Free Classes in Your Community
It might take some sleuthing, but there could be a variety of free yoga classes offered in your town. If you’re enrolled in an academic institution, go online or visit the fitness center to find out what’s being offered. But, no need to stop there! Local libraries and churches often offer free or donation-based classes. Many yoga clothing stores like Lululemon and Prana offer free weekly in-store classes. If you’re into Kundalini Yoga, sadhana (daily morning practice) is always offered free of charge.
Work Trade Programs
Many studios offer exchange programs where you can exchange time working in the studio at the desk or cleaning after class for a free or discounted membership. Many studios have this opportunity listed on their site, but for those that don’t, reaching out to studios and inquiring is definitely worth it.
There are many skilled yoga instructors that have their own YouTube channels offering high quality and free video classes with a wide variety of styles and lengths. Some great channels to check out are (links) Yoga With Adriene, Body Positive Yoga, and DOYOUYOGA.
You’re already here. Stay a while! Head on over to our sequences and video pages to find hundreds of free practices: from stress and anxiety reduction to vigorous strengthening workouts.
Many studios have at least one donation-based or free class on their schedule. Check out some of the local studios in your area to see if they offer these more accessible classes. Attending these free classes at multiple studios is a great way to expose yourself to a variety of yoga teachers and styles for little to no cost. Also, many studios offer very low introductory rates: pay $40 for two weeks of unlimited classes, for example. Check the website or call to find out.
See also The Business of Yoga: Why I Run a Donation-Based Studio.
Turning to a book to practice yoga may not be your first instinct, but there are many amazing books out there that offer different yoga poses and sequences that you can choose from based on what you are needing out of your practice. Sequencing your own at-home practice out of books is a fun way to get creative and deepen your understanding of asana. Buying a yoga book, or better yet, borrowing one from the library, is a simple cost-efficient way to practice at home.
Here are some great books to enhance your home practice:
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Website: the-well.com | Instagram: @thewell | Monthly membership: Rates start at $375
Build a Foundation
Start your mornings in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) to feel grounded and steady during fall’s unpredictability. “Mountain Pose is solid and enduring and represents the potential for dealing with anything,” says Joyce Englander Levy, director of Mindful Movement. “It’s a reminder that you can cultivate a broader vision for your life.” Build the pose from the ground up: Anchor your feet, stand tall, and hold your gaze at the horizon or into your own eyes in the mirror. Breathe mindfully for 5–10 breaths, or until you feel a sense of confidence. If at any point of the day you feel overwhelmed, revert to Mountain Pose for 5 more breaths.
Watch + Learn: Mountain Pose
Savor the Sunlight
Tempting as it may be to hunker down indoors when it gets chilly, sunlight helps sync your body with the natural rhythm of the changing weather. “Natural light lets your brain and your hormones know when it is time to wake or go to sleep,” says Amanda Carney, director of Health Coaching. “Exposure first thing in the morning supports this cycle and can positively affect your mood, energy levels, and mental clarity throughout the day.” When natural light hits your retina, it sends a direct message to your brain that triggers alertness. A few minutes outside, even on a cloudy day, provides tangible benefits.
“In Ayurveda, tulsi is considered a rasayana—an immunity-boosting herb,” says Ananta Ripa Ajmera, director of Ayurveda. “It enhances the body’s power to withstand the negative impact of stress and helps restore normal physiological functioning.” To help boost your immunity this fall, try this homemade tulsi supplement: Mix 1 tsp honey, ¼ tsp ground black pepper, and ½ tsp tulsi leaf powder until ingredients bind together. Take once a day, preferably in the morning, about an hour prior to breakfast, Ajmera says.
See also Tulsi: The Anti-Aging, Stress-Fighting Wonder Herb You Need to Know
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Live Be Yoga ambassadors Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt are on a road trip across the country to sit down with master teachers, host free local classes, and so much more—all to illuminate the conversations pulsing through the yoga community today.
