I get asked a lot how I can love yoga. Isn’t it boring? Slow? Just stretching? I admit I haven’t always loved yoga. I thought those very same things. Standing still in one place could not be beneficial to your health.
When I first started trying yoga about 5-6 years ago, it was at home with a video. I think it was Candlelight Yoga from Crunch Gym. I was looking for something to calm me down, stretch and relax. We were trying to get pregnant and I heard yoga was a good tool to help with the stress of not conceiving right away. I did it but didn’t really get into it.
After a short time, I decided I was ready for a class at my gym. I had a general idea of basic poses which made me feel a little bit more comfortable. I wouldn’t be craning my neck to see what the teacher was doing the whole time. The first in real life class was good. It was a slow moving Hatha practice. I wasn’t hooked but I did feel a million times lighter leaving that class. It was just what I needed to decompress and let all my thousands of thoughts slide away.
After awhile I felt brave enough to try Power Yoga. It was faster with a warmer room and an athletic emphasis. We did so many Chaturangas that first night that I was sore for days. This felt like a workout. I was sweating. I could feel my muscles working hard. There was absolutely no boredom since the pace was so quick. I was hooked! It felt marvelous. This was my type of yoga. My routine consisted of 3-4 yoga classes a week. Eventually we did get pregnant and I continued my yoga practice at the gym, at home and at another place strictly for prenatal yoga.
Post babies I kind of abandoned yoga. I didn’t have a gym membership and my home practice wasn’t happening among all the baby paraphernalia. About 2 1/2 years ago I started doing occasional sessions with free classes online. It felt great to breathe, twist and decompress again. It wasn’t the same as my old classes but it worked with my schedule.
Soon there after a Living Social deal for an independent yoga studio in my area popped up. I spontaneously bought one and never looked back. A real yoga studio was ten times different than my old gym. The teacher came around and adjusted your poses. Some teachers didn’t even do the practice with the class. They just walked around the room for the entire session. We chanted. People were doing headstand and poses I’d only seen in Yoga Journal. I knew then and there I could never go back to doing yoga at a gym.
This was the practice that I wanted.
Through my years of trial and error, there are 5 things that I found that worked for me.
5 Tips on How to Love Yoga
- Start slow. Don’t think you need to do a full 60-90 minute practice every single day. Just like any new exercise addition, start once a week and see how it goes.
- Try different styles. There are countless styles of yoga and variations. Bikram, Ashtanga, Hatha, Kundalini, Power Yoga, Chair yoga, Yoga for Women with Curves, Yoga for Runners, Aerial Yoga. The list goes on and on. If one style doesn’t suit you, try another. I can almost guarantee there is one out there for you!
- Don’t compare yourself to others. As with life in general, be you. Just because the person next to you is in headstand, don’t think you need to be. Know your limits. Also, don’t think everyone is watching you. Trust me, most people are concentrating on themselves. I rarely even notice the person on the mat next to me until after Savasana.
- Go to a yoga studio rather than a gym unless you’ve heard great things about a teacher. I didn’t really get proper alignment instruction during any of my classes at the gym. I remember the first time someone thoroughly explained Warrior II, I was amazed at how much different it felt doing it right. Plus, the last thing you want to do is get injured.
- Don’t take it too seriously. Yoga isn’t all straight faces and no emotions. Relax, smile, laugh.
If after you’ve done a few live classes and feel like you want to supplement at home, here are my favorite yoga websites and podcasts:
- Yogadownload.com – Lots of free 20 minute classes and variety.
- Dave Farmar Podcasts
How did you get into practicing yoga? Do you want to love yoga? Any DVDs, websites, podcasts or tips you’d like to add?