Are your friends, family or partner encouraging you to take a yoga class with them? Are you curious as to what the fuss is all about? Want a little insider info to help you get on the mat? Read on.
I started doing yoga about 10 years ago as the result of my wife begging to me come along and join her on the mat. She was practising yoga daily and had decided to study to become a teacher, so I was left with no alternative but to at least try. I must admit that first class was challenging, but never in my life had I felt so good. It was totally different to any other physical activity I had done before. My muscles were worked, my back felt better than it had in years – I felt both powerful and relaxed at the same time. I can honestly say that day changed my life.
A consistent yoga practice can provide you with increased flexibility, stronger muscles, healthy joints, core strengthening, cardiovascular conditioning, weight loss, lower stress levels and increased focus and concentration.
I know this sounds fantastic and you want to give it a go, but you are not sure where to start. The following tips will help you get on your mat and start your yoga journey. Enjoy the ride!
1) Choose the right class
There are so many different practices for you to choose from so it is important to find a practice that supports your current physical condition. Some popular styles are Hot Yoga, Bikram, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Power Yoga or Yin. Many studios offer beginner friendly classes so I would suggest starting with those first.
2) Get a yoga mat
Although most studios offer rental mats I recommend having your own. You can buy them at your local yoga studio or almost any sports store. By having your own mat you are not only making a commitment to practice but seeing it rolled up in the corner serves as a reminder for you to get to class!
3) Purchase an introductory yoga pass
Most studios offer new students an unlimited pass to try out their studio for anything from one to two weeks. These passes are great value for money as you will get to practice for a week or two for the cost of a casual class. Use the unlimited pass as many times as you can to see if the studio is the right one for you.
4) Take care of yourself
It is said that in yoga we leave our ego at the door. Listen to the instructions, drop the idea that you need to impress anyone and do what feels right. Don’t over stretch yourself and take care of your body. Injuries generally occur when we don’t listen and are disconnected with what is happening.
For me, the breath is one of the most important parts of the practice. Not only does it help you to get into the postures more easily and with more care it also relaxes your mind and increases your focus. You might hear different breathing techniques being mentioned during the class. Learn as much as you can but my advice is not to get overwhelmed. Have a steady even rhythm of breathing and enjoy the practice. One of the leading authorities of yoga in the past century Krishnamacharya says “If you can breathe you can do yoga”
6) Take a “no judgement” approach
Remember this is your very first class! Be kind to yourself. A marathon runner does not start off with long distances. Take it one step at a time
7) Shatter the “Yoga Myth”
Many new students think that people in the class will judge them because they are not flexible or can’t balance. This is far from the truth – no one else has time to worry about you – they are too busy taking care of themselves!
8) Come with an open mind and have fun!
You are doing something completely different than what you are used to. Have an open minded approach, smile and have fun! It is an exciting time as you learn and discover something new.
These tips are from my personal experience as a yoga teacher and practitioner. I hope that you find them helpful and they inspire you to search out your local studios. Enjoy!
Wanderlust Festival, LLC is a producer of large-scale lifestyle festival events focusing on yoga, music and wellness. Its flagship festival, Wanderlust, was first launched in Squaw Valley, California in 2009 and has already become the largest multi-day yoga event in the world as well as a significant player in the larger US festival market.