How To Get Started In Yoga
Yoga can be one of the best ways to start improving your physical and mental health, but it can seem intimidating if you’ve never tried it before.
Those pictures of super fit people bent into the shape of a pretzel can leave you thinking yoga is just for the flexible experts. Don’t let that stop you. Yoga can have enormous benefits for people of all ages and all levels of physical activity, and it’s easy to get started in yoga.
Whether you’re 4, 44 or 84 years old, you can use yoga to improve your flexibility, your respiration and your heart health, all while easing stress and calming your mind, so let’s get started in your yoga journey!
Patience And An Open Mind
The first thing you will need to get started in yoga is an open mind and a little patience.
Yoga is an ancient Hindu practice that is all about uniting your breath, your body and your mind. Yoga uses Sanskrit words to describe each stretch and pose, and there are specific ways each pose is meant to be held.
At first, this may seem daunting, but don’t worry. As long as you’re ready to learn, accept and go with the flow, you’ll find it’s actually as easy as breathing and stretching. You don’t have to remember all the words right away, and there’s no test. All you need to do at the beginning is relax, and follow the instructions.
The next thing you need is someone to guide you in your first yoga poses. For your first time, it’s best to get started with a yoga class for beginners. You don’t need to sign up for a year’s worth of classes; just one or two drop-in sessions with a qualified yoga instructor will give you a good understanding of the basics and teach you a handful of poses that you can do anywhere.
If there are no affordable yoga drop-in classes near you, there are plenty of good beginner DVDs or online videos available. Yoga builds on some basic principles that are good to understand right at the outset, and it’s important to learn the proper breathing technique from an expert.
It’s also helpful to get some guidance on your first poses in order to know how your body should feel when to breathe in, and when to breathe out. Once you have these fundamentals down, you can build on them with more classes, by watching more videos, or just by doing a little reading and practicing at home.
(Any Comfortable) Cloths Make The Yogi
Next, you will need something suitable to wear. One of the benefits of yoga is that you don’t need special clothing or equipment to do it. There are certainly plenty of specialized yoga accessories and yoga outfits available for sale, but all you really need to get started is some comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and an open space where you can move around and lie down. A pair of sweatpants and a loose t-shirt will do just fine.
Yoga is done barefoot, so there is no need for shoes and socks. You’ll also want to remove any jewelry, just so you can move without restrictions. If you’re on a gym floor or at home on hardwood, a yoga mat is also good idea for your comfort and safety.
Once you’re ready to start, the first thing you will need to focus on is your breathing. In yoga, it’s called pranayama, which means controlling your key life force: your breathing. In yoga, you take slow, deep breaths in through your nose, and you allow your belly to expand, filling your whole body with air. Then, you exhale slowly through your mouth.
You may think this sounds basic and obvious, but in reality, we breathe in and out in many different kinds of ways. Our breathing patterns can be shallow and uneven, or deep and gasping. We even hold our breath when we’re anxious or tense. These different kinds of breathing patterns can indicate to our bodies that we’re under stress or in danger. Yoga aims to relax your mind and your muscles with long, slow, even breaths, which is why focusing on your breathing patterns is so important.
And Take It Slow
Finally, the last advice you need before starting your yoga journey is to remember to take it slow. Yoga is not an aerobics class or a race; it’s not about feeling the burn. Slow and steady really does win in yoga. Your breathing should be slow and even. Your stretching should be slow and relaxing. You’re unlikely to hurt yourself by stretching incorrectly, but if you’re over-exerting yourself, you’re not getting the maximum benefit from yoga.
If you’ve got an open mind and a comfortable outfit, you’re ready to get started in the world of yoga, and you’ll begin enjoying some of the relaxing benefits right away.