Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well!
Yoga has always been an activity of interest to me; the way it frees your body and mind while getting you into prime shape isn’t something I can easily ignore. So how does one get started practicing yoga? Katie Hamre from Find Wholeness dropped by to offer a complete yoga guide for beginners.
Getting Started with Yoga: A Beginner’s Guide
So you’re thinking about getting into yoga – that’s great! Millions of people worldwide have discovered the level of awesome that can be achieved by making it a regular part of their lives, and you should, too. Yoga is low-impact, stress relieving and can help people reach their weight loss goals; this makes it a great workout for people of all ages and fitness levels. Despite all the positives, there are a few things you should keep in mind as a beginner yoga practitioner (and it is always wise to consult your physician before beginning a new exercise routine).
Don’t skip the instructional part
If you have access to a yoga studio (a real studio, with a trained instructor, not just any place with group fitness classes), take advantage of at least a few of the introductory courses. You don’t have to sign up for a lifetime membership or anything, but by taking a few beginner or “yoga basics classes,” you can be sure that you are doing the poses correctly and without harm to yourself.
If you don’t have access to a studio, a lot of beginner yoga DVD’s will have a choice on the main menu with an instructional portion. This part will take time to demonstrate each asana, explaining proper form; that way when you go back and do the routine, you can simply follow along as the instructor names each pose.
Finally, if you prefer to follow free yoga videos online, check out Yoga Journal first; they have provided dozens of yoga demonstration videos.
Don’t push too hard
Any good yoga instructor will tell you that every yoga practice that you take part in is your practice. It belongs to you, challenging your balance and focus, calming your mind and strengthening your body. And because it is yours, there is no reason to strive so hard to achieve an elusive pose that you become injured. Every person advances their yoga practice at their own pace. Some are naturally more bendy than others, and that’s okay. It’s also okay if you never become able to do a headstand or the splits. Strength and balance come with time and practice; if you are patient with yourself and make yoga a regular part of routine, you will see results.
Dress for comfort
It isn’t necessary to wear clothing that is labeled as being made for yoga. What is important is that your yoga clothes move with you and don’t cause chafing. Moisture-wicking material is helpful if you sweat a lot, but if you don’t, cotton is fine. Many women like traditional yoga pants, because they feature a fold-over waistband that will ride higher up on the waist (it keeps your rear end from hanging out during those forward bends); but just wearing a long exercise top would do the same thing.
Yoga studios will have all the equipment you need, so if you are just beginning your practice and are unsure if yoga is for you, you can try it out before you invest in the few items you might need. Some of the things you may need are:
- Yoga mat – this is really a necessity. Yoga mats are a little sticky, so your hands and feet won’t slip around on you.
- Block – yoga blocks are good for beginners, because they help you get into asanas that you may not otherwise be able to achieve. For instance, in triangle pose, if you aren’t flexible enough to reach your hand all the way to the floor, a block can be used as an extension.
- Strap – a yoga strap helps with many different stretches, making them more accessible while you work on your range of motion.
- Other tips:
- Don’t eat right before class. You’ll be bending over a lot, and if you have a full belly, that food’s going to want to come right back up.
- Always practice yoga barefoot. Socks are too slippery.
- Don’t skip Savasana! The resting pose at the end of your yoga routine is the most important.
Benefits of yoga
And in case you don’t already know all the amazing benefits that yoga has to offer, here are just a few for your motivation:
- Improves strength, posture, range of motion and flexibility.
- Deep breathing improves lung capacity and relaxes the body.
- Provides stress relief and improved mood.
- Has positive affects on the brain and heart (and the respective disorders of each).
- Therapeutic yoga has been shown to improve a number of chronic medical conditions.