Our hearts experience so much in this lifetime. Keeping them open, clear, and stable can be challenging as there are so many forces in this existence that make us want to collapse, close and shut down our heart center. However, there are just as many forces that are loving, inspiration and encouraging.
This Kundalini Yoga set called Aura Kriya works to reset your electromagnetic field so you can attract positive energy and repel negativity. If you have been feeling a little “off” lately, this set will give you that jumpstart you may need or crave.
See also A Beginner’s Guide to Kundalini Yoga.
Each exercise can be practiced anywhere from 90 seconds to 3 minutes. But whatever amount of time you choose to practice each exercise, make sure you practice the same amount of time for each one.
As with all Kundalini sets, we start by tuning in. Here’s how:
- Take a comfortable seat, close your eyes, and place your hands in prayer pose at your heart center
- Chant the Adi Mantra three times: Ong namo guru dev namo (I bow to the divine teacher within)
- Inhale deeply, suspend the breath, and release.
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Jumpsuits are a trendy and flattering alternative to yoga pants. They keep everything in one place so you don’t need to worry about accidentally flashing someone. Even better, they’re super cute and sexy. Most jumpsuits are a blend of spandex and other fabrics, which impacts their breathability and flexibility. If you’re trying to find the perfect jumpsuit for your next class, check out our guide to our favorite one-pieces below.
- Most Comfortable: URBAN K Women’s Active Yoga Wear Jumpsuit
- Best for Hot Yoga: LOVESOFT Women’s Sexy Sport Yoga Jumpsuit
- Most Colorful: Amilia Women’s Spaghetti Strap Tank Jumpsuit
- Best for Easy Movement: Sumtory Women Crisscross Bandage Jumpsuit
Most Comfortable: URBAN K Women’s Active Yoga Wear Jumpsuit
If you’re looking for a jumpsuit that is simple and flexible, look no further than URBAN K’s spaghetti strap or scoop neck option. It looks great in class and when you throw a sweater over it on your way home, and the stretchy cotton material is made for comfort. The scoop neck and tight waistline add style to make this utilitarian jumpsuit flattering. Better yet, it’s available in plus sizes! Ding: This jumpsuit may not be as stretchy as others and it’s only available in four colors. Double ding: White and beige may not be the best colors for hot yoga. $8-$27.99; Buy Now
Best for Hot Yoga: LOVESOFT Women’s Sexy Sport Yoga Jumpsuit
This jumpsuit is perfect to wear to all of your hot yoga classes. Many jumpsuits are designed to be backless to allow for easier arm movement during class. This jumpsuit takes it a step further by including a built-in sports bra so you don’t need to worry about restraining bra straps either. Its fabric is a durable nylon and spandex blend, making it light-weight and moisture wicking. Note: this jumpsuit runs small, so check the size chart and consider ordering up a size. Bonus: Check out that back design! $29.99-$39.99; Buy Now
Most Colorful: Amilia Women’s Spaghetti Strap Tank Jumpsuit
Most jumpsuits are available in black and gray, but if you want to make a bold statement in a brightly-colored (or patterned) jumpsuit, this is your pick. Made with spaghetti straps and a low scoop neckline, this jumpsuit is available in 14 fun colors and patterns. It will hug your curves and easily move with you because of its flexible polyester and spandex blend which won’t bunch up (or show sweat) like cotton. Note: This jumpsuit may run a little short, so be sure to check the sizing chart if you’re tall. $14.99-$16.99; Buy Now
Best for Easy Movement: Sumtory Women Crisscross Bandage Jumpsuit
Most jumpsuits fit skin-tight, but if you want an option that’s a little looser, this is the choice for you. The Sumtory jumpsuit loosely hugs your curves for a more modest twist to the fad. The open back allows for easy arm movement and the breathable fabric make this pick perfect for cardio as well as your daily yoga routine. Note: This jumpsuit (especially the camo pattern) runs small, so consider ordering a size up. $20.99-$21:99; Buy Now
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As climate change activism heats up this month (the Global Climate Strike is taking place from September 20-27), yoga studios, teachers, and organizations are joining the call for a healthier environment and sustainable future. Eoin Finn, founder of Blissology and the EcoKarma foundation, encourages yogis to recognize their connection with nature and make preserving the planet a lifestyle.
