Yoga is one of the most popular physical activities in the United States. People from all walks of life are delving into the mysteries of this ancient discipline. If you have never done yoga before, where do you begin? Below you will find a few thoughts on how to get your practice started.
Yoga = Commitment:The commitment is to
yourself and just like any other commitment; this one requires time
and sustained effort. Think of yoga as a long-term investment in
your physical and mental well-being. To fully realize the return on
your investment you will need to make yoga a regular part of your
life ritual. Plan ahead and make space and time in your schedule
for your yoga practice.
Set yourself up for success:With yoga growing in popularity, there are numerous classes, studios and teachers from which to choose. Do your homework! Read about the different styles. Research the studios in your area. Then choose a location you think works for you. Convenience can often play a role in your long-term success. Attending a class near your home or workplace can make your life less complex. However, finding the right yoga community and a teacher with whom you can connect is equally important!
Experiment:If you have multiple choices…sample more than one. Keep your mind open and experiment with different teachers and studios. If all goes well, you should find a supportive and challenging environment within which to explore yourself. At the very minimum the facility should be clean and the instructor clear and motivating.
Communication is key:The first time you try yoga it may feel strange foreign or overwhelming. Communicating with the instructor via email, over the phone or in person, before a class, can alleviate some of the awkwardness. Let the instructor know where you are…”its my first time to the studio,” “I have never done yoga before,” etc. Let the teacher know about any physical limitations or areas of concern before the class gets started. If the instructor does hands on adjustments during class, be sure to communicate with him/her when you have been pushed to your edge. Finally, expect clear communication in return. A good instructor will take the time to listen to your questions and offer you thoughtful, accurate responses in return. Personal attention from a qualified instructor is often key in developing a sound yoga practice…overly large classes where you don’t get much individual focus are probably not in your best interest. Finally, it's ok to feel challenged during your first class...most people do.
Reflection:What was the experience like? How do you feel physically? How do you feel emotionally and psychologically? Do you feel different than when the class started? If so, how? These are all important questions to ask yourself after your first class. Take the time to write down any questions that come to mind. Reflect on how you feel again the next day. It’s very likely you will experience some muscle soreness and possibly even feel tighter than before taking the class. This is a good indication you need to head back to another class ASAP. Be clear about the difference between soreness and pain. Do your best to steer clear of pain that limits your range of motion or which seems to be persistent. A well-trained instructor should be able to offer you alternative postures or modifications to help alleviate injuries or pain. Again, it is important that you return to a class as soon as possible and communicate with the instructor.
Have fun:Don’t take yourself or your practice too seriously. Approach your practice with the wonder of a child. Have fun and enjoy what you can do.
Namaste, John Merideth • Founder/Director • onlYoga