longer answer…

I like to answer questions using science and anatomy. The following is detailing out the importance of the 3 main points in the above statement.

  1. Daily
  2. Variety
  3. Balance

Daily

Saving for a rainy day = Take an image of a jar or piggy bank. Imagine that each time you do your yoga practice, you add some coins into this container. You end up with small sum in your rainy day jar.

Rainy day occurs = When you do have those rainy days, or moments of negativity and high stress, you have a practice that is already part of your routine to provide you comfort. You do not have to start something new during a difficult time. You can cash in with a proven method to provide comfort and peace.

Duration of time = There is a wide range of how much time you take for your daily practice. It will change as your life changes, even seasonally. I would do a variety and see what makes you feel the most balanced. In a day, my practice can range from a silent 10 minute meditation to a 75 minute flow practice; and everything in between. Much of this is having the awareness to step back and evaluate your life and the missing pieces to encourage balance.

Daily dose of self-care really does add up, even in small increments.


Variety

In regards to yoga, there are MANY types. From a more active faster Vinyasa flow which is very stimulating to a restful Restorative practice. The range is wide! That is one of the benefits of yoga, but also sometimes the confusing part.

Answering the question, which one should I do? My answer would be to not pick just one. Select two yoga styles. Making sure they are compliments to each other (note I am using the term compliments instead of opposites for a reason). Each type of yoga has a specific intention or purpose.

Selecting two types of yoga provides a more balanced practice. You get the full benefits for physical, mental and emotional health.

You may react by saying…”But I only like flow classes and yin yoga is too quiet for me.” There is a science reason to that. The Law of Attraction or “Like attracts like”. We tend to be drawn to things that are the same tone of our daily experiences. Anything else is uncomfortable, since it is outside our norm.

Before becoming a yoga teacher = I used to work in a high stress corporate technology environment. I was drawn to do Vinyasa flow classes in a heated room (up to 105 degrees). Like attracted like. High stressed life led to me selecting a more stimulating type of yoga. I was adding coal to the fire. No wonder I was easily aggravated, did not sleep well and suffered from stress-induced IBS. In reality, I would have benefited from adding in a couple yin or restorative poses each week. But that would have assumed I had enough self-awareness to step back and make a conscious evaluation of my life. At that time, I was not very mindful and honestly, did not know any better.

Example of what I do each week = I was (thankfully) able to leave my corporate career and focus solely on taking care of the home and teaching yoga. My life has blimps of high stress, but overall, I create my own schedule which is freedom to me. Each week I do two longer 60 minute yoga practices that include standing poses and movement. I also fill in the gaps with walking outside, using my rebounder and resistance bands. No matter what, each day I take my 20 minute savasana to fill my piggy bank. I set up a restorative pose with many comfy props, close the door for silence, use an eye pillow for darkness, and set a timer on my cell phone. Keeping an “eye” on not getting attached to my thoughts and providing a rest for my thinking mind and my entire self.

Examples of more stimulating types…

  • Vinyasa flow with a faster pace moving from one pose to another, often contains sun salutations.
  • Hatha practice with a slower pace but longer holds in poses.
  • Equivalents would be biking, running or walking, rebounding, dancing.
  • Just plugging my type of teaching, in my Vimeo library I have classes that are a moderate pace. I have a mixture in each class of some faster movement but also longer holds. If I would label it, I would call it more of a hybrid between Hatha and Vinyasa with a focus on healthy aging.

Examples of calming, more restful types…

  • Meditation is finding a focal point (like a breath pattern) to calm the thinking mind and rest.
  • Yin holding a shape, without moving, for a range of time between 3 to 10 minutes. It is a quiet practice and most poses provide a stretch which can provide flexibility and range of motion.
  • Restorative is supporting the body using props to create an environment that encourages relaxation. It is not about stretching, it is about opening. These are much longer timeframes in a pose, between 15 to 60 minutes.
  • Savasana = Around 5 to 20 minutes to take a quick rest laying down.
  • Nidra = Means “sleep” and it is a guided journey to achieve a active rest for the mind. A script is read by a teacher to take a person into a deeper brain wave state that cannot be reached while just sleeping at night. It is below Delta and the purpose is a deep mind rest.
  • Equivalents would be a bath, massage, gentle nature walk, reading, beach vacation.
  • Again, I have videos for Yin available on Vimeo and also some cozy yoga and guided meditation and breathing practices on YouTube. I will be exploring adding Nidra and Restorative as well, but it might be on a separate Vimeo library since their intentions are so different from the other styles I teach.