“We are one with the environment” says Finn. “Take breathing for example. Breathing brings the outer world inside of you. We take air into our bodies and it passes through us via our blood – it’s hard to separate where physiology ends and the environment begins. Our job as yogis is to create experiences and rituals in our practice where we feel this interconnection.”
Amy Ippoliti, another renowned yoga teacher and environmental activist, pushes for action above all else. “We are deeply interconnected with all life on earth and the practice of yoga only heightens that awareness. Our actions need to be consistent and relentless. Let’s be clear.”
Here are six ways yogis can get involved in climate activism.
See also The Rise of Eco-Friendly Yoga Studios
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Live Be Yoga ambassadors, Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt share a snapshot of their time in Chicago. Each city they travel to they are constantly on the go with studio events, content creation, connecting with the yoga community and so much more. Thankfully EVOLVE® is a tour sponsor and provides them with plant based protein bars to sustain their energy from city to city. EVOLVE® protein bars are convenient on-the-go nutrition and taste delicious.
Learn more about the Evolve® Brand by visiting, drinkevolve.com.
Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt are on a road trip across the country to sit down with master teachers, host free local classes, and so much more—all to illuminate the conversations pulsing through the yoga community today. Follow the tour and get the latest stories @livebeyoga on Instagram and Facebook.
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- Core Muscles
- Box Breath Muscles
- Core Viscera
When we talk about core power, abdominal muscles come to mind. But our core is much more than that. It connects us to our feelings and moods via the nerves of our gastrointestinal system and our enteric nervous system, or “belly brain.” We might feel off kilter when our gut health is out of whack or disconnected from life when our bellies are hard and tight. We can also experience upset stomachs when we feel stressed, depressed, or sleep-deprived.
Here’s a fuller view of your core, or the space between the diaphragm and pelvic floor, wrapping around the torso—also known as “the midsection” and “abdominopelvic cavity.”
- It includes numerous muscles, superficial and deep: rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, transversus abdominis, multifidus, erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, and distal latissimus dorsi.
- It is home to most of your viscera: stomach, spleen, small and large intestines, liver, gall bladder, kidneys, pancreas, bladder, and reproductive organs.
See also Yoga Anatomy 201: Tension in Your Neck and Shoulders? Why You Should Focus on Your Rib Cage for Relief
Your core muscles help control your posture and body position. For instance, the rectus abdominis works primarily to stabilize your rib cage in relation to your pelvis. The transversus abdominis and multifidus work with the pelvic floor and diaphragm to stabilize your lumbar spine. Your core muscles also produce and transfer force during dynamic movements such as vinyasa yoga or running, maintaining spinal stability in order to protect your nerves, disks, joints, and connective tissue. Try these asana to explore abdominal stabilization:
See also Retrain Your Core: 5 Steps for More Stability in Standing Poses
Box Breath Muscles
Among your core muscles, your abdominal muscles—rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, transversus abdominis—work as accessory respiratory muscles, affecting how well you breathe, which, in turn, affects how you feel. Use this simple breath-based practice, which manipulates pressure in your belly space, to explore how changes in muscle activation affect your mental and emotional states.
- Sit or lie down with as much support as needed to feel comfortable.
- Inhale and exhale at your own pace for 6-10 rounds of breath, allowing the body to move with the breath.
- After at least 6 rounds of breath, exhale and pull the navel toward the spine without moving the pelvis or rib cage.
- Hold the navel in and take 4-6 rounds of breath, noting the depth and other sensations of the breath.
- Inhale, relax the abs, and breathe at your own pace until you feel recovered.
