First of all, you do not have to be as flexible as a Cirque du Soleil performer in order to do yoga. Yes, being ultra bendy is beneficial, but it’s not a requirement.
There is more to yoga than contorting your body into difficult asanas (poses). It does improve strength, balance, and flexibility. But it is also about achieving mindfulness (mindful awareness) and self-discovery.
What Are the Benefits?
While most people today do the practice for physical exercise, there are many other reasons why it is widely popular.
- A healthier mind
- Improved sleep and relaxation
- Combats negative effects of desk jobs
- Maintains and improves organ, muscle, and joint health
- Helps in preventing certain conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and auto-immune disorders
- 6. Speeds up recovery from training, as well as prevents injury and improves performance in sports
- Increases overall well-being and your sense of happiness
As a newbie, it would be best to try beginner classes. This is so you can slowly and gently get into the practice. Furthermore, instructors in these groups will usually demonstrate asanas and modify your alignment if needed. In advanced classes, the participants tend to be more experienced already so the teacher may be less likely to give cues or make adjustments to students’ poses.
It also helps to find a yoga studio with experienced instructors. Take note also that each teacher may have different teaching styles, so try out several classes and instructors until you find one you are most comfortable with. If you’re based in Melbourne, check out The Yoga Place. It was voted as one of the top studios in the city, and it offers over 30 classes of complementary styles. Check out their website www.theyogaplace.com.au for more information.
Which Type of Yoga to Practice?
Whether it is Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Bikram, or another type, the one you choose will totally depend on you. Try different yoga practices to see which ones you like and are most helpful for your mind and body. If you prefer something more chill, then go for Yin or Hatha. If you want a good workout, then Vinyasa or Ashtanga could be for you.
What to Wear?
As the practice requires your body to move smoothly and transition effortlessly from one pose to another, it is best to wear clothes that are super comfortable and don’t inhibit movement. Loose t-shirts, yogi pants, shorts, and leggings are recommended. Because each yoga type requires a different level of exertion and asanas, it’s good to ask your instructor or staff at the studio what attire would be best for your class before attending a session.
What to Prepare?
Most studios provide mats and props for their students, but it’s good to have one of your own so you can practice even in your home or office.
- Yoga Mat – You can buy an affordable one first, and invest in something more expensive in the long run. As for props, everyday items can be alternatives, so you really don’t have to spend for these.
- An Open Mind – Come to your session with a willingness to improve your overall well-being and an openness to learn. This will allow you to pick up important learnings and enjoy the experience more.
- Your Time – Be at the studio at least 15 minutes before your class begins. This allows you to be better prepared physically, emotionally, and mentally.
What to Leave Behind Before Beginning Your Yoga Session?
- Shoes – The practice is done barefoot, so leave your footwear outside the door.
- Phones – How are you going to focus on connecting your mind and body if you keep getting notifications and messages? Plus, it will surely disturb or annoy your classmates. Turn off your phone or leave it in your bag in silent or ‘do not disturb’ mode.
- Expectations – Don’t think that you’ll be able to perform a handstand and contort into a pretzel after just one session. You also might not be able to mediate successfully after just an hour of practice. If you expect too much from yourself right away, you might quit after just one class. Allow yourself enough time to get into the flow and find what works for you and what doesn’t.
1. Go at your own pace
Challenge yourself, but don’t push too far. It’s great if you can do more difficult asanas as you go deeper into your practice. But if there is already pain, remind yourself to step back a bit. You don’t want any injuries. In addition, don’t compare. It doesn’t matter if you don’t look as graceful as your friend when you move into downward dog. Each yoga journey is different for each person.
2. Take a break if you need one
When the class requires transitioning from one pose to another at a pace that you can’t keep up with, don’t force yourself to move faster. Or if you feel a bit exerted after staying in Warrior One for too long, allow your body to rest for a bit. Instructors shouldn’t mind because they understand that practicing yoga goes at different speeds, levels, and abilities.
3. Don’t focus on how you look, rather on how you feel
It’s not about having Instagram-worthy outfits and executing poses like you’re a seasoned yogi. It’s about how your breathing, mindful awareness, and execution of asanas are helping you become more connected to the moment. It’s about how your current workout is making you feel.
4. Inform your teacher about any health issues or injuries
You should ideally do this before your session begins or when you sign up for a class at a studio. This way, they can program a practice that is suitable to your current overall condition.
5. Let your teacher know you are a beginner before your class starts
This helps so your instructor can teach you at a pace more suitable for you, as well as provide you with helpful tips and make necessary alignment adjustments when needed.
6. Your last meal should be two to four hours before a session
This ensures you won’t feel any discomfort or experience any problems during your workout.
7. Learn some basic yoga terms before attending a class
It’s helpful to know what asana, pranayama, proper breathing, meditation, and being aware means so you can follow more quickly when your teacher gives instructions. However, it’s not a requirement, and some instructors are happy to explain the terms so you develop a deeper understanding of what you are doing.
8. Enjoy the experience
Again, remember that yoga is supposed to be helpful. So if you are just getting frustrated and stressed because you’re not bending as far as you want to by the end of the week, or because you’re feeling so out of breath after each session, then maybe you are doing it for the wrong reasons. You should actually be happy after each class and even smile as you breathe in, and breathe out.
Yoga for Everyone
One of the best things about yoga is it can be for anyone, no matter your age, weight, religion, current fitness level, or profession. Even those who are pregnant, menstruating, or with certain health conditions can do it. Just make sure to consult with your doctor and instructor before you begin so they can guide you as to which yoga types and poses are advisable or should be avoided. This is a practice that welcomes all people to achieve mindfulness, a healthier mind and body, and overall wellness.