Hey! Here’s How to Start Practicing Yoga

Starting yoga seems simple, right?
Just find a class.
Just look for an online channel.
Just put on the yoga pants.
Just do it!

There isn’t necessarily a right way to begin yoga, but there are definitely some things to consider if you’re going to stick with yoga for more than a class or two. Let’s look at a few.

First, always talk to your doctors before you begin any new practices. This isn’t just legal jargon that yoga teachers should say. Yoga involves standing, sitting, stretching, and bending. This should be taken into consideration, especially for people who:

  • are taking blood pressure medication
  • have diabetes or a heart condition
  • have high-risk pregnancy complications.

Your doctors know what is best for your specific health situation, so the first step is talking things over with your team of medical professionals.

Another thing to consider is that there are different types of yoga. You may have seen words like vinyasa, yin, hot, ashtanga, or restorative in the descriptions for yoga classes. Yoga classes vary between platforms, styles, and teachers. It can take a while to find your groove, but the good news is that with so much diversity, there is space for you. Don’t give up. Your yoga community will be stronger because you are there, and you will be stronger because of your community. Here is an article that breaks down the different styles of yoga. You may find this helpful when looking for a yoga teacher or a yoga class. Most of all, be your own advocate. Ask questions. Be sure that any yoga teacher is transparent with you about their training and the scope of their yoga practice before you take their class.

The final thing to consider is your goal.
What is your intention?

  • Maybe it is physical: you want to stretch out your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and build stronger bones.
  • Maybe it is mental: you want to bring clarity or awaken deeper awareness.
  • Perhaps it’s for spiritual reasons like being transformed by the renewing of your mind, or being conformed to the virtues you hold as core values.
  • It could also be social: a strong yoga community is deeply encouraging source of peace and joy!

    Solitude, journaling, or conversing with a friend are great ways to identify your bigger why for beginning yoga and identifying your intentions. Setting your goal will help you connect with yourself, find your teacher, and connect with your yoga community.

So Sarah, what type of yoga do you teach?

I teach hatha yoga that is slow-paced, gentle, and restful. There are elements of yin and restorative postures as well as mindful meditation. I offer modifications throughout class. Each class is different, literally, every time I teach! I do not use scripts. I ask students how they are feeling and tailor the asana for what they want to focus on. In group classes, I generally theme around physiological elements like stretching the muscles of the shoulders or hips while being mindful of virtual elements like peace and rest.

Because yoga is so multi-faceted, there is simply no way for me to teach every type of yoga. Hatha is generally a preferred style of yoga for people with limited mobility, people with special health considerations such as injuries or pregnancy, or beginners who may find a fast pace intimidating. I am a trauma informed yoga teacher who offers a safe space for everyone to practice.

Here are some things I can not do. I am not a licensed healthcare provider or yoga therapist. I do not accept insurance, offer medical advice, or converse about diet or mental health. I do not offer physical adjustments, sound therapy, essential oils, or aromatherapy. These are outside of my scope of practice.

Personally, I have practiced yoga for almost 20 years. Everything I bring into a yoga class stems from my personal daily yoga practice. As a Registered Yoga Teacher® with Yoga Alliance, I have completed hundreds of hours of training that are dedicated to the safe and ethical practice of yoga for healthy individuals. HERE is my resume.

Currently, I teach privately, and I offer group classes. I am humbled and grateful that my home community for teaching group classes is with the YMCA of the Triangle. The YMCA provides more than a workout; YMCA leadership is committed to providing classes that will help you grow stronger mentally, physically, and socially. We have state of the art facilities, and our trainers are life-long learners who welcome everyone. If you are looking for a diverse and inclusive community, the YMCA of the Triangle will provide an opportunity that is tailored to your personal goals .

Email me to learn more about private instruction, or you may find my group class schedule here.

Peace, Shalom, and Namaste


You are tired. Yoga and mindfulness can help.

I just can’t seem to think straight today.
I have too many irons in the fire.
I’m sorry I forgot; I was burning the midnight oil.
Her name is on the tip of my tongue; it’s there. Give me a second.
I can’t handle that right now; I have too many tabs opened in my brain.

