What should I know before starting yoga?
My 75-year-old mom not too long ago started attending yoga courses close to my former hometown in New Jersey. This may increasingly effectively show that yoga is for everybody, and that it’s by no means too late to start a brand new observe!
Earlier than her top notch, my mother despatched me a collection of questions by way of textual content, reminding me of the significance of supporting new yogis as they start a brand new observe. It was additionally a reminder that what feels apparent to long-time college students and academics will not be wholly obvious to first-time college students.
In case you are new to yoga, learn on for 9 suggestions that will help you get began!
BEGIN WHERE YOU ARE
It’s an incredible thought to contact the studio the place you’ll observe to ask for a advice for a category that is applicable for you. Clarify your health historical past and allow them to find out about any accidents or limitations. Even with light courses, there are at all times variations amongst academics. The studio proprietor or supervisor may also help you discover your greatest start line.
Ideally, begin in a category particularly designed for newbies—the place you’ll study basis poses, alignment, and respiration fundamentals. Within the absence of a newbie’s class, I encourage all college students to begin in a delicate class. Mild courses transfer at a slower tempo, which can will let you comfortably study the postures and breath work.
For a lot of college students, light yoga will stay their major observe, whereas others will ultimately need extra bodily rigorous courses. Nevertheless it nearly at all times is sensible to tempo your self when studying a brand new self-discipline, relatively than speeding into a category you aren’t prepared for.
Within the absence of a newbie’s class, begin in a delicate class.
Attempt to arrive about 15 minutes earlier than the category begins. This provides you with time to get settled, find loos, and acclimate to the vitality of the area. Dashing into any yoga class can carry anxious vitality onto your mat. New college students to my courses usually confess to being nervous earlier than their top notch, which is completely regular. Strive to not add to newbie’s stress by operating late.
Make sure that to introduce your self and let your instructor know that you simply’re new to yoga. I at all times attempt to contact base with new college students and to ask about any bodily or emotional issues they’ve. Don’t be shy on this regard, because it’s in your greatest curiosity to talk up about your challenges. Your instructor can, for instance, provide useful modifications for sure postures.
CHOOSE A GOOD SPOT
After working for a few years within the subject of training, I’ve realize that gravitating to the again row of a category appears to be a pure inclination for many individuals.
Yoga courses aren’t any exception, and lots of new college students choose first for the again row. Nevertheless, relying on the structure of the studio and the variety of folks within the class, that may not be your best option. Moderately, be sure to put your mat the place you possibly can greatest hear and see the instructor.
SET AN INTENTION
Most yoga courses start with an opportunity to breathe and heart earlier than shifting by means of postures. The instructor may also introduce a theme or an intention for the category. Think about using this time to set your individual intention.
For instance, you might resolve to concentrate on respiration deeply all through the category, or to observe not judging your self or others. Providing gratitude for the chance to make use of yoga to care on your physique is one other method to floor your observe.
No matter your focus, name it to thoughts any time you want some inspiration or may merely use a reminder of your motive for coming to yoga class.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
One of the widespread cues in a yoga class is: “Take heed to your physique.” Once I was a brand new pupil, I wasn’t fairly positive what that meant. As you develop in your observe, nonetheless, your deepening connection to your physique will make it far simpler to take heed to it.
Within the meantime, simply do not forget that yoga shouldn’t damage. When you expertise any sharp ache, instantly pull again or return to what I name a “dwelling base” posture: little one’s pose, mountain, or simple seated.
You might discover new sensations, challenges, or openings in your physique. These are completely regular and helpful. When you’re ever doubtful whether or not what you’re feeling is protected, err on the facet of warning and are available out of the pose.
Moreover, use your breath as an indicator. In case your breath turns into ragged, unsteady, or you end up holding your breath, it may be an indication that you simply’ve exceeded your limits. Take a break and some deep breaths earlier than returning to your observe.
EYES ON YOUR OWN MAT
Once I was a highschool pupil, my 10th-grade English instructor requested me to remain after class in the future. She informed me that each time she handed again a paper or take a look at, I’d have a look at my grade after which instantly crane my neck to see everybody else’s.
“You’re going to make your self loopy in case you’re at all times evaluating your self to everybody else,” she informed me. Twenty years later, I nonetheless do not forget that sage recommendation.
Yoga just isn’t a contest. No grades are given. Nobody wins or loses. We observe progress, not perfection. So what in case your neighbor can sink extra deeply into her chair pose than you?
Maybe she’s been training longer, or her physique is constructed in a different way. Hold your eyes by yourself mat with the intention to concentrate on shifting by means of the category in a method that serves your physique and your wants.
Yoga just isn’t a contest. No grades are given. Nobody wins or loses. We observe progress, not perfection.
ENJOY YOUR SAVASANA
For a lot of college students, each first-time and long-term, savasana (closing relaxation pose) might be probably the most difficult posture of the category. Many people are used to being in fixed movement, and mendacity nonetheless with ourselves and our ideas, with no motion to distract us, could be a new expertise. Once more, simply begin the place you might be, and attempt to keep away from judging your expertise.
Many new college students additionally inform me that they expertise stress in savasana as a result of they’ll’t cease their ideas. However this concept that one should cease their ideas in savasana is a false impression.
Moderately than attempting to cease them, simply discover them, launch them, after which return your focus to your breath. You might get caught in lots of ideas throughout savasana; simply preserve returning to your breath and letting your physique soften into the mat every time.