- Then, exhale and pull the lower abs in toward the sacrum without moving the pelvis or rib cage.
- Hold the lower belly in and take 4-6 rounds of breath, again noting the depth and sensations.
- Inhale, relax the abs, and allow yourself to recover.
- Finally, exhale and pull the side waist in toward the center of the body without any accessory movements.
- Hold the side waist in, like a tight wide belt, and take 4-6 rounds of breath.
- Inhale and breathe naturally, noting any changes in breath and body sensation.
See also Strengthen Your Core Without Crunches with this Simple 5-Pose Sequence
Your sense of well-being relies deeply on the condition of your enteric nervous system, which connects to your central nervous system via the vagus nerve and several other pathways. The belly brain and central nervous system work together to control digestive function and how you react to stress. When your belly feels painful, acidic, or heavy, your nervous system and perception often mirror these qualities; you may find yourself sticking to a hard, narrow view, and have trouble adapting to change. In particular, stressors such as chronic disease, sleep deprivation, work-life imbalance, and emotional suffering stimulate the vagus nerve and changes in hormone levels, blood pressure, metabolism, and mental clarity.
Research shows the damaging effect of chronic stress on vagal tone, especially the correlation between an exaggerated stress response and gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. Restorative Yoga is one way to allow your body to rest, digest, and repair itself. In particular, supported and restorative back extensions take pressure off the belly region by positioning it higher than the heart and head. Most of us remember a time when our gut feeling was so strong that it drowned out the voices in our head; practicing these back extensions lets us further develop our intuition. With our soft belly lifted, we open ourselves maximally to the present moment and might find clarity if we feel confused or conflicted. There is no greater position of vulnerability and strength.
Learning to trust your gut requires gentle, consistent practice. When you feel anxious, depressed, or fatigued, take at least 20 minutes to practice an extended-leg variation of Setu Bandha Sarvangasana. (This pose is contraindicated for pregnancy, diastasis recti, spinal conditions such as lumbar stenosis and spondylolisthesis, abnormal uterine bleeding (menorrhagia), and GERD.) Supported Bridge Pose can help release tight hip flexors and abdominal muscles. It may relieve anxiety and depression by taking energetic pressure off the brain, inviting the body to lead. And it can alleviate insomnia by giving the mind a back seat through lowering the head’s position relative to the heart and belly.
You’ll need 2 bolsters and 1 or 2 belts. Blankets, blocks, and eye pillows are optional.
- Place the bolsters end to end. They will support you from your heels to the wingtips of the shoulder blades. If your feet or legs hang off the end, place blocks under them. If the bolsters are too thick for your comfortable range of motion, use folded blankets instead.
- Sit on top of the bolsters or blankets. Roll your thighs inward. Comfortably tighten a strap below your knees and around your greater trochanters (the uppermost part of your thighs) to keep your legs stable. If it’s more comfortable, bend your knees (skip using a strap below them) and place your feet alongside the props.
- Lower your torso so that the bottom tips of your scapulae rest on the edge of the prop(s) closest to your head. Rest your head comfortably on the floor, placing a blanket under it if needed. You must be able to swallow with ease.
- Place your arms comfortably in a T position or overhead. If your arms need support, place folded blankets under your wrists only; lifting the wrists drops your elbows and relieves your shoulders.
- Cover your eyes and body with a blanket. Rest for 20 minutes.
See also Anatomy 101: Why Anatomy Training is Essential for Yoga Teachers
To come out of the pose, loosen the straps, bend your knees, and take several rounds of breath. Ease yourself onto the floor, and gently drop your knees from side to side or practice Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose). Follow with Cat-Cow Pose or Apanasana (Wind-Relieving Pose). Notice how you feel in your core.
Remember, a soft belly is a strong belly.
See also Anatomy 201: What’s the Difference Between Deep Core Strength and All-Around Trunk Stability?
