I don't have all the answers, but I am happy to share what I know. Please continue to submit your yoga questions and they'll be answered in an upcoming post. Here are this week's questions:
Question 1: Hello! So nice to discover you and your blog (which both seem to be lovely). My question is how often should I be going to classes with the end goal of attending everyday, bearing in mind that I am a bit out of shape and am not the most flexible. I know that I should go as often as feels right for my body but I also know that it will be easier to reach my goals if I have consistent plan or schedule to commit to. What would you recommend? Thank you!
Answer 1: The great thing about yoga is that there are so many different types to incorporate into your practice. For this reason, it's no problem to go as often as you like because you can switch it up between power, ashtanga, and hot yoga classes which are more athletic, and then balance them out with gentle, restorative, yin classes which are slower. The most important thing is to listen to your body. If you're doing too much, your body will tell you. For total beginners I would say twice a week for a few weeks, then move up to three times a week, and possibly go up to five or six times a week - provided the classes are switched up regularly and the body and mind are handling it well.
Question 2: My question is kind of silly, but usually I`m not sure if the distance between my hands and feet is correct. For example, in the warriors how can I know when the legs are split enough. Or in the downward facing dog how can I know if my hands and feet are at the correct distance....Ps: Sorry If my english is not very good, but I´m from Argentina! ;)
Answer 2: This is not a silly question at all! If you're looking for in depth alignment tips for specific poses, you can check out the yoga poses section. But for a quick fix, I like considering the shape the body should be making in each pose and then adjusting the foundation (in these poses they are the hands and feet). This is a good strategy because honestly, everyone has a different body shape so there isn't a concrete answer that will work for everyone. Above, I've put the shapes in pink. If your hands or feet are too close or too far apart, the shape will change and you'll know your alignment is off. Hope that's helpful!
Question 3: Hi Candace I've just started yoga recently and seem to be getting on ok but the biggest problem I have is my feet even sitting with my feet tucked under my legs I feel a lot of pain in the fronts of my feet. Do you have any suggestions to loosen this area and make it more comfortable?
Answer 3: Ouch! This can be super painful, and used to happen to me when I first started out. The one (and only?!) rule of yoga is that we should never feel any pain. We want to find "the edge" and work in that range so we're always constantly progressing. So if you ever feel pain, immediately back off. In this case, what you're experiencing is most likely due to tightness in the tops of the feet. To alleviate, you can modify this pose as shown above. The blanket gives space between your feet and the mat so the feet don't have to rest all the way on the mat. As you progress, you can use a blanket that's not as thick until you're able to come all the way down to the mat without any tightness.
It might also help to incorporate this yoga for the feet sequence into your practice. It'll awaken the tendons and strengthen the muscles in the feet. Many times tightness in the feet is due to underdeveloped muscles and a lack of flexibility in the feet. As you practice more yoga, start engaging the feet more to begin developing the muscles and flexibility. You can do that by curling your toes when you're in certain positions like low lunge. These mens' toe socks (women's here) are great for the feet (you can just wear them around the house after work or on the weekends), and if you want to be adventurous, try a pair of vibram five fingers. They're not very pretty, but they are excellent for developing the little muscles in the feet.