I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible!
Does this sound like you? Does yoga seem intimidating? Don’t have the designer clothes or mat? No problem, none of these things are important in starting a yoga practice! The best way to start a yoga practice is to, well…. Start!
I’ve been practicing yoga for over 10 years and part of the allure is that I yoga still teaches me something every time I practice.
Any time is a good time to begin a practice but, there are a few things you should research and ask.
First, there are many different styles of yoga and every teacher and studio are different as well. It would be helpful to research a few different types of yoga to see which one resonates with you. In stating that, all styles of yoga may not be available in your area and while yoga DVD’s are great, they do not give you the instruction and attention that an instructor will. Call or visit the studio or instructor and ask questions.
Some questions you may want to ask are:
- What type of yoga do you teach at your studio?
- Are the classes suitable for beginners?
- How many people are in the classes? - The smaller the class the more one-on-one attention.
- Do they offer private lessons? – Private lessons allow you to get personal instruction tailored to your needs.
- What should you bring to class? -
Most places have yoga mats for you to rent but, it’s always better to bring your own. There are many different types of yoga mats also depending on your practice, starting out with a regular sticky mat, when your practice becomes regular you may want to invest in a better mat. As with most things, you get what you pay for! Also, bring a towel for sweat and water! Most studios will provide you with props such as blocks and straps to enhance your practice.
You should wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move in all directions. Clothes that are comfortable laying down and standing up! Clothes that stretch and won’t fall over your head in inversions! They don’t have to be the latest fashion, your old Ramones t-shirt and gym shorts will do just fine!
The best way to reduce injury is to take things slowly. Injuries in yoga usually occur due to 2 or 3 main reasons, poor instruction by the teacher (alignment matters), the student moving too quickly trying to “force” a pose to happen, feeling pushed by the teacher or not warming up properly.
When you show up for class, show up early at least 15 min. early to your first class so you can talk to the instructor, tell them any issues you may be having, physical or emotional. You may say EMOTIONAL, What? Yes, tell them what you are hoping to get out of the class, are you stressed out, anxious, tired, have chronic pain etc…
Also, show up hydrated and on an empty stomach. In yoga, twisting postures and inversions (postures where your head is below your heart) will not be pleasant if you’ve just eaten. The best guideline is to eat about 2 hours before you practice, and always empty your bladder before class.
New students to yoga always ask; how many days a week should I do yoga? My yoga teacher use to say, “you only do yoga on the days you eat!” Meaning, every day!!! Keeping that in mind, starting out if you can only make it once a week that’s great; start there then shoot for 3 times a week. Any amount of yoga is great!
I like to tell my new students I have 3 rules:
1. Don’t do anything that hurts.
3. Have fun!
Yoga may not be your cup of tea and that’s okay but, don’t give up after the first try. Any time you start anything new it will feel awkward at first. Did you just take off the first time you got on a bike? Probably not! Also, if you didn’t like it, try a different teacher, style of yoga or studio before you rule it out totally!
Make sure you enjoy the atmosphere of the studio; some are young, hip and sound like a disco, others are soothing and calm. Check out if they offer what you are looking for, for example a Hot yoga studio (yoga done in a hot room) may have the perk of showers. Are you looking for a fast pace new yoga craze, or a calming incense burning, water fountain flowing environment. Some studios incorporate spiritual practices as well as chanting, make sure you know what you are getting into and it’s what you are looking for. Also, be open to new things, you may find that you LOVE chanting, I do!
Read the instructors biography to see their qualifications, a good yoga instructor makes all the difference. A yoga teacher should ask you questions about your past and current injuries and activity level.
They will also walk the room to make enhancements and adjustments to insure you are in proper alignment.
A good instructor will offer modifications to keep you safe and allow you to experience the pose as is best for your body.
They will encourage you to listen to your body and breath. Always remember that everyone is built differently and no ones postures look and feel the same. Be there on the mat for the benefit of yourself!
Yoga is not just about the physical postures; a good practice will include some breathing and relaxation technique as well as the physical movements. The more you get into the practice the more you will want to learn.
Workshops and special classes are fun to explore those things when you are ready.
There are so many benefits to a yoga practice but, we’ll go into that another day! Over all yoga will stretch and strengthen your body and mind. Boosting creativity and self esteem.
A good yoga session will leave you refreshed, relaxed and energized and creating an environment for your soul to grow and your beauty to flourish!