Balance

I like the word balance instead of the phrase “everything in moderation” since it sounds a little restrictive to me like a diet plan. Balance in this context is addressing the autonomic nervous system. This system of the body includes the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight/freeze) and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest/digest/recover). For the remainder of this blog I will use their acronyms SNS and PNS.

Seesaw of Nervous System = Recall when you were little and you played on a seesaw (or teeter totter). One side was elevated while the other was down to the ground. But there is that magical moment in which both sides are even and the platform is horizonal with the earth. I like to describe the SNS and PNS as two kids on a seesaw. They are both always “on”, they are just at different ratios during our day. We get a work call that there is a production issue, our SNS ratio increases, that side of the seesaw elevates. This is a good stress response, we need to fix the issue. The heart rate increases, stimulating hormones released, we get revved up and can solve the issue. Normally then the body goes back to that magical place where the seesaw is horizonal.

However, this is not always the case with chronic stress. We can get stuck in a groove of continued and consistent stressors. Always going, never resting. The PNS kid is stuck on the ground not having fun on the playground anymore. This is where the importance of consciously resting with meditation, yin or a restorative practice comes in. Stopping the momentum of the day and giving the PNS a moment to increase its ratio in the body.


In Conclusion

Take a moment to realistically evaluate your life tone and pace of your daily activities. Note which yoga practice you are drawn to and what would be a compliment to it. The purpose is to fill in the gaps and provide a balance.

Fast Pace / Stress / Lots of Responsibilities (family, work) = You may have a natural tendency to only want to do a fast Vinyasa flow (maybe even in a heated room…eekk, talk about stressing your system!). Because like attracts like. It will feel natural to you. Even if that is not actually what you need. The seesaw of your nervous system would love and appreciate a sprinkle of a longer savasana, yin or restorative yoga in the week. These slower and quieter types of yoga might be extremely difficult and even uncomfortable to do. But honestly, that is just a sign of how badly you need it to achieve balance. If you need another motivation, slowing down actually making you more productive. It gets you out of the busy spinning tornado of stress and provides balance, so you can think more clearly and take actions that are less reactive and more thoughtful.

Calm Pace / Blimps of Stress = You may be drawn to restorative yoga naturally and not even want to consider another type of yoga. However to provide the best health for your body, a practice with some strengthening, faster movements and balance challenges would be beneficial.


I hope you find your way to a yoga practice that serves you in the best way possible. Please keep in touch by signing up for my Newsletter and letting me know if you have any questions on videos that I offer via my email ReikiEnergyYoga@gmail.com

Namaste…Carol

How I Record Yoga Videos for YouTube & Vimeo

In case you wanted to record yoga videos or other instructional videos for YouTube or sites like Vimeo, I wanted to document ALL of the details around video, audio and lighting that I use. I had a ton of trial and error over the span of a year in figuring this out. So if this helps to save time for someone, then I am happy to type up this info and share it.

Please note, depending on how you want to record, you can utilize your existing cell phone, gather lamps from around your home and not use a wireless microphone. This is just the route I took since I wanted to make high quality content and I knew this is how I wanted to teach going forward. Everything listed below was a huge investment, it was close to $2000 in total. (Even just to use Vimeo is $240 per year) I want to be blunt and honest about the cost of AV equipment since it is important to figure out if this is just something you want to try or if you are certain that you will be doing this for years to come.

