Lara Van Oerle

Lara Van Oerle

Journey To Zen

The 5 best YouTube channels for YOGA

The 5 best YouTube channels for YOGA

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The 5 best YouTube channels for YOGA

If you love yoga as much as I do, you just want to practice every day. But unfortunately, sometimes there is just not enough time to make it to the studio. And studio classes are not that cheap either! So if you ran out of money, or time, YouTube can be the answer. It’s free and available 24/7, so you’ll never have to go a day without yoga anymore!

There is an endless amount of free yoga classes. You’ll find different teachers, different yoga styles, short or long videos, … whatever you are looking for, chances are you’ll find it on YouTube.

I’ve made a selection of my 5 favourite yoga channels. I always keep coming back to these YouTube yogis! They are consistent in uploading new content and always hit that sweet yoga spot.

1. Boho Beautiful

This is my all time favourite channel! If you are sick of your boring hometown, you can join Boho Beautiful all over the world. Juliana and her partner travel around the globe together and shoot on the dreamiest beaches. Each video is filmed in a beautiful #holidaygoals location. Most videos are between 5-20 minutes long.

Usually I do 3-4 videos, so all together I’ve had a one-hour practice. There are videos for beginners, intermediate and advanced practitioners.

Most yoga classes are a mix of Vinyasa yoga and Pilates. This combo makes the classes a little bit more challenging than your average yoga class. After a few weeks you will notice your body becoming more and more toned.

She also has a few yin-yoga videos if you are looking for something more relaxing.

2. Silke Dewulf

Silke is a Belgian yogi who recently moved to the UK. I first discovered her through Instagram, where she posts inspirational pictures and captions, usually about yoga. On her YouTube channel she posts yoga flows, self-love videos, vlogs and vegan food tutorials.

Most of her yoga classes are a little bit longer. Usually between 30 and 50 minutes. I absolutely love her strong, dynamic, vinyasa flows. She also has a few yoga challenges, and a self-love challenge on her channel. She reccently created a seperated account just for yoga videos which is called The Yoga Flow.

I’ve done almost all of her yoga classes and can really recommend them! If you like to get a lot of cues and explanation about the poses, you’ll love this channel!

3. Alo Yoga

If you don’t know Alo Yoga yet, it’s time you get to know them! Alo Yoga is actually a clothing brand that sells the most beautiful yoga clothes. They are really popular in the United States and in the online world. Alo Yoga uses a lot of insta-famous yogis to promote their brand and clothes. These yogis teach all of the yoga classes on the Alo YouTube channel!

This is great for us because we can get to know a lot of different yoga styles. Each yoga teacher has their own unique way of sharing the yoga vibes. So if you like to change it up reguraly, try this YouTube channel!

Alo Yoga offers lots of 30-day challenges on their YouTube channel. These are perfect if you need that extra dose of motivation, or if you want to integrate yoga in your daily life.

4. The Journey Junkie

Ally takes her time explaining the postures, moves at a slower pace, and encourages you to modify or take rest. When you choose to practice with her, you will cultivate strength on the mat, but also off the mat integrating yoga into your daily life.

She offers a lot of videos relating to the chakras, and that’s how I discovered her channel. I absolutely love these videos. If you are looking for more than just a physical practice, this YouTube channel is for you!

5. Yoga with Adriene

Adriene is the most well known yogi on YouTube. When you type ‘yoga’ in the search box, chances are the whole first page is filled with her videos. And that’s because she offers great, consistent yoga classes!

Adriene has got you covered with all sorts of yoga classes. Yoga for runners, cosy yoga, yoga for backpain, … Anything you can think of, Adriene created a yoga class for it.

She has a very down to earth approach. Nothing to complicated in her classes! This makes Yoga with Adriene perfect for beginners.

 

So those are my 5 favourite yoga YouTube channels! I hope you like them as much as I do. When I started my yoga journey I did a lot of YouTube classes. It helped me to get to know a lot of different yoga styles in the comfort of my own home. And maybe even better, in the comfort of my pyjamas (no bra needed, hehe).

Gradually I improved my yoga knowledge and my flexibility. The online classes unfortunately don’t come with the big community feeling. This is one of the reasons why I would not only practice online. But these channels are definitely a great addition to your yoga practice!

What are your favourite yoga YouTube channels? Let me know in the comments!

5 tips for your first yoga class

5 tips for your first yoga class

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5 tips for your first yoga class

Going to a place you’ve never been before, or trying something for the 1st time is always a little bit scary. You don’t know what to expect and definitely don’t want to do something wrong, or come across as the ‘weird one’. These fears or worries can create some unnecessary stress. And the last thing you want to be during a yoga class is stressed! Because otherwise what’s the point, right?

