I’d love to be a yogi, but I don’t have time.
I’d love to be a yogi, but it’s boring.
I’d love to be a yogi, but I can’t sit still.
I’d love to be a yogi, but I’m not flexible enough.
I posted about how to bring yoga to running a couple of weeks ago and got quite a few emails wanting tips on how to get started in yoga.
I stared practicing yoga at home about 8 years ago. At first, I followed along with DVD’s. It helped me learn the lingo before I eventually went to my gym’s classes (I had a gym membership back then). I loved the classes there. I got the physical benefits of yoga. That’s about it. There was no mind/body connection. But I really fell hard for yoga when I went to an actual yoga studio. The classes were way different. We chanted. The teacher came around and did adjustments throughout class. We did breathing exercises. I learned the ‘why’ rather than just doing a pose. There was a the constant reminder to link breath to movement. Rather than just a physical practice, I felt like I was getting the whole yoga package. From then on, I was hooked!
If you are looking for a way to love yoga, here are 8 tips on how to start a yoga practice. And hopefully, loving it.
1. Take a class in a studio.
If you are just starting out, I highly recommend going to a class at a studio if you can. There’s nothing like being in class and being able to see real people perform the different poses. Also, a good yoga teacher will ensure that you have proper alignment and help you understand where to focus on in each pose so you can fully reap the benefits.
Some instructors will ask at the beginning of class if you are new to his or her class and if you are new to yoga. If you do not want to announce this to the whole class, you can also introduce yourself to the instructor before class starts. That way, they can help you modify poses as needed.
2. Practice at home
If you’ve never done yoga before and want to get the lingo down before you head to a studio, start your practice at home. Or even if your schedule doesn’t allow for you to go to class in-person or you don’t have a lot of time to practice, there are tons of online or DVD resources. Great sources for online yoga videos include Yogaglo, Gaia and YogaDownload.com. Rodney Yee DVDs are fantastic for beginner yoga.
3. 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. I’d love to do a full practice every day but what works with my schedule right now is 2-3 days in the studio and 10-15 minutes on the other days at home.
3. 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!
4. 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. It’s taken some time for me to get to that point, but you will with time.
5.Props are your friend!
Since I’m hypermobile, I can put my palms flat on the floor with no problem. I never thought I needed a prop. But one of my teachers loves to use blocks and showed me that props are for everyone no matter how flexible you are. Yoga props, such as blocks or straps, can help you safely execute a pose that you otherwise might not be able to. Props can also help you learn to engage the correct muscles and learn the appropriate alignment.
6. Enjoy the silence.
You go to yoga and the silence is so deafening you can’t help but start to fidget. Your mind is racing thinking of everything and anything all at the same time. Your internal voice is screaming – “I didn’t pay good money to sit here. I want to sweat!” I felt the exact same way when I started yoga. And I still prefer the quicker paced Vinyasa style yoga. But even a few minutes at the beginning and end of class of disconnect from all the chatter of daily life, will become a welcomed time to just have your world revolve around your inhales and exhales. Trust me, you need it.
Yoga isn’t just about the physical poses. Ultimately, it’s about connecting your mind, body and breath. How often do you take deep breathes throughout your day? This is your time to do that. And then it will become a part of your daily living off the mat.
8. Don’t take it too seriously.
Yoga isn’t all straight faces and no emotions. If you fall over in a balancing posture, no big deal! Relax, smile, laugh.
What is standing in your way if you don’t do yoga?
If you do yoga, how did you get started?