Camera = Canon EOS M50

  • Important note for all cameras, there is a limit to the length it will record video.  This camera is around 29 minutes and then it turns off.  This happens with most mirrorless digital cameras.  If you really want to record for longer, there are ways around it like some Sony and Panasonic Lumix (which I believe records for 100 minutes).  If I researched before buying, I may have gone instead with the Panasonic Lumix.  I just knew I enjoyed Canon before and wanted a camera that I could use for recording yoga videos but also one that I would enjoy for photography.  
  • How do I get around the 29 min limit?  I like the camera as close to me as possible when filming.  So after positioning the tripod, I record the warm-up part of the class near the floor.  I stop the recording when I am in a paused position (child’s pose, seated, etc).  Then I move my tripod further away and up higher and pick up from that same position (as close as possible) and continue from there.  The final part is ending downward facing dog, malasana or a seated position and stopping for a final time.  I move the tripod to the original spot and film the cool down close to the floor.  I end up making 3 pieces of video that I need to edit and then paste together for a full yoga class. 
  • Memory card = SanDisk Extreme Pro, 128GB
  • Lens = The kit lens is 15mm-45mm which has aperture of f3.5.  I went with a new lens since I wanted the f2.0 aperture since my videos were too dark.  I wanted them light and bright.  The lens I purchased separately is the 22mm and it is a very small pancake type lens.  It is easy to manually adjust to get a clear picture and I can get my f2.0 aperture, meaning more light gets into the lens to achieve the brighter image.  However, the downside is that now I needed more distance between myself and the camera.  So if I stayed with the kit lens of 15mm, I could get away with having the camera literally closer to me.  With the 22mm lens, I had to move the tripod further away from me.  Currently the distance is 9 feet from the camera to the middle of my yoga mat when I am recording low to the ground.  When I am seated in a chair or standing, I have to move the tripod back even further, about another 1.5 feet.
  • Shooting Mode (select manual mode, otherwise while you are moving, the camera auto-focused too often)
    • Shooting mode = Manual
    • In order to have a balance of video quality, but also not have too large of a file size, I selected FHD 23.98P
    • ISO speed is set to 100
    • In order to make the picture bright (aka pull more light into the lens), I adjusted this on the touchscreen to F2.0 which is the aperture.  Note you may or may not need this depending on the level of light in your room.  Again, I could only get this with the separately purchased 22mm lens.  
    • White balance = Daylight

Audio = Rode Wireless Go 

  • I had to make some adjustments since directly out of the box when connecting to the camera, there was a loud white noise sound in the background.  Very noticeable when I was silent.  
  • Receiver = Connected via the cable provided to the mic input (3.5mm) on the camera.  Note that I had to adjust the receiver setting labeled “dB” button to the medium volume.  The unit itself sits on top of the camera.  
  • Transmitter = Nothing to do here but turn it on and clip it to my top while recording.
  • Camera settings
    • Sound recording = Manual
    • Rec. level = I moved this to be one quarter of the way from the left
    • I don’t recall changing this but the other setting was under wind filter/attenuator and the setting for attenuator is set to enable.
  • Side Note = If you want to utilize this wireless microphone with your cell phone, you can do that as well.  You just need to purchase an additional cable which is different than the one you use with your camera.  The cable is Rode SC7 which is a TRS to TRRS Patch Cable.  One end is gray (that is the one that connects to your cell phone’s headphone jack) and the other end is black (connects to Rode receiver).  Note that not all cell phones have a 3.5mm headphone jack, so this might not work with yours.  

Lighting

  • 2 light boxes from brand Fovitec.  They are on adjustable stands but I tend to leave them at the same height if I am filming seated or standing.  The top of the rectangle light box is the same height as the top of my shoulder.  
  • I went with the 2000W Fluorescent Studio Lighting Kit on Amazon.  20 by 28 inch softboxes, 10 bulbs, 2 light stands.  
  • The important thing about this kit, not only does it come with the 2 lights, but each of them holds 5 light bulbs so I get a large amount of light from each box.  
  • Plus, the unit has three switches on the back so I can turn on 1, 2 or all 5 light bulbs at the same time.  So depending on your room, you can adjust the light intensity.  
  • I always film with all 5 light bulbs running (aka all three switches turned on).  
  • The bulbs are very large 45W fluorescents.  

Recording with the help of a Computer Monitor

  • When filming, I cannot see the small camera screen, even though it does flip outward to the side.  
  • I am around 10 feet away so I cannot see the timer for recording or if I am in focus or not.  
  • I use a computer monitor (I went with Dell) and hooked up via HDMI on the back of the monitor to the mirco HDMI on the camera.  So when I am filming, the image goes to the computer monitor instead of the camera monitor.  
  • I just had to buy a cable which is micro HDMI to HDMI to connect the two together.  
  • Note that if you want to play back a recording, you can use the monitor to view the video.  But you will not hear the sound since the monitor does not have speakers.  So to check the video and audio together, unhook the HDMI cable and play the video back to check both the video and audio together via the camera touchscreen.  