That’s why I’ve listed 5 things you should know before you go to your first yoga class. I’m just giving you some tips and tricks so you’ll arrive feeling totally confident and ready for your new experience.

 

Information, information, information

Thank god it’s the 21st century and we have the World Wide Web, right at our fingertips. So let’s make use of that big pool of information that’s out there!

Most yoga studio’s will have a website or a Facebook page on which you can find lots of information about their opening hours, prices, what to bring, timetables, photos, … So first of all take a good look there.

Do you like what you see? Do you like the vibe? Do you see yourself practicing there?

‘If you are choosing a yoga studio or a yoga class it’s important that you feel a connection with the values and the vibe of the studio.’

What’s equally (or even more) important is that it is achievable for you to practice there on a regular basis. A studio, on the other side of town, commuting for 40 minutes, … Chances you’ll stay there, not so high. $50 dollars for a class, no thanks! So take a look at your schedule and bank account and pick a studio that matches your lifestyle. This will make it so much easier for you to integrate yoga in your day-to-day life.

Another very important aspect to consider is the type of yoga you are going to practice. If you don’t know what yoga style would suit you best, don’t worry, click here and find out! So once you’ve found out what type of yoga meets your needs, make sure the studio you want to go to offers that yoga style on a regular basis! Another great tip is to find a yoga studio that offers different styles of yoga, so once you feel more comfortable, you can start exploring what each different yoga style has to offer.

If you still have specific questions you can always call or email the yoga studio you want to go to. Normally you can find the contact details under the ‘contact’ area on their website. They will be happy to answer your questions and give recommendations for beginners.

 

What do I have to wear? 

Now you know where and what yoga class you want to do, you can prepare yourself for your first class. So, what do you have to wear? This is usually one of the first questions that come to mind, when going to an unfamiliar place.

There are a few tips I can give you when it comes to a yoga outfit.

First of all, and most important is that you feel comfortable in the clothes you are wearing. There is nothing worse than feeling stuck and self-conscious in your clothes.

The second tip is to wear clothes that allow you to move freely. Imagine going upside down, doing all kinds of poses that involve stretching, etc. Skinny jeans are definitely not the best option, if you know what I mean (Unless you want to go for the ripped jeans look, of course ;-)). Best is to choose for stretchy shorts or leggings and a tight top. If you wear loose and baggy clothes, they will slide off when you are showing of your best downward facing dog.

And if it’s not for your own comfort, fitted clothes are also helpful for the yoga teacher. That way she can see your form and whether or not you need some adjustments.

The third and last thing to know is that you don’t wear shoes while doing yoga. Usually shoes are not even allowed in the studio. Some studios will ask you to put your shoes on a shoe rack outside of the yoga room. No need to arrive in fancy sneakers. Barefoot is what it is all about when it comes to yoga.

If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll easily blend in with the other yogi’s and feel your best while doing those new poses.

 

What to bring?

Most studios will have all the props you need like a yoga mat, blocks, straps, and blankets. Usually they are free of charge, but in some studio’s you pay $1 to lend a yoga mat. So make sure to check this in advance on their website.

If you already have a mat feel free to bring your own! Lots of yoga practitioners have their own mat and bring it with them to the studio. I always bring my own mat, since a lot of yoga mats from the studio are not the best quality and slippery when wet (this will happen if you sweat!!).

So now we are talking about sweat, it’s a good idea to bring a towel with you. You won’t always need it, because it depends on how intense the yoga class will be, but if you do, you’ll be happy you brought one!

Something that I will never forget to bring is a bottle of water. Hydration is so important and if you have a bottle right next to you, you’ll be able to sip during class and rehydrate your body. Side note: use a reusable stainless steel bottle instead of a plastic one, and you’ll help save the planet while doing yoga! (Oww yeah, earning some good karma points!).

And then there is one more thing; but I should call it; what not to bring? And that’s your telephone. Nothing more disturbing than lying all relaxed in savasana when suddenly someone’s ringtone scares the hell out of you (make sure your are not that person!!). So there are two things you can do: 1. Leave your phone at home, or 2. Put your phone in silent mode. Everyone will thank you for it.

 

To eat or not to eat?

It is recommended not to eat 2-3hours before you do a yoga class. Practicing any sports with a full stomach is usually uncomfortable. In yoga there are a lot of poses that include twists and inversions that will put pressure on your stomach. The last thing you want is to see your dinner again, on your mat.

