by Elena Hicks: With all the Sanskrit and crazy-difficult poses you see on Instagram, yoga can be intimidating…
I have good news: That’s not what yoga has to be. You, too, can do yoga! Here’s how to get started.
RELATED: 9 yoga tips for beginners
Before class, be sure to:
1. Start with a group class at a legitimate yoga studio
For the best experience possible, go to a studio that offers only yoga or specializes in yoga. At a “legit” yoga studio, your safety is most likely in better hands. Yoga studios (vs. gyms or clubs that offer yoga classes) tend to have more knowledgeable and experienced instructors who went through longer, more demanding teacher trainings.
2. Choose a class that fits your goals
Make your first class a beginner-level class. Even if you’re in great shape and have been exercising for years, it doesn’t hurt to ease into a new activity. A beginner-level class will ideally break down foundational poses at a slower pace to keep you feeling successful and safe.
Identify what it is that you want to get out of yoga. Are you looking to lose weight, get more toned and defined muscles, improve flexibility, sleep better, release stress, meditate easier? Whether subtly or obviously, all styles of yoga help you achieve all of those things.
If it’s dramatic weight loss or more muscles you’re seeking, select a fast-paced, heated, high-energy, “yang”-style class, maybe even with weights.
Also consider yin or restorative yoga, where you hold passive stretches for 5-20 minutes to work into your joints and connective tissue, to find more flexibility in your “yang” yoga practice and in your daily life. While exercise of any kind will help you get more quality sleep, restorative yoga can relax you before bed. It’s better to practice more intense yoga earlier in the day.
As to what kind of yoga is best for stress release, it really depends on the individual. Analyze your personality and determine what it is that you’re trying to let go of.
Balance yin and yang. It’s not going to work for everyone to take a heated power class every day. That’s not only OK, it’s good and normal.
3. Come prepared
You don’t need anything but your body to practice yoga. However, you can make a few conscious choices before class to make your yoga practice as distraction-free as possible. Wear form-fitting, comfortable clothes (sweat-wicking, too, if in a heated, power or vinyasa class.) Invest in a quality mat of your own to prevent slipping on your own sweat. (I love Lululemon Athletica’s The Mat!)
Be mindful about what you eat and drink before class. Stay hydrated all day if you’re attending an evening class and drink more water the night before to prepare for a class early the next morning. For food, everyone is different. Just keep it simple and use trial and error and common sense. Think: What feels especially heavy in my stomach after I eat it? Would I eat this right before going on a run? If you’re going to a heated class, it’s even more important to stay hydrated and eat lightly before class.
Here’s what to do when you get to the studio:
4. Be early
In the yoga world, 15 minutes early is on time. Show up even a little earlier for your first class at a particular studio. You may need the extra time to fill out a release form, pay for class, let the instructor know of any injuries or medical conditions, and find a good spot for your mat.
5. Get the best spot in class
If you were wondering, there is a best spot in class. It’s the center of the middle row. That way, you’ll be able to see what’s going on no matter what direction you’re facing. Don’t be self-conscious about your practice. Trust me, everyone else is focused on their own practice.
6. Don’t be shy
Finally, introduce yourself to the yogis around you. The people you’ll meet and connections you’ll make, especially in the Des Moines yoga community, will amaze you!
Source: Desmoines Register