I am a beginner. The group of ladies on my street have been trying to get me to go with them for years. However, my perception of yoga – silent, meditative, slow – never appealed to me. Personally, I’m a mover. I need to run, jump, climb, sweat to feel like I am getting a workout. How could such a slow gentle workout, well, be a workout? I was wrong. Finally caving in, I attended my first class in yoga for beginners and found myself thoroughly challenged and feeling strong afterward.
If you have never attempted yoga and are skeptical about its benefits, here are some tips.
Take introductory lessons: Every yoga studio offers some sort of intro class. Even local recreation centers have yoga classes. Consider signing up for a 4- or 5-week series of introductory lessons to learn directly from an experienced and trained teacher. Learning with other beginners may help you feel more comfortable in instructor-led classes. Also, try not to focus on everyone else in the room.
Taking a class is a great way to find out what kind of yoga you like. I found I preferred hot yoga, but if you don’t like the heat or have certain health conditions, this may not be for you.
Partner Up: Get a friend to go with you. Be accountable to each other for attending class.
Seek health care advice: Seek advice from your health care practitioner before starting any new exercise program. Certain poses are not recommended for people who are new to yoga and have blood pressure issues, or for women who are pregnant.
Pause before you begin: Take a few quiet moments to remind yourself why you are trying these poses. What are you trying to bring into your life? Ease? Strength? Flexibility? Balance? Relaxation? You will be delighted to find that you will gain all of these.
If you are still not sure if you are up for yoga, consider the numerous benefits yoga offers.
Relaxation: In yoga, you bring your attention to your breath and this can help elicit a relaxation response, or a calmness of mind and body.
Improved sleep: A study from Harvard found regular yoga practice may improve sleep quality. Several studies of older adults have shown that practicing yoga can improve sleep duration and quality, anxiety, tension, sense of well being, and quality of life.
Physical changes: Yoga helps develop balance, strength, and flexibility.
Photo from here, with thanks.