But that being said, it’s not always possible not to eat such a long time before yoga. In that case I would recommend only eating a snack or a small portion of your dinner, and leaving the rest for after your class.

This way you will feel most comfortable and get the most out of your yoga practice.

 

Be on time!

When you go to a new space for the first time it’s always recommended to come a little bit earlier. You have never done the commute to the studio before so you don’t really know if there is going to be a lot of traffic, 10 red lights, no available parking spots, and so on.

The last thing you want is to get stressed because you don’t know if you will be on time. The goal of yoga is to de-stress! So make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to the studio. I would recommend to be there at least 15minutes before the class starts.

Usually you will have to fill in some paperwork, create a membership or pay for the class, which takes some additional time.

When you arrive early the teacher will have time to have a chat with you and show you around the studio. This is also a great moment for you to ask any questions or let the teacher know if you have any injuries.

The last reason to be on time is to make sure you can get a spot in the middle of the room. This way you will be able to look at fellow yogis when the teacher is not demonstrating any of the poses. If you are in the front, this won’t be so easy!

 

Ready for your first class

Now you know these 5 tips, you will be able to come fully prepared to your first yoga class!

As a final tip I want to encourage you to fully enjoy all the benefits yoga has to offer.

Let go of self-judgement & comparison. Try to come in with a beginners mind and leave your expectations at the door. In a yoga class you don’t have to do anything. The teacher will be giving modifications; so don’t be afraid to take them!

Yoga is not about who has the best downward facing dog, or tree pose. If at any point during the class you need a break, feel free to take childspose for as long as you want. This is your practice and no one will judge you for taking a break! So listen to your body, and have fun!

 

Do you remember your first yoga class? How was it? Let me know in the comments below! And if you have some additional tips, feel free to share them!

What’s the right yoga style for you?

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What’s the right yoga style for you?

When you are new to yoga and want to try a class for the first time, the schedule at your local yoga studio or gym can be a little bit overwhelming. Should I try Vinyasa or Yin? Probably these names won’t even ring a bell. How do you pronounce that?? What yoga is not just stretching??? What’s the right yoga style for you? Let’s figure that out together!

There are many different yoga styles out there, some really intense, other more gentle or spiritual. But no worries, I’ve got you covered. Keep on reading and you’ll learn more about some of the most common yoga styles out there. Now you can choose a class that will suit your needs. And once you get more experienced I encourage you to try as many styles as possible! Because there is no such thing as to much yoga, right?

Vinyasa yoga

Perfect for: regular and experienced yoga practitioners, if you love to get a good sweat, challenge-lovers, switching things up

If you want to get your heart pumping, Vinyasa is the perfect option for you! You’ll gracefully flow from one posture to the next on the rhythm of your breath. The connection between movement and the breath is key in this style of yoga.

Vinyasa originated from the Ashtanga yoga style. While in Ashtanga classes you do the same poses over and over again. Vinyasa teachers can express their creativity, which makes every class unique and keeps things interesting. So if you love variation and like to try a lot of different postures, look no further. Vinyasa classes are known for raising your heart rate and can be the perfect way to test your physical limits.

Vinyasa is not recommended for beginners because it’s high paced. If you learn the postures at a slower pace with more focus on correct alignment, you’ll feel much more confident when you do take that vinyasa class.

Iyengar yoga

Perfect for: beginners, people with injuries, perfectionists, anatomy lovers

B.K.S. Iyengar is the founder of Iyengar yoga. This style has a big focus on correct alignment. You’ll hold postures for a long time while adjusting and getting to know the precise movements of each pose. During classes you will learn to work with lots of props like blocks, bolsters, belts, etc which will all help you to get perfectly in the correct postition!

There is a big emphasis on safety, so these classes are perfect for people with injuries and beginners. While you won’t get your heart rate up, you will be challenged because of the long holds (hellooooo legs).

Hatha yoga

Perfect for: beginners, if you want to feel zen and relaxed

Hatha yoga is a Sanskrit word that refers to the physical practice of yoga. So technically all styles where you do the physical yoga poses are hatha yoga (which are most classes in the West).    

When you see a Hatha class on the schedule it usually means that the class is slower paced, and gentle on the body. If you are a beginner this is the perfect yoga style for you! You’ll get a great introduction to the basic poses without feeling overwhelmed.

Ashtanga yoga

Perfect for: regular and experienced yoga practitioners, routine lovers, type-A peeps, if you like to get sweaty

If you like routine and strict guidelines, you found the yoga style for you! Ashtanga consists of six series. The yoga poses are specifically sequenced and are always the same. So you’ll never be surprised in an Ashtanga class! Which is something some people love, and others not so much.

