Busy schedules, an active lifestyle, visiting family and friends during the weekends - last year you really didn't have the time or opportunity to go to a yoga class.
But we are at the start of a new year and a brand new decade! Let this be the time when you finally begin yoga. Start fresh. Start new.
First of all, there is no need to shame yourself for not starting a yoga practice sooner. Now is the perfect time to begin. You can start practicing Yoga anytime. Allow this to be YOUR time. The common questions, of course, might be these: what will Yoga do for me? Where do I go? How do I begin?
Let's approach these, one by one, so that you can make appropriate choices for yourself as you pursue this new incredible journey.
What will Yoga do for me?
Actually, Yoga can do many things for you. Ask yourself a question: what do you need in your life right now? Perhaps you need more flexibility and mobility in your body. Over the years, maybe you've become less active and more sedentary. Engaging in a moving yoga practice will bring back the mobilization in your body that you once had. Have you had a recent injury and need a safe and healthy way to ease your body back into healing? Yes, certain styles of Yoga are specifically designed to help heal the body after an injury, a surgery, or even relieve chronic pain.
Related article: Types of yoga
Maybe you want to lose a little weight? Active yoga practices can help tone your body, help you build up a sweat, and raise the calorie burn so that you can shed a few pounds. Can Yoga help you reduce stress and anxiety? Absolutely! One of the many reasons why people begin a yoga practice is to develop skills to reduce stress, ease tense muscles, and cure insomnia. As you can see, Yoga is a practice that is complementary to overall self-care.
Where do I go? How do I begin?
If you have never practiced Yoga before, it may be a good idea to ask if introductory Yoga classes are offered. If so, this would be an excellent place to start. In these classes, you should learn some of the fundamentals of a yoga practice: breathing, moving the body, and proper alignment for physical safety. A yoga instructor in an intro-level class should demonstrate and practice with you yoga breathing techniques, guide you through yoga postures and sequences, and show you ways to modify these movements to best fit your body, physical conditions, and experience level.
It takes a highly skilled yoga instructor to teach you these things. Ask about the qualifications of the yoga instructors at the studio or yoga space. Yoga Instructors should have completed training in a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification Program. That is the minimum hours needed to begin teaching in public facilities. The more experience an instructor has in teaching, the better their teaching quality and knowledge about the overall practice. They will be able to guide you through a yoga sequence proficiently and articulately with necessary modifications, safe hands-on adjustments, and use of props.
Your best bet to find technically trained and experienced yoga instructors is in the well-established yoga studio.
Ask about the selection of teachers, their backgrounds and certifications, and how long they have been teaching. This should be no different from finding a proper physician or psychologist. Remember, this is your personal health we're talking about. You want to find the best studio and instructors that suit your needs and intentions. If you want to learn how to meditate, but you walk into a hot yoga studio, then maybe this is not the right fit for you. If you're looking to heal after a past injury, but you go into a class that is fast-moving and highly physical, this, too, may not be the proper place. It is in your best interest to shop around until you find a yoga space that matches your needs.
What's the next step?
After attending some introductory classes and feeling like you've learned some of the basics of the yoga practice, you're now ready to take the next step. Refer to the yoga schedule and the list of class offerings. See what other styles of Yoga are offered and what would be the next logical step forward on your yoga journey. If you started with an intro class, you're now ready for something that has some more movement and more postures. Refer again, though, to your personal needs. If you desire more physical exercise to gain strength, flexibility, and agility, your next class can be one that moves slightly quicker than an intro class. This next-level class should still focus on the breath, limitations in the body, alignment, safety, and well-instructed flow so that you can continue to gain experience. After practicing here for several weeks or months, move on to the next level. This also goes for yoga classes where the intention is around relaxation, restoration, and meditation. Inquire about courses that offer an introduction to mindfulness meditation. Seek out classes that are specifically designed to restore and heal the entire body. These yoga classes will have minimal movement; the focus is on relaxing the mind and body.
Related article: Therapeutic yoga
How often should you go to a class?
More yoga is not necessarily better, but having the consistency and commitment to the yoga practice will undoubtedly bring more benefits to you over time.
What will happen after you practice Yoga?
If you engage in a regular practice, you will most likely achieve the goals you originally intended at the beginning of the year. Over the next few months, you will also notice other subtle changes. Peace of mind, reduced stress, clear thinking, less reactive, more muscles, stronger joints, skills, and techniques to fall asleep faster, reduce the risk of other life-threatening conditions like heart disease, stroke, or depression. The list goes on when it comes to the results and benefits of practicing Yoga. The main thing is....start! It's a new year; this could be the beginning of a NEW YOU!
…and don't forget the yoga mat!
If, after practicing regularly, you see that you start falling in love with Yoga, then investing in a yoga mat is a good choice. We highly recommend staying away from PVC yoga mats as research has shown that they are not just unhealthy for the environment, but also for the people who practice on them.
Consider investing in ecofriendly, natural rubber yoga mat for which the planet Earth – if it could – would tell you Thank YOU!