Sound familiar? Your body runs involuntary processes all day long. These include memory, digestion, respiration, hormone regulation, and other processes that you don’t really see or think about unless something seems out of balance. But your body can also fall into “auto-pilot” with processes that you do see, such as waking up and walking straight to the sink to brush your teeth, walking in the front door and tossing your keys in the basket, or petting your dog when she brushes against your leg.

When our body experiences stress, it is designed to fight, flee, or freeze. The sympathetic nervous system takes the reigns. Our heartbeat might increase, our breathing might be come more rapid. Suddenly, we may experience stomach discomfort or tense muscles in our jaw, neck, and shoulders. Practicing yoga can help notice how our body feels, what it needs… or what it doesn’t. Through mindfulness, we can begin to see patterns between stimuli, what we think, and how we feel.

When we develop a habit of consistently functioning in the sympathetic nervous system, our bodies recalibrate to keep us alive. Signs that a person might be operating from the sympathetic nervous system can include:

  • abundance of cortisol production, adrenal fatigue, and weight gain
  • inability to down-regulate and fall asleep or stay asleep (insomnia)
  • fatigue, brain fog, difficulty concentrating, or decreased ability to recall facts

Fortunately, our bodies are remarkable! Practicing yoga methods for just 8 weeks can help you achieve better sleep.  Better sleep can help your body achieve the restoration it needs to move closer toward functioning from the parasympathetic nervous system.

Join me for a yoga class! We’ll practice

  • yoga asanas (poses) and breathing to promote relaxation
  • mindfulness meditation
  • bringing awareness to our habits

New Blog Series: Yoga & Cancer

I’m devoting some of my blog posts to bringing mindful awareness to cancer. How we think about cancer is a lot more important than most of us probably realize, and it’s time we started talking about it. Here’s why.

I have found that most people don’t really want to talk about cancer at all unless [or until] they have to. But at the same time, when people are diagnosed with cancer, they often wonder how it happened, why it happened to them, if it was just a genetic predisposition, or if they could have done more to prevent it. Given the option between burying our heads in the sand or being proactive, we stand to gain a lot more by being educated, intentional, and mindful in our fight. So let’s talk.

I’ll go ahead and remind you that I am not a doctor or a nurse. I don’t pretend to be. I cannot tell you anything diagnostic, and I won’t be recommending anything like courses of treatment. But I hope that as we become more comfortable talking about cancer, it will take away some of the taboo that frightens us from seeking important health care screenings that could save our life. I also hope it helps us tell others about cancer support that they may not know exists, like my oncology yoga classes.

Here’s what I will be covering:

  • Data on Yoga & Cancer Prevention
  • Integrative Health Care for Cancer Patients
  • Yoga for Those in Remission from Cancer
  • How Cancer Affects Caregivers & Communities

I hope you’ll join me!

Free Yoga Class for NC State Day of Giving

Whether it’s by making a gift or spreading the word, we can all help support the Wolfpack on the NC State Day of Giving. In lieu of paying for your Crosswork yoga class on March 24th, please consider giving to NC State University https://dayofgiving.ncsu.edu/ 

Our Crosswork Yoga Class for the Pack will be loads of fun and feature:

  • an invigorating, 30-minute yoga asana to start your day
  • access to the spring issue of Crosswork magazine
  • a desk reference .pdf of seated yoga that you can do at your desk
  • 20% off of your next Crosswork yoga class

Wear RED and join us in giving back on the NC State Day of Giving so the Pack can continue to prepare future leaders to tackle the world’s biggest problems.

This sign-up has expired.

5 Reasons Why Your Health is a Certain Investment

I continue to read the word “uncertain” in headlines– whether the articles relate to the economy, politics, employment, travel, conferences, our culture, or the future of humanity. Highly emotive words, especially in repetition, have an impact on our perception of the world around us, our health, and our well-being.

Take a moment to reflect on the things for which you can be certain. Here are just a few:

  • You are important.
  • There is only one you, and you matter to more people than you will ever know.
  • You may feel exhausted, but you’re still here. That makes you resilient.
  • Paying attention to your health mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually is time well spent.
  • Considering others, listening to them, and humbly asking encouraging people to help you grow are noble and worthy pursuits. Seek out encouraging friendships, and invest in being an encouraging friend to others.

The bottom line: you can be CERTAIN that investing in taking care of yourself and those around you is a good investment– today and in the future.

Invest in yourself today!
Email me to learn more about Crosswork.