The sequence is challenging and will leave you covered in sweat. As in Vinyasa yoga, you’ll move through it guided by your breath.

Power yoga

Perfect for: experienced yoga practitioners, if you want to take your practice to the next level, handstand lovers

Power yoga is a vigorous, fitness-like style of yoga. You can expect quick movements and transiations, followed by lots of strengthening poses. If you like to go upside down, this is the place to practice your handstands, headstands and other more advanced poses.

This style of yoga is recommended for more experienced yogis who want to take their practice to the next level. If you like variety, you will not be dissapointed because teachers create their own sequences, so no class will be the same!

Bikram yoga

Perfect for: all levels of practitioners, routine lovers, people who like it hot, detoxifying

If you want to be covered in sweat after a yoga class, we have a match! Bikram Choudhury created Bikram yoga about 30 years ago.

This yoga style consists of a specific series of 26 poses, that you will perform twice each. As you move through this set routine the yoga teacher will shout out all the poses and ques. There are also 2 breathing exercises included in the 90minute long practice. The class is held in a heated room set to 35-42 degrees Celsius with 40% humidity. Bonus tip: don’t forget your water bottle and towel!

Hot yoga

Perfect for: regular and advanced yogis, sweat lovers, if you want to switch things up

Hot yoga is very similar to Bikram because it’s practiced in a heated room. The biggest difference between the two is that the yoga teachers don’t perform the set Bikram sequence. Each yoga practice will be different. Yoga teachers can get creative in their sequences, but generally hot yoga is more suitable for regular to advanced practitioners.
PS: don’t forget your towel.

Yin yoga

Perfect for: all levels of practitioners, stretching, deep muscle relaxation

Yin yoga is the perfect style of yoga to calm the body and the mind. Key to yin yoga is that you will hold seated poses for several minutes at a time. This allows the connective tissues and muscles to completely relax and lengthen.

Props like blankets and bolsters are used to make you feel fully comfortable. There is no need to engage any muscles; this practice is all about releasing and let gravity do its work. Sometimes the poses will feel uncomfortable the first minute, until your body let’s go over time, with some help from the breath. The focus in yin yoga lies more on the meditative aspect. That’s why after a yin yoga class you will feel totally zenned out!

Restorative yoga

Perfect for: all levels of practitioners, people with injuries, stressed out gals, winding down

If you want to slow down and experience deep relaxation, a restorative yoga class is the place to be! In this practice you will move slow and hold poses for a longer period of time. This will give your body the chance to wind down. You will literally restore your energy, and bring your body back to balance in this class.

Restorative yoga classes use a lot of props so your body can fully relax into the poses. Bolsters, blankets and eye pillows will become your new best friends. Restorative yoga helps to cleanse the mind and let go of all your worries (stress, what’s that??).

Kundalini yoga

Perfect for: all levels of practitioners, everyone who is into the woo-woo, strengthening the core

Kundalini yoga is known for its big emphasis on spiritually. The goal of this practice is to release the trapped Kundalini energy at the bottom of the spine. By doing yoga poses, breath work, chanting, using mantras and meditation you will balance the energy centres in the body. This allows the trapped energy to move up the spine.

Kundalini yoga increases mental clarity and raises your consciousness.

Prenatal yoga

Perfect for: (yes you guessed it!) pregnant women

Prenatal yoga is created to help future moms connect with their baby and get them prepared for pregnancy. It’s also a great way to keep moving your body in a safe way during pregnancy. You can do prenatal yoga throughout all trimesters. You will be doing pelvic floor work, gentle stretching, modified yoga postures, a lot of breathing exercises and bond with your baby during practice.
Classes are also a great way to connect with other pregnant women who are going to the same experiences as you!

Hopefully you feel confident now in choosing your first class, or learned something more about the different yoga styles! Yoga is such a beautiful practice, and each style has its own purpose and benefits. So even after you’ve found your favourite style make sure to switch it up once in a while. That way you can keep growing and evolving your yoga practice!

What’s your favourite yoga style? Let me know in the comments below!

My story: How I got into yoga

How I got into yoga

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My story: How I got into yoga

Yoga takes us on a wonderful journey through our body and soul. The practice had such an amazing impact on my overall life! If I wouldn’t have come across yoga, I just know my life would look totally different today! So that’s why I want to share with you how I got into yoga.

Before I got into yoga…

I was not always so passionate about wellness and yoga as I am today.

In my teenage years I was lost and didn’t really felt like I belonged somewhere. Like most teenage girls I was looking for my place in this world and figuring out who I was.

