Ah, January, you temperamental wench. A month that starts with the highest of hopes can easily slip into winter misery and failed resolutions. It’s no big surprise that, according to a recent Nielsen study, over 67% of people resolved to exercise more in 2020.
And this is a terrific goal. Exercise reduces blood pressure, promotes heart health, and reduces stress.
But it’s also hard to exercise in January. The days are short, the weather sucks, and the gyms are absolutely PACKED.
With all of these factors, it’s easy to pull on those sweatpants more for lounging than exercising, but what about exercise you can do at home with little to no equipment? For this, I recommend yoga.
Yoga is a practice focused on mindfulness, spiritual growth, physical movement, and self-care. While at first glance taking up yoga can seem expensive—the trendy clothes, the designer mats and props, the costly classes—but none of these things are mandatory!
The internet is overflowing with free yoga videos, with tons of variety and levels of skills. No mat? No problem. While a mat does help add a bit of cushioning and traction, it is by no means a necessity. You can practice with whatever floor space you can manage (and for some of us, that’s a very small amount of space).
The other amazing part of implementing yoga in your exercise routine is that it can be as gentle or as rigorous as you like. You can start exactly where you are, focusing on breathing, gaining a bit of flexibility, building strength… it’s dealer’s choice! No matter how beginner, there’s a practice for you. All it takes is an open mind, patience with yourself, and 30-60 minutes to move your body.
And listen, ya girl has some wicked ADHD. With my brain constantly buzzing, I used to scoff at the idea of mindfulness and meditation, something impossible for my busy brain to do. And, honestly, trying to do a sitting meditation still usually feels impossible, but, the combination of breath and movement in yoga really helps stimulate me just enough that I can be a bit more present, more aware, and more mindful. It’s far from perfect, and 90% of the time I’m going through the physical movements and thinking about my to-do list or 100 other irrelevant things. But the point is, I’m trying. I’m setting aside time to move my body, take deep breathes, and indulge in that delightful endorphin rush that physical activity gives us.
Some of my favorite sites for free yoga videos include:
Yoga by Candace— Candace is super positive, calming, and has an insane amount of videos for any level. I particularly love her 30-day series that each have a different focus that allows you to build up a routine. She also offers tips on combining yoga with other cardio and HIIT programs.
Yoga with Tim— Tim. Sweet Tim. Do I sometimes get distracted by his precious face and end up just watching him do yoga? Yes. Do I still count this as exercise? Also yes. Tim has a great Foundations Series on his YouTube channel that is a great starting point for a beginner (or a great way to build on your basics for more advanced practitioners). He’s like a ray of sunshine on your grayest January day.
Yoga with Adriene— My mom introduced me to Adriene’s practices. Another great resource of free videos, she also is launching a 30 day Home Yoga Journey, all about building up the basics or diving deeper into your practice from the comfort of your home!
Now, what goes better with a nice exercise endorphin rush and all our new mindfulness?
Romance novels (duh).
Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
One of my favorite historical romances, Hello Stranger follows the lives of Dr. Garrett Gibson (we stan a female doctor) and Ethan Ransom (who gives us hella 007 vibes). I absolutely love the pair, and while their physical activity of choice is a slightly more rigorous fencing lesson, they definitely practice some, shall we say, mindfulness in the bedroom (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn
While there isn’t any yoga in this one either, our heroine, Meg, is full of self-awareness. She’s an acclaimed hand-letter with booming business, and a huge case of artistic block. She forges an unlikely friendship (AND ROMANCE BECAUSE WE LOVE ALL THE KISSING) with former client, Reid Sutherland. A huge theme throughout the novel is Meg’s introspection on her art and creativity, and all of the elements that go into keeping one’s mind fresh and eager to create. This journey also overlaps in the ways she becomes conscious of what she wants in life and relationships, and directly asking for those things.