Video Editing

  • When editing, I trim the video to remove the start and end.  Meaning the part where I am going up to the camera to start and stop recording.  I then use OpenShot Video Editor to piece the videos together. 

Yoga Pose Alignment: Answering the question, “Am I doing the pose correctly?”

If I had one thing to change in the yoga world, it would be for students to trust the wisdom of what their bodies are telling them. I even have students shy away from doing yoga videos since they want the teacher to see them in order to “correct their pose”. Doing a home practice with videos is such a gift. All of your props are there, no one is watching you so you have full freedom to enjoy your practice and time alone is important in our lives. Dedicating a time for yourself per week and realizing you are important enough to hold that time for yourself is powerful. It can lead to an increase in overall self-care, willpower and benefit you in more ways than I could list here.

Getting back to the question at hand…Am I doing the pose correctly?

Short answer…Please trust yourself, your instincts. Listen to your body. There is a ton of gray area in yoga alignment. There is no “wrong”. Our brains love to label things but yoga is about getting “out of your head” and connecting with the body, the breath and the heart, how you truly feel. As long as you feel safe and stable in the pose, then you are doing it correctly.

Longer answer…First, I do LOVE getting yoga questions from my students and encourage as many as possible. I am in a constant state of learning myself so with those questions, I continue to refine my cues and varieties offered to promote more confidence in my students.

The main question to ask yourself is “what are you feeling in the pose”? Do you feel a sense of stability and control? Or do you feel like you were struggling to hold the shape and it was unsafe or unsteady? Do you have a sense of ease which allowed your breath to flow without strain? Or were you tensing up in your shoulders, neck, even tightness felt in the eyes and the breath responded in suit?


Let’s take Malasana or Garland Squat as an example

  • Should my heels touch the floor?
  • How far apart should my feet be?
  • Should my feet face straight forward or a little angled outward?
  • This pose is a deep hip flexion, knee flexion and dorsiflexion for the ankle. It also has an affect on the upper body as well. The stomach is compressed by the thighs. This is not an easy pose to do by the way. So the question is, how does your body feel in the shape? Could you find some ease and actually stay in the pose for maybe 4 rounds of breath? If not, play around and switch it up. Think of it as a choose your own adventure approach to the shape.
  • Sit on chair with blocks under feet
  • Sit on a couple of blocks
  • Keep your heels grounded but lift your hips higher in space
  • Place a folded edge of a blanket under your heels
  • Play around with one leg at a time
  • Add movement…Shift your weight over and lift your heel high
  • The point is, there is no “wrong”. All of these shapes are the pose called Malasana. If more than one feels good to you, add variety in your practice which both your body and mind will appreciate. At the end of the day, if none of these work, then skip it! There are SO many other poses to do.

If I do nothing else as a teacher. My gift to my students is to empower them to play within the shape. Test out different ways to place your hands or feet. Try out different props – strap, block, bolster, chair, wall support. And then listen. Listen to the deep internal wisdom of your body. Take time in the shape to actually feel it. If you feel safe and stable to do so, close your eyes while in the pose. Focus on the breath.

There is no “wrong” in yoga. If you are respecting your unique and beautiful anatomy, then you are doing your practice correctly.

My role as a teacher is to provide you with a creative variety of shapes and prop usage within an intelligently sequenced practice based on anatomy. I am also there to teach you what to notice in the shape and some anatomy information so you can make an informed and confident decision in your practice on what to do. I am there to guide you into a holistic practice which includes more than just the physical poses (connection to breath, mudras, intention setting, yoga philosophy, etc) I am also there to encourage you to stay with a consistent practice and to enjoy it. Yoga is a true gift to yourself.

If you wish to continue on a yoga journey with me, I have videos on Vimeo which can be rented, purchased or there is an unlimited monthly subscription as well. I encourage you to stay in contact with me for any questions (even anatomy ones). My email is ReikiEnergyYoga@gmail.com.

Thank you and take care…Carol Bailey