In school I wasn’t particularly good at math, languages or biology. But in grade 9 we had to pick a subject, and I chose Human Sciences. Thank god I chose that subject (my dad tried to convince me to do maths!) because finally I was excelling in something. I was getting A’s for behavioural science, cultural science, … and finally felt I was really good at something.

Although I was doing well at school, my health was definitely not my priority. During adolescence I developed an unhealthy relationship with food and was struggling with poor self-image and my confidence was below zero. In the meantime I started to go to the gym, in the beginning with friends, but when they quitted one by one, I kept on going. It gave me energy and made me feel good about myself.

This was my first encounter with the fitness and wellness industry, and it instantly just felt right with me.

The college years

When I graduated from high school I decided to go to college and do a Bachelor in Psychology. I loved college and enjoyed every second of it! But I was definitely not living the healthiest life style. Partying the night away, binge drinking and going to bed at 5AM was a regular. I kept going to the gym to ‘keep the balance’. Working out didn’t come from a place of love for my body. I went to the gym out of fear to gain weight.

Because I was working out so often I wanted to switch it up a little bit, and that’s when I did my first BodyBalance class (hallelujah!). It was a mix of Yoga, Pilates and Thai Chi. I was hooked. The feeling I got at the end of the class during savasana was sooo good. I think I never felt so relaxed in my life before. Finally I experienced some peace and quiet in my mind. This was my first experience with yoga. After these classes I felt reborn. I knew I wanted more.

From then on I started to do more and more yoga. Mostly I practiced at home with some YouTube videos (check out my 5 favourite yoga Youtube channels). When I felt down, I did yoga, and it made me feel better. After a while I started going to a real yoga studio. Every time I rolled out my mat, my love for yoga grew stronger.

#Worklife

After I graduated and started work as a counsellor, life got pretty stressful. Suddenly I was dropped into the adult world. And I was not prepared. I had this idea that after college everything would automatically fall into place (oh boy was I wrong).

The jobs I had where amazing experiences, and I met the most wonderful people. But somehow I still felt restricted. I couldn’t express my creativity as much as I wanted to! There where so much rules, policies, and all kind of things that made me feel… not free. I thought there must be more to life than this.

Time for change

So when my replacement contract ended it was the perfect time to … move to Australia! Ow yessss, my boyfriend Phil and I where moving to the other side of the world. And at that time this was exactly what I needed. Gone was all the pressure to build the ‘perfect’ future with a stable job, a house, getting married, and all the other ‘normal’ stuff. Moving to another country, with another culture, where I knew nothing was exactly what I needed to do some deep soul searching. We tried new things every day. We worked on farms, lived in our car for a month and got to know so many different people from all over the world.

‘By becoming a yoga teacher I realised that you don’t have to live the life, society wants you to live’

During this time I did yoga almost every day. My self-practice was getting stronger and stronger. In my free time I was reading books about living a healthy lifestyle, yoga, mindfulness and meditation. That’s when I realised. If I’m so passionate about yoga, fitness and living a healthy lifestyle, why shouldn’t I try to make a career out of it?

Yoga all day every day

Becoming a yoga teacher seemed like the next logical step. After a lot of research I chose a 200hour yoga teacher training in Bali. I would definitely describe this as a life-changing event in my life! It felt like I was in heaven. Doing multiple yoga classes every day, learning about the yoga philosophy, being surrounded by like-minded people, and eating delicious food. A lot of yoga teachers describe their life as before and after teacher training, and I totally get this. I learned so much about yoga, meditation, and myself during this month. It made me a different person.

After my immersion I flew back to Australia. That’s when I realised that doing a yoga teacher training was only the start of this journey. As much as I would love to say that I instantly found the perfect yoga job, that’s not reality. I did find some great opportunities and am trying to become a better human and teacher each day. I’m trying to see struggles and challenges as new opportunities and blessings. My goal is to expand my comfort zone as wide as possible. Every day I see as a new chance to learn and grow. I’m on a journey now, and will be for the rest of my life. A journey to zen that is.

Living your dream life

By becoming a yoga teacher I realised that you don’t have to live the ‘normal’ life, society wants you to live. My mission is to live a life that I love, filled with wellness, freedom and -of course- yoga. And most of all I want to share my passion with others so they feel comfortable to be themselves and live the life of their dreams. Through my yoga classes and blog articles I want to show you that there is always opportunity for transformation and that yoga is more than only a physical practice.

What does your dream life look like? What is holding you back? I would love to know! Leave a comment below, and let’s have a chat