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Here I’m going to introduce you to dear friend of ours at Living So Lovely Co. named Jordan.

She’s going to give us some information about Yoga. Enjoy !

Q & A with Jordan !

Question: Can you tell us about yourself? What got you started into yoga? What has kept you so invested? How long have you been doing this ?

Jordan : Hi friends! My name is Jordan, and I’m from Worcester, MA. I’ve been practicing yoga since 2013. I’m someone who has struggled - really struggled - with depression and anxiety and PTSD from years of traumatic abuse, and on my path to free myself from my abusive situations, I kinda withdrew and numbed myself from everything into a really dark period. I was looking for a slow paced workout that could give me the motivation to get me out of bed and get my body moving again. I bought a Groupon for a yoga website and took my first yoga class in my living room and it was the complete opposite of a slow paced workout. It was HARD… I had absolutely no body awareness, I fell a lot, and I couldn’t stop fidgeting when the instructor told me to sit still…but when the video was over I felt so EMPOWERED. Even though I felt like I “messed up” through most of the class, I was still proud of myself for trying. That feeling of being proud of myself was something I never felt before, and that’s what’s kept me so invested all these years. Yoga has given me the opportunity to get to know me, body, mind and spirit, and how to find peace and forgiveness within myself.

Question: What is YOGA?

Jordan : The word “yoga” is Sanskrit for union, or to unite. Yoga has been around for thousands of years. The practice was passed down verbally from teacher to student, until about 200 BCE when a sage named Patanjali wrote the practice down. According to Patanjali, there are Eight Limbs of Yoga, and they are:

  1. The Yamas: ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), bramacharya (sexual restraint), and aparigraha (non-possessiveness).

  2. the Niyamas: saucha (purity/hygiene/what we eat/what we put into our bodies), santosha (contentment/gratitude for what we have), tapas (inner fire/will power), svadhyaya (self-study/staying true to yourself), and Ishvara Pranidhana (constant devotion to God).

  3. Asanas (yoga poses)

  4. Pranayama - breathing techniques

  5. Pratyahara means withdrawal of the senses.

  6. Dharana - concentration.

  7. Dhyana - meditation.

  8. Samadhi - enlightenment, nirvana, pure bliss

So as you can see, there’s a lot of ways to practice yoga! Sometimes the instructor may use one of these Limbs as a theme for the class, which are my favorite!

Question: What do I need to start Yoga? What if I have never done yoga before?

Jordan : All you need is yourself and an open mind! And don’t forget to have FUN! Don’t take it too seriously!

Question: Is yoga hard? What if I’m inexperienced, inflexible, or out of shape? What should I expect?

Jordan: I think there’s this common misconception that in order to practice yoga you have to look a certain way or be able to do a handstand or the splits…and honestly those were the biggest reasons why I never wanted to try yoga. But they’ve become some of the biggest reasons why I still practice, and why I wanted to get my teacher certification (#representationmatters). But the good news is 80% of yoga is breathing in and breathing out. So if you’re new to yoga, expect to hear the instructor remind you to inhale and to exhale a LOT. Make sure you read the class description before you sign up so you know what to expect. Most studios offer beginner classes, or an all-levels class. In an all-levels class, the instructor will talk you through each pose and how to modify the pose for your body and your comfort level.

Question: How many times should I practice yoga?

Jordan: It’s recommended you practice yoga everyday. Even if you meditate for 5 minutes in your car or you practice your Ujjayi breath in line at the store, that still counts!

Question: How is practicing yoga beneficial for me? Is it good for my body, mind, or spirit?

Jordan: To me, yoga means life. Yoga is more than the physical exercise and the poses (which are great reasons to practice), it’s also about getting to know yourself just by listening to your breathing. It teaches us how to confront and forgive our past to pave way for a more peaceful future. It gives us the courage to find our authentic selves, the bravery to love ourselves, and the confidence to share it all with the world. And when we find this balance of harmony within our bodies, minds, and spirit, we’re patient, more empathetic, less judgmental. When you’re in a good mood, you want to share that mood with the everyone you see!!! The same thing is true with the way you feel after a great yoga class.

Question: What is the purpose of yoga?

Jordan: I think the purpose of yoga is different for everybody, and it changes with each season of life. When I first started practicing yoga, I desperately needed to heal from my trauma and needed a sweaty fast paced class. Now in this season of life, I’m drawn to a slower pace, which I’m using to find my voice so I may help anyone else that may be struggling with anxiety, depression, or PTSD find healing through yoga.

Question: What is Ujjayi Pranayama?

Jordan: Ujjayi Pranayama is Sanskrit for Victorious Breath, and it’s a common breathing technique we use to heat the body from the inside out. We start by taking an audible inhale through the nose and an audible exhale also through the nose, the sound is sometimes compared to ocean waves or Darth Vader breathing, with a “Haaaaaa” sound during the exhale. This technique teaches us how to use our breath to better understand what our body needs. About 80% of yoga is our breath, so that means if a certain pose causes our Ujjayi breath to become shallow or labored, we simply modify the pose until we regain control of our Ujjayi breath.

