Flexibility has always been something that has come naturally to me. If you have any sort of dance or even any sports background, your body is used to being pushed to the limit. However, the older you get, if you don't use it, you lose it, as my grandmother used to say. Doing a split without excruciating pain is a thing that I truly miss from my youth. Since discovering that I no longer have the hips and joints of my younger years, I have been in search of ways to remedy this in 2021. The most common answer to my problem is yoga. Yoga has been out here saving lives, hips, knees, backs, and all the joints.
Like most things, finding out where to start with your yoga journey can be a little confusing. If yoga has been on your mind but you don't know where to start, let this article serve as a reference to get started. There is a lot of Instagram content that shows many beautiful images of people practicing yoga who are of all walks of life. Some of the poses can look a little intimidating but everybody has to start somewhere. And just like anything else, it takes time to perfect your practice. To get the best answers to how to start a yoga journey, I reached out to The Hippie Heathen, CEO and founder of Sisters of Yoga. Below is the insight and wisdom she had to share:
Determine Your Why Before You Start
How many times do we start things just for the sake of starting things without really thinking about why and if we should even start? Tie says starting your yoga practice has to begin with intention. “Before you even start yoga, it is good to take a moment to determine what is your reason for even starting yoga," she explains. “Like any other goal, you need to know why am I doing this. This can keep you going when it gets uncomfortable, uncertain, and, difficult.”
Whether it's to lose weight, gain strength, or become more flexible, understanding your why will push you through. To confirm your needs and intentions, Tie says to asks yourself, "Why yoga, why now, and what are three things you are hoping to gain out of your yoga practice."
Practice Alignment With A Beginner Yoga Class
We are still in the midst of COVID and trying to deal with the resulting pandemic. Even though gyms and things are still open, we still need to practice social distancing and wear our masks. It is recommended that when starting a yoga practice to do so under the direction of a yoga teacher. Tie acknowledges that this helps with getting the poses and alignments correct. With a yoga teacher in your presence, you can get quick direct assistance to avoid mistakes. However, with COVID, things are a bit different. "I recommend starting with online instruction where there are specifically true beginners and start with alignment," Tie notes.
This will give you the correct foundation so you know what you need to watch out for in certain poses. Also, this will save you from future injury. Tie tells us that she started her journey from home seven years ago and was self-taught for two years. She suffered a few injuries by not going to a yoga studio in the beginning and this is the basis for why she believes starting with an instructor in a studio is best. A great alternative to adjust to social distancing is looking into doing a private 1-on-1 with a yoga instructor if you feel comfortable. During the pandemic, it is a great time to sign up for virtual private sessions, as they are more common right now. Whatever class you decide to take should be based on your comfort level.
What To Expect In For Your First Yoga Session
"Expect your teacher to help you flow through your poses. You can also expect some hands-on adjustments if that teacher wants to do that. If you don't want hands-on adjustments your instructor will give you a cue to let them know. Most of the time if you are new they will not touch you." This is important because as we already stated, yoga involves a lot of alignment and adjusting your body, so consider that before you take your first class.
When you go to your first class Tie says that you should go in with a positive attitude, "Go into a class with an open mind. If you go into a class feeling like this isn't for me, it's not going to be for you."
If you put negative energy in the space then that is what you are going to get out of it. "Expect to be challenged," Tie clearly states, "Expect to surprise yourself. Expect to find some calm that you didn't know you could find, you can expect to find so many different things."
Beginner Yoga Poses
Downward Facing Dog
This pose stretches out the full body and helps with building a foundation for all of the other poses in yoga. It is the foundational pose in yoga for building strength in your shoulders and your legs. Downward facing dog is an all-around full-body stretch.
Child's pose is really good for grounding down. It is a really good pose for doing root chakra work, surrendering, stretching your hips, and just checking in with yourself. It is a pose that is dedicated to going into yourself. (Sidebar: Tie says this is a really good pose for women when they are on their cycles to relieve pain.)
The plank pose is another really good arm strengthing pose and a good pose to prep for other poses that are commonly practiced in yoga.
This is a great pose for building a solid foundation in your legs and building confidence in your practice. It is also a great beginner pose for opening up your full body in a strengthing pose.
The cow-cat flow are two poses that are made into one small flow. It is a great pose to open up the body and great to do in the morning. This pose actually helps to limber up your spine. It is recommended for lower back and back stretching. It can be used for synchronizing your breath because one movement is an inhale and the other is an exhale. This flow is a great one to start your practice with.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold
Forward pose is always a yes. It helps with low back pain and helps you open your hips. It can also be helpful for relieving headaches and tension in your neck and back.
Tree pose is the first balance pose. You are learning to balance with this pose and it is a foundational pose.
Another great pose that is always a YES! It is literally the pose that you go to when you just don't have anything else to give. You literally lay into the floor. It is a beautiful pose of surrender and connecting to the earth and to the Source. It is a great pose for meditation and for you to practice at the end of your flow.