About our expert
Mary Richards has been practicing yoga for almost 30 years and travels around the country teaching anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology. Mary, a hard-core movement nerd and former NCAA athlete, has a master’s degree in yoga therapy. Learn more at maryrichardsyoga.com.
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When I was younger, I wondered why children my age were taking road trips with their families to vacation spots, when the only road trips I took with my parents were to different doctors. As time went on, I began to wonder why I couldn’t run like the other children in gym class. I wondered why nobody else around me seemed to sympathize with me when I explained that I just didn’t feel good today, even when I looked fine on the outside. It took a year of different tests, scans, and diagnoses, some false, to finally reach a conclusion at age 10: I had rheumatoid arthritis.
I have spent half of my life feeling defeated by this disease. The summer before my diagnosis, I spent on my living room couch because I was too fatigued to even speak. The only visitor I had was the at-home nurse who administered my weekly dose of medication via the PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) line that ran through my body. I picked out new knee braces more often than I went shopping for new clothes
I’ve spent a lot of time suffering from this disease, And, I’ve spent just as much time running away from it. I would avoid my parents when they told me it was time for my weekly injection of medication. I avoided telling my friends, because nobody seemed to really understand. “Isn’t arthritis for old people?” Rheumatoid arthritis socially isolated me from having the normal life I desperately desired growing up. Throughout high school, it made me feel depressed, anxious, and completely helpless.
It wasn’t until I reached my sophomore year of college when I discovered that I didn’t have to be a victim of this chronic disease. That’s when I discovered yoga.
The first time I stepped on a yoga mat was unlike any other. On this particular morning, I woke up with a tightness in my chest, a raging headache, and overwhelming anxiety. Unfortunately, this was an inevitable outcome of dealing with a controlling, progressive disease; to me, this was my “normal.” I desperately wanted to work through the pain I was feeling, but going for a run always left me too worn out. Laying around never helped either.
I decided to search online for a “yoga for anxiety” video, and I was immediately led to a plethora of different classes and instructors. I chose one and as I did the different breathing exercises and gentle poses, I was soon relieved of my mental and physical pain. It was a miracle how at ease I felt afterward. I decided that I would try a different video the next day. Soon, my favorite part of the day was looking for a new yoga video and examining the positive change that was the result of practicing. Slowly, the heaviness in my body was being lifted. Slowly, I was gaining back my control.
I’ll admit that practicing yoga while at college isn’t easy. For the life of me, I can’t even keep a plant alive for more than two weeks; how do I expect to keep myself balanced while being a student? It’s hard for me to let go during a meditation session when there’s five different subjects of homework stacked on my desk. And my roommate has walked in on me numerous times in the middle of Warrior II pose. I’ve even encountered instances when I roll out my mat, only to roll it back up again within minutes because I just didn’t have the energy to practice that day.
Nonetheless, I still return to my daily yoga practice because, for a moment in time, I feel freedom from rheumatoid arthritis. Despite the complicating factors that stand in the way of the ideal, perfect yoga practice, I wouldn’t trade how I practice for the world; yoga isn’t meant to be perfect.
My yoga journey in college has taught me to be grateful for everything—from the small practice space between the beds in my room to even the loud music that may try to interfere with my mind while I lay in Savasana, reminding me to keep returning to my breath despite distractions. Most importantly, yoga has given me the gift of finding myself, something that many other college students yearn to do. I turn to it when I need creative inspiration for my writing, when I need to sit a bit straighter and just breathe during my classes, and I return to it when I’m having a bad day and just need to acknowledge it on my mat and let it go. Through yoga, I continue to discover new things about myself, and I am truly grateful for the never-ending journey it holds for me.
I’m 20 years old now and beginning my junior year in college, following my dream to become a writer. Ten years ago, I would have never pictured this life. I was trapped inside the mind of a girl who feared the power her body had over her. I saw no hope for the future. Today, I feel no evil in the relationship between my body and my disease. Because of yoga, I am finally at peace.