Question: What does Namaste mean?

Jordan: Namaste means “I bow to you”, and it’s a popular way to end a yoga class. I use it as a form of gratitude at the end of practice to show my appreciation for myself and my students.

Question: What does Om mean?

Jordan: We chant pretty frequently in yoga to help raise our vibrations (energy), and OM Is one of the chants. We usually OM in the beginning and the end of class to invite a spiritual and creative vibration to our practice.

Question: What is Hatha?

Jordan: There’s different branches, or types, of yoga, and Hatha is one of those branches. (If you’ve heard of vinyasa yoga or Bikram yoga, these are other popular branches of yoga) Hatha yoga is usually slower paced, where you hold the poses for more time, settling in to focus on your alignment and your breath. Hatha yoga is great for beginners, and even for advanced yogis looking to build their endurance.

Question: How is Yoga different from stretching or other kinds of fitness?

Jordan: I think yoga is different from other kinds of fitness because of how much it encourages you to connect your body to your mind. You gain this amazing body awareness where you can literally change your mood in a matter of minutes with different poses and breath work.

Question: What are your most recommended poses and why? Does sequence matter?

Jordan: Sequence can really matter in a yoga class. The yoga instructor brings their creativity into their yoga classes with the way they transition from one pose to the next for a full body exercise. In my vinyasa yoga classes, we usually start with a meditation and a few poses like cat/cow to warm up the body before we move into the more strength-building poses, and maybe a few standing balance poses, then we end with core work and a meditation.

Some recommended poses that my body has been craving in quarantine are:

- Triangle pose (Trikonasana)

- Half-moon pose (Ardha Chandrasana)

- Pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

- Ragdoll (Uttanasana)

Question: Is yoga a religion?

Jordan: I see yoga as more of a philosophy than a religion. I think it’s more about spirituality and a sense of connection to the “Universe”, which just means there’s bigger than us out there.

Question: How can I get more comfortable sitting cross legged?

Jordan: PROPS PROPS PROPS! I looooove props! If you have yoga blocks, you can place them under your knees, and that will help bring your knees to a more comfortable position. Over time, you can play with using the different sides of the blocks until you feel more comfortable without them. You can also try hip opening poses like Warrior 2, pigeon, or lunges like lizard and skandasana (side lunge) to help cultivate the strength and range of motion in your hip flexors. And of course practicing daily helps too! :)

Question: How many poses in yoga are there?

Jordan: There are quite a few poses in yoga, I think between 80 - 100 poses depending on what type of yoga you practice.

Question: Which poses are helpful for lower back pain?

Jordan: Always always consult with a doctor if you have any pain or discomfort before trying any exercise! That being said, belly-down backbends like locust or baby cobra/upward facing dog can help with strengthening our back muscles. Also high lunge (Anjaneyasana), and core exercises like plank and boat pose can help strengthen our core to help us alleviate any extra work our back may be overcompensating for.

Question: Why do I struggle with balance? Is this normal?

Jordan: oh girl this is SO NORMAL!! Absolutely no one is born with perfect balance. But just like with anything, the more you practice, the easier it’ll become. There’s a lot of learning that happens when you find your balance, but I think a lot more growth comes from falling down and getting right back up to try again. So if you’re struggling with your balance in your yoga practice, don’t get discouraged!! You’re doing great!!

Question: How long will it take for me to get this right?

Jordan: My very favorite part of yoga is the fact that we’re all students, and we’ll all be students forever and ever. Since yoga is about listening to YOUR body, you are your own guide. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to learning, and that’s why they call this art a practice!

Question: What is HOT yoga? What do you know about this?

Jordan: I love hot yoga! I actually earned my teaching certificate from Hot Power Yoga Center on Grafton St (in Worcester, Massachusetts). So hot yoga is a regular yoga class, just done in a room that’s heated to between 90 - 105 degrees. There are so many benefits to practicing hot yoga…it’s great for detoxifying your body, and the heat actually helps you to relax your muscles and your mind.

Question: Are there different types of Yoga?

Jordan: Yes!! There’s 8 different styles of Yoga, Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Hot Yoga, Iyengar, Restorative, and Vinyasa. I teach vinyasa yoga :). You can read about the different types here: A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO YOGA

Question: Are there any poses that help with fatigue or stress?

Jordan: Oh, yes! Lots!! For fatigue, I recommend:

- Locust / Bow pose

- Bridge / Wheel pose

- Child’s Pose

A lot of us hold our stress, tension, and emotions in our hips, so I would recommend hip openers like:

- pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

- reclining bound angle pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

I would also recommend waterfall pose (Viparita Karani), reclining spinal twist (Supta Matsyendrasana) or triangle pose (Trikonasana) for both fatigue and stress.

Question: Is there anything else you can share with us about yoga?

Jordan: If you’ve been thinking about trying a yoga class, give it a shot! Yoga is a beautiful expression of self-love, and I think we all need to show ourselves a little bit more love. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from a book called The Bhagavad Gita: “Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” I currently teach outdoor vinyasa yoga at the Burncoat Center for Arts & Wellness. I can be found on Instagram @jordanzaaa

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