Practicing yoga offers countless benefits, but for some people, beginning a practice can be intimidating. One of the first things to keep in mind is that the practice of yoga has nonjudgement built right in. If you choose to start by taking a class (which is a good idea!) your teacher may remind the class – particularly if there are beginners – that this is not a competition, and that everyone should focus on their own practice, not that of anyone else in the class. In addition, the instructor will help you modify poses to make them appropriate for your fitness level.
Here are five tips to help you get your practice off to a great start:
1. Choose a class that is right for you.
There are lots of types of yoga, and after you’ve practiced a bit you’ll probably want to explore different classes. Many studios offer classes for beginners and might indicate those classes on their schedule. Here’s a quick guide to the most popular types of yoga that can help you decode the schedule at your gym and figure out which class is right for you.
2. Know what you need to get started.
This is simple, as you don’t need much more than a mat and some comfortable clothes in order to start practicing yoga. Comfortable breathable clothing is best. You may want to wear a form-fitting shirt since in many yoga poses your head is below your hips and your shirt may slide down. Any exercise pants or shorts will do, but you may want to avoid slick lycra as it may cause you to slide on your mat.
When it comes to mats, there is a variety from which to choose, and if you develop a lifelong practice, you’ll want to invest a bit more in a mat. To start, you can usually rent mats at a yoga studio; just be sure to clean the mat before and after use. After a class or two, you can make a decision about how much you want to spend on a mat. For those who tend to sweat a lot during practice, check outYogaPaws. These nifty little gadgets can be used solo for travel or in conjunction with your yoga mat it keeps you locked in place.
3. Know the basics of yoga etiquette.
Being familiar with yoga etiquette will help you feel more comfortable the first time you walk into a studio. Here’s a quick list of things to be aware of:
- Take off your shoes before entering the yoga room
- Turn off your phone, or better yet, leave it in the car
- Arrive ten minutes before the class starts, giving yourself time to set up your mat and relax
- Introduce yourself to the teacher, and tell her you’re new to yoga; she’ll be happy to give you some additional help and to modify poses for you throughout the class
- Go to the bathroom before class
4. Make time for yoga in your schedule.
As with any type of physical activity, you need to incorporate yoga into your schedule. If you’re going to take classes, you’ll want to find a yoga studio nearby, increasing the chances of creating a regular practice. Review the class schedule, become familiar with what each class is and what level of student it’s designed for (ask the people who work at the studio for help!), then put the classes you want to take into your calendar right away. You’ll avoid scheduling other events when you’ve already allocated the time to yoga.
5. Give it some time.
We’ve all heard the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and it applies to yoga as well. When you see your instructor moving smoothly through a flow, doing a handstand with no apparent effort, or holding an awkward-looking pose, remember that she’s probably been practicing for years. Ask her… she’ll be happy to tell you that she couldn’t even THINK about doing that handstand until after she’d been practicing for a year! Be patient with yourself and don’t push. Yoga is a combination of mind, body, and spirit and you’ll see the benefits of it over time – not after a few classes!