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Caitlin Gottschalk knows how to create beautiful things. The 30-year-old yoga teacher studied design at both Parsons and London College of Fashion before launching her first business, sustainable clothing and accessories brand Cait the Great. She worked with Wanderlust Festivals in 2016 to bring pop-up shops to a number of city stops and last year served as a studio partner, putting together a tour guide for mindfulness seekers in her hometown of Minneapolis. Her mantra for her career, one she still relies on heavily today, is Create the grace: “It’s my way of saying, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world,’” she says.
Since February 2017, she’s been channeling her artistic vision as the founder of Sacred Space, a Minneapolis wellness sanctuary where practitioners can try a range of offerings such as energy work, sound baths, reiki, and crystal healing. Oh, and there’s plenty of yoga and meditation—about 20 classes per week—with limited sessions held in an adjacent yurt, an old storage facility that she rescued and gave new life. Gottschalk takes design cues from worldly artifacts such as Moroccan rugs and Joshua Tree’s minimalist landscape (she fell in love with the park as a kid on family vacation). Warm white walls create an easy canvas for her rotating collection of crystals, textiles, and singing bowls. “I find the most joy in integrating found objects with alive elements—like flowers, fresh incense, and handcrafted oil blends—that activate your senses and pull you into the present moment,” she says.
Cop her style
1. Be tidy: “It’s amazing how much more light can come into a space when you keep it clean,” Gottschalk says. “The more you show it that you care, the more it will reflect that back to you.”
2. Invoke the senses: “I almost always have a candle burning to bring life into the studio and the record player going while people are checking in. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek, but there’s something about a record player that’s so distinctly human,” she says.
See also A Yoga Playlist That’ll Leave You Feeling Fearless
3. Keep it moving: “I switch things up—the crystals, design elements, the altar—with the seasons,” says Gottschalk. “It’s a way to liven and refresh.”
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A cooling eye mask is one of the best ways to quickly relieve pain and gently relax you whether you are struggling with swollen and itchy eyes, stress, or headaches (perfect for those long yoga teacher training days). Most designs use either gel or gel beads encased in smooth plastic or soft cotton designed to hold their cool temperature for extended periods of time. To make sure you choose the right eye mask for you, we’ve put together a guide to our favorite picks.
Best for Sleeping: IMAK Compression Pain Relief Mask and Eye Pillow
Most eye masks are encased in plastic (even latex – a potential allergen) that rests directly on your eyes. This choice is made from a soft and breathable cotton-lycra blend that will gently conform to your face. This mask’s stitching, built with migraine sufferers in mind, is designed not to put direct pressure on your eyes as well. The cute design even blocks out light to allow for undisturbed meditation or sleep. Note: When cooling this mask, be sure to put it in a plastic container to keep it from absorbing freezer smells. Ding: True cold sensation doesn’t last much longer than 15 minutes, say some testers. $13; Buy Now
Best Reversible: Ice Eye Mask by FOMI Care
Most masks are either soft cloth (providing greater comfort) or vinyl (allowing more direct contact with your eyes), but this dual-sided mask does double-duty. The mask’s wide shape also makes it perfect for use on strained arm or leg muscles. This simple and comfortable design is available in either a gel bead or a clay pack. Tip: the clay pack will hug your features more closely, while the gel bead pack will cool more quickly in the freezer. $10.99 (clay); $11.99 (gel beads); Buy Now
Best On-The-Move: Kimkoo Gel Eye Mask
Most eye masks are made for those trying to relax and stay stationary, but this thin and inconspicuous mask doesn’t cover your eyes and can be worn during virtually any activity. If you relax by reading or scrolling on your phone (just set your phone to night screen mode first!), this is the perfect choice for you. Because this mask uses gel instead of cooling beads, it will rest flat on your face. And an adjustable strap will ensure that the mask stays firmly in place even if you are on the move. Best of all, if your mask breaks Kimkoo’s lifetime warranty will replace it for you. $8.98; Buy Now
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