KEEP COMING BACK
Yoga is a cumulative observe. With every class you are taking, its affect in your life will proceed to extend. I usually see folks’s faces gentle up after their top notch. But when yoga doesn’t click on for you immediately, give it a while. Strive totally different kinds of courses and totally different academics till you discover the precise match for you. With diligence and consistence, you will quickly start to reap yoga’s many presents!
My mother now not texts me with questions. Moderately, she sends messages of gratitude and pleasure for the teachings she’s studying and the presents she’s receiving from her common observe.
When you’re a newbie, benefit from the classes that come from studying one thing new. Honor your wants throughout the course of, search assist as you require it, and know that the whole lot occurs in its personal time.
How do I start practicing yoga at home?
Practising yoga at home has loads of benefits – it’s a great complement to studio classes,you can practise anywhere (within reason!), day or night, wear what you like and you don’t need much in the way of equipment. It’s also pretty inexpensive – free if you do a self-guided practice – and there’s no travel required.
Best of all, yoga at home teaches you to pay attention to your own body, to understand what it needs on any given day and practise in a way that supports you both physically, mentally and emotionally.
Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Get a mat and grab some props
One of the best things about yoga is that you don’t need much equipment. However, a mat and props can help your alignment and make some poses more comfortable.
When yoga first became prevalent in the West, yogis practised on towels or cotton mats; it wasn’t until around the 1980s that ‘sticky mats’ became more widely used.
Nowadays, the yoga mat and accessories industry is a booming business, with a huge array of choice to suit almost every requirement. To help you choose the best mat for you, read our Best yoga mat review. Yoga accessories can take up a bit of space (and cash) but you can easily substitute the real thing with common household items.
2. Make some space
If possible, try and find a place to practise that’s peaceful and quiet. Having a wall nearby might be helpful too but it’s not essential. Some people like to decorate their practice space with things like candles and incense, a photograph that inspires them or a quote, but the most important thing is that you have enough space to stretch out without bumping into tables, chairs, shelves etc. Also, you’re more likely to declutter your mind if the space you are practising in is also clutter-free.
3. Commit to a time and make it achievable
Consider what works best for you – are you a morning person or an evening person? Could you squeeze in some yoga on your lunch break? As for the ‘ideal’ length of time to practise, forget about whether your friend practises for an hour each day or what you think constitutes a ‘proper’ yoga practice and go with what works best for you. Perhaps start by making a commitment to practise for 10 minutes a day.
Alternatively, you could try blocking out a particular time on a certain day if that works better. The key is, it has to fit in with your life – if it doesn’t you won’t keep maintain it.
4. Watch out for the 3 Ps
Always honour your body’s boundaries and avoid pain, pinching and pushing. If you’re new to yoga it might be difficult to distinguish between pain and discomfort. Pain feels hot and sharp, whereas discomfort is more of a dull, nagging sensation. Generally speaking, STOP if it’s inside the joint structure (knees, spine, hips, neck, etc.) If you do feel pain, move gently rather than suddenly out of the pose. If you feel discomfort, perhaps you can soften or adjust or even use props to assist you.
It’s always advisable to warm up properly before attempting advanced poses and be especially mindful of the transitions between poses.
5. Plan and play
Another advantage of doing a home yoga practice, particularly if you’re doing an online class and your time is really stretched, is you can decide which class you’re going to do the day before so there’s no decision-making when you get on your mat. Set up the class on your laptop the night before, then all you have to do is hit Play.
6. Follow your body’s lead
If you’re used to following a particular sequence or type of class, just once a week close your laptop or book, get on your mat and do your own thing. This can feel really daunting at first but ignore that nagging worry that you won’t know what to do; yoga doesn’t need to be a seamlessly structured series of poses. Just get on your mat and wriggle around for five minutes doing what feels nice for your body, or perhaps just sit quietly.
Build up to it by adding your ‘freeform’ practice at the end of a shorter online class or sequence. Just pause the video before Savasana and restart it when you’re done if you prefer to be guided. Any time that you take to tune in to truly listen to your body and let it lead the way, rather than your mind, is yoga.
Any time that you take to tune in to truly listen to your body and let it lead the way, rather than your mind, is yoga.
7. Make it fun!
When you’re starting out, practise a class or sequence that you enjoy so you’ll have an incentive to roll out your mat. What about putting some music on or practising with friends? You could decide to do this physically and go to one another’s houses – or commit to doing an online class at the same time / day each week. This helps to keep you motivated and you can share your experiences.
8. Don’t forget about meditation and Pranayama
A home practice can be a great opportunity to build a meditation and pranayama practice – especially if your studio class doesn’t usually include time for it. Even five minutes of ujjayi breathing incorporated into your asana practice will leave you feeling more centered and relaxed. If you think you’re not a ‘meditation person’, this article may change your mind.
9. See it through
If you’re one of those people who seeks the “perfect” practice, know that it doesn’t exist! In practical terms, try not to spend the time you’ve allocated to yoga procrastinating (i.e. reading hundreds of class descriptions if you’re doing an online class, or flicking through sequences in a book).
When you do finally decide on a class or sequence, unless there’s a genuine reason to stop practising, try and see it through. It’s the nature of the monkey mind to keep searching for “perfection” but whatever unfolds you will learn something (whether about yoga or yourself). Know too that the biggest lessons are usually learned from doing what you find challenging – be this physically or mentally.
10….but at the same time, cut yourself some slack 🙂
For all its benefits, practising at home can, of course, sometimes be more challenging than going to a studio. If finding time to squeeze your yoga practice in between work and family commitments causes you more stress than going to an external class, then that’s fine too. The key thing is that you just show up on your mat open, present, accepting and curious – wherever it happens to be.