You can find this pose in alto of flows because it is a foundational pose for building stability in the body. It is going to open up your hips and it is going to ground you down to the earth. It is a confidence-building pose because you feel like a warrior and you will feel in control of your body.
If you are working on splits, low lunge is a great pose to begin work there. This pose will help you open up your hips and your hamstrings. If you are a runner or you lift a lot of weights, this is the pose you should add to your stretch routine. This pose should be done daily for optimal results.
Also known as cobra, this pose is perfect for beginners because it a backbend that will not make you uncomfortable. Furthermore, it is a backbend that will help you build the foundation for more advanced backbends. Use this pose to warm yourself up before you go into practicing backbends.
The Emotional Component To Making Yoga A Practice
"When you are practicing these poses, there are a lot of times where you are moving energy around. You are shifting energy in your body around and a lot of times things that you have trapped in your muscles that you haven't dealt with and can come up as many different things. It can come up as joy, it can come up as anxiety, fear, or sadness. Heart-openers, which are a set of poses that open up your heart space, we feel vulnerable or more open. It will cause you to have many experiences if you allow it and tap into it." Tie notes that off of the mat is where the real gold is. "On the mat, these same practices you are learning are preparing you for off of the mat.
"The balancing you are learning on the mat is teaching you how to have balance in real life. Learning to strengthen your heart space is to teach you how to be open in your life and your relationship with yourself. Increasing your flexibility on the mat teaches you how to be flexible in real life."
She continues, "Many people say how does this teach me things in real life? Well, with flexibility, it is mental. Do you know how many things you go through every day mentally. You are literally taking yourself through a process [that strengthens you mentally] and it becomes a domino effect that spills over into your life."
How To Make Yoga A Practice
Once we decide that we are going to try yoga in our routine for health and wellness, Tie suggests that we practice two to four times a week for at least 15 minutes or at the most 60 minutes with an instructor. As you begin to search for an instructor, remember it is about trust and finding someone you vibe with. Similar to the process of finding a therapist. It is very important to work with someone you like.
To connect with Tie Simpson follow her on Instagram and check out her Beginner's Guide to Starting Yoga for more. Also, check out Sisters of Yoga for many resources about yoga for Black people on Instagram.
Featured image by Jacob Lund/Shutterstock
Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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Tracee Ellis Ross On Why She Declined The Idea Of Someone Else Running Her Hair Company
Actress and entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross recently revealed the driving force behind her desire to become the owner of her haircare brand, Pattern.
According to its site, Pattern is a haircare company that provides a wide range of products, from shampoos, conditioners, oils, creams, and many more to individuals with curls, coils, and tight hair textures. Although Pattern would launch in 2019, the idea for the company first came to Ross a decade before --in 2008, when her hit show Girlfriends wrapped-- following a brief encounter at a beauty supply store and many wanting to recreate her past looks.
At the time, those individuals couldn't achieve the exact results because limited natural hair products were offered to the public. That instance became a pivotal moment in the star's life because she spent eleven years experimenting with professionals to create products that best suit those within the natural hair community.
In a May conference with Fortune's MPW Next Gen, Ross opened up about the struggles she faced early on as an entrepreneur trying to get Pattern off the ground and why she declined the offer to have the company be run by someone else.
Tracee On Past Struggles And Why She Chose To Run Her Company
During the discussion, the 50-year-old revealed that she is Pattern's "majority owner" because the company's overall mission to cater to those in the natural hair community was built from her "experiential knowledge."
"I'm a majority owner of my company. [Other celebrities with brands] aren't the founders of the company. Often, they join a company that exists," she said. "The mission [at Pattern] is born out of my experience. It's born out of my own experiential knowledge."
Further in the interview, Ross would add that she avoided partnering with an expert for Pattern because she felt she had gained enough knowledge experimenting with products in her bathroom.
"I didn't want to partner with an expert or a 'professional' because I felt—like so many—I had become my own best expert in my bathroom because the beauty industry was not catering to us," she stated.
Despite refusing to have a partner within her company, Ross found creative ways to build it. It includes paying a chemist with her own money to bring her visions of various products to life, and sending those samples to retail stores, ultimately leading to partnerships.
The final piece that helped Ross during her journey was receiving advice from business partners on ways to improve the brand, one of which came from Ulta Beauty CEO and Footlocker CEO Mary Dillon.
The black-ish star claimed that Dillon helped her realize how she could use her celebrity status and journey to promote Pattern, which she did. Because of that, Patten has now become a favorable haircare brand among many.
Tracee On How She Plans To Use Her Company To Create Opportunities For Others
Toward the end of the discussion, Ross disclosed how she plans to use the power of being Pattern's CEO to help others.
The High Note star explained that being an owner of a company has given her access to be around other CEOs interested in what appears to be becoming more profitable, and with that, she wants to expand that access to other people.
"I know that I have access to sit at a table with a CEO in a way that perhaps another founder doesn't. And when I do that, I make sure that those conversations are not only centered around Pattern," she said. "They're centered around creating and expanding the access for all of us."
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