by Emily Adams: Yoga has intrigued you for a while and you’ve finally decided to take your first class. Now what?
While the idea of getting the bodies and Zen like attitude of the yogis we see on video or at the studio is exciting, it can be a little daunting as well.
To help you get over these rough spots, check out the following tips. They will help you settle more comfortably into the rhythm of your yoga practice.
Flexibility is not a requirement. You don’t have to be super bendy to practice yoga. So, resist the temptation to strain your body when doing challenging poses. Some of the many benefits of a regular yoga practice are mental and physical flexibility, your mastery over the asanas will come in time.
You don’t need fancy, designer workout clothing. No matter the price tag of your yoga clothes, it’s important that your yoga clothes are comfortable, let you breathe, and are easy to move around in. It’s also a great idea to wear layers – this comes in especially handy when you warm up and cool down.
Is the thought of going barefoot freaking you out? The truth of the matter is, taking your shoes off during your yoga practice helps keep you safe. How is this possible? Going barefoot prevents your feet from slipping and sliding on the mat. It also helps ground your feet so you are fully supported while going through the postures.
Be honest with yourself about your limitations. Do you have previous surgeries or injuries? There are multiple types of yoga that you can try but remember to take things slowly.
You are not here to ‘prove’ you are here to ‘improve’. If a pose or a movement, because of a previous injury, causes you pain or strain, a modified version of the asana should fit the bill. A grounding posture, like child’s pose, is another good option.
As you go through your practice, you will find new muscles that you never knew existed. This can be exciting and you may want to test these new discoveries before you are fully ready. Listen to your body. Don’t strain, struggle, or stress.
Keep a journal. Yoga is more than just physical it’s mental too. And, when you are in the midst of your practice, you will be surprised by the insights that are revealed. Unfortunately, these eureka moments are usually forgotten as soon as we get back to the grind of our daily lives. Taking time after practice to write your thoughts/questions/insights in a journal will make sure they are not soon forgotten.
Invest in a high-quality mat. Off the cuff, you consider this to be a trivial point. What difference could a mat make? The truth of the matter is, there’s nothing quite like the security that you feel when your footing is firm, especially during a challenging pose. This is what a good quality mat can do for you.
Quiet your critics. Where there is doubt, the voices in your head can play the craziest tricks on you. They tell you that you are not good enough, that you will never be able to master yoga.
The truth is it’s common for beginners to have doubts when starting out with yoga. It’s hard to feel confident when your peers are seemingly turning themselves into pretzels with ease. But, do you want to know a little secret? Intermediate and expert practitioners feel doubt as well. This is normal; so don’t give yourself a hard time about it.
It is when your doubts turn into a chorus that things have gotten out of control. Place your trust in your interest and appreciation of yoga. This devotion is worth a lot more than any technical skill.
Breakfast (or lunch or dinner) doesn’t agree with yoga. Yoga is best when practiced on an empty stomach. Almost empty is fine as well.
To make sure that you keep within this guideline, wait at least 2 or 3 hours after eating to do your practice. This ensures that your body is able to focus on physical exertion instead of digestion. Alternatively, doing yoga on a full stomach may disrupt your digestion and cause discomfort.
Breathe! Practicing yoga without focusing on the breath is like going surfing when the sea is calm. It just isn’t the same. Breath brings oxygen into the lungs, organs, and cells of the body, providing us with much of the energy we need to get through our day.
During your yoga practice, your breath can be your best guide and can help you set up the foundation for lasting success. For instance, if your breath becomes constricted, rapid, or short, during your practice, that’s your cue to try a modification or different posture.
Full breaths also help us unearth the full potential of restricted joints and tight muscles. They have a calming effect on the mind and body that helps our muscles relax and release tension. This gives your mind the opportunity to slow down and release anxieties and worries. In fact, just a few moments of breath awareness can short circuit a moment of anxiety or a fit of anger.
Time is not of the essence. For most beginners, yoga is a new way of movement and thought. Far from a scary experience, learning something new is very exciting, especially if you give yourself space and time to explore.
Embrace the adventure, progress is made when you practice earnestly and meet yourself where you are at spiritually, mentally, and physically.
Have an open heart and mind. Yoga is a great way to tone the body and calm the mind. But, it can be intimidating to beginners as well. The good news is that yoga is not a competition. You can go at your own pace. Just don’t forget to smile, breathe, and enjoy. Namaste.
Emily Adams is a marketing specialist at YogiWear having a main focus on development and implementation of marketing ideas. Her primary talking points are yoga life, benefits of yoga, yogi lifestyle and yoga wear.