Yoga provides a variety of health benefits and if you are thinking of starting yoga, now’s as good a time as any. There are a number of yoga studios and it won’t be difficult to find one near you.
What is Yoga?
The term ‘yoga’ comes from an ancient Indian language called Sanskrit, and is a derivation of the word yuj. This literally means ‘yoking together’ as in a team of horses or oxen. For this ancient form of exercise, it means a union between the mind and the body. Yoga aims to improve a person’s physical and mental health by focusing on strength, flexibility and breathing, which is done through performing poses or postures.
You can gain various health benefits from yoga, and these can vary since there are various yoga styles that you can choose to engage in. Generally, yoga poses stretch your muscles, and you may notice an improvement with your flexibility as you continue doing yoga. You will also notice an improvement with your posture as you become stronger and more flexible.
Practicing ashtanga and power yoga, which are physical styles of yoga practice, can help you improve muscle tone, and the lyengar or hatha can help you build strength and endurance.
Yoga involves breathing techniques which can help you relax; in fact, it has been known to help lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate, which can be helpful to those who have hypertension or heart disease.
Yoga Classes for Beginners
If you’ve made the decision to start doing yoga, you will need to prepare yourself for the next step: actually looking for yoga classes to attend. First, you will need to pick a yoga type that will suit your personality. You will need to do a little research and decide whether you want a slow or fast-paced yoga class. There are various types of yoga classes available, and these depend on the teacher and the yoga style in which they specifically trained.
You can ask family, friends or colleagues to see if they can recommend a yoga studio or yoga instructor. If not, you can do a quick online search to find a yoga classes in your area. There are online yoga directories that you can scour for registered yoga teachers and training programs by style or location. Some websites will simply ask you for your zip code and display results for yoga studios right in your neighborhood. Other options would be to check local wellness publications or you can visit a few gyms to see if they offer yoga classes.
Find out what you need to bring. Most yoga studios have available yoga mats that you can rent, but if you don’t mind shelling a few dollars to buy your own, then go ahead. Don’t forget to bring a bottle of water to help you keep hydrated, as well as a towel and a change of clothes.
What to Expect at Your First Yoga Class
Being a newbie can be daunting, but it need not be overwhelming. Remember that, depending on the time and day that you choose, as well as the popularity of the yoga instructor, the yoga class may be full. This means that you may need to practice yoga very closely with other people.
Make sure to wear comfortable clothes, such as stretchy exercise pants and tank top for women and shorts and t-shirt for men. Leave the sneakers at home – yoga is practiced barefoot.
Don’t be surprised if the teacher goes around the room as they teach and actually help adjust your body. This is just to ensure that you are in a safe anatomical position. However, if you don’t feel comfortable being touched, then don’t hesitate to say so, so the teacher can instruct you how to correct your position yourself.
If you feel light-headed or tired, you can stop and rest until you are sure you are ready to rejoin the class. You should also feel no painful sensations, and in case you are in pain, stop immediately or modify your pose until you are comfortable. Ask your yoga instructor to teach you how to properly practice the pose, but you can wait to do this until after the class so as not to disrupt it.
Lastly, don’t feel bad and think that you are doing the yoga poses incorrectly or clumsily. Remember that you are just beginning and that you will become more flexible and stronger down the road.