In life no matter what you’re doing I find it imperative to put your best foot forward. Go hard or go home. Since I’ve been dedicating so much time to my yoga practice I’ve been getting endless questions about yoga in general but mainly HOW TO START. Here are my 5 most important things to think about when starting to practice yoga.
#1 JUST DO IT!
There is no right or wrong way to start practicing yoga, you just have to do it. Find a class to take, it should only be around $20 give or take a few dollars, and go in with an open spirit and mind. Get yourself in the game and even if you don’t like it at first give it another try. Remember it may not have been the yoga that you disliked but the fact that you were outside of your comfort zone. Don’t give up!
#2 KNOW YOUR RHYME & REASON
If you’re thinking about incorporating yoga into your life, first ask yourself why. I say this because the reason behind your decision can very well determine how you manifest your practice. I made the decision to start for mental health rather than physical. The idea of getting a peace of mind while also getting exercise intrigued me, but my main goal was not to get fit although it was a plus.
If you want to do yoga for physical health, that’s fine too. It helps build total body strength but a lot the poses focus on core strength. You can take yoga just about anywhere that provides fitness classes, a gym, a yoga studio etc. If you’re more like me and are interested in the meditation and more mental aspect of yoga then you definitely want to go to a yoga studio. Knowing exactly what you want to get out of your yoga class will help you decide where you are best fit to take the class. Do your research; ask around, you’ll figure it out.
#3 MAKE YOUR DISCOMFORT ZONE COMFORTABLE
As a beginner you may feel intimidated by other yogis and maybe even feel like a complete amateur. This is an understandable concern. No your chair pose may not look like the girl’s in front of you but one of the most important things to keep in mind is that your practice is your practice. You can and will only grow at your own rate and practicing in a suitable environment can help you maintain this positive attitude. Like I mentioned in #3 Know Your Rhyme & Reason, you must find an environment that works best for you to make this slightly uncomfortable transition as comfortable as possible. The more comfortable you are in your surroundings the more focused you can get. The more focused you are the more you will gain from your practice.
#4 DON’T GET STUCK IN YOUR WAYS
Yes I mention being comfortable. Being comfortable is an important part of yoga however, don’t confuse comfortable with complacent. Find a place where you feel at home to conduct your practice but don’t put yourself in a box. Try a new class, a new teacher and even visit other studios. With that said if you usually go to a yoga studio try visiting a class at a gym instead and vice versa. Once you’ve come to grips with the fact that yoga is solely about your personal journey and stop comparing yourself to outside entities you will feel confident enough in self that you are able to step outside of what you are used to and expand your practice. Every class, teacher, & studio/gym has something special to offer. In the end leaving yourself open to explore your practice will only enhance your craft.
#5 PLAN TO PROGRESS
If you take your practice seriously it is inevitable that you will grow both mentally and physically through yoga. Just like in school or in your professional life you have something that you are aiming to achieve. Whatever that is for you, find it and work towards it. As you may recognize by now from reading my previous posts, setting goals is the basis to accomplishing anything. As you grow in your practice maybe set a goal for a particular pose that may have been of difficulty to you when you first began. Keep practicing and growing your strength and soon enough you will gain what you lacked to carry out that pose with pride. Having that light at the end of the tunnel will keep you motivated to persevere through the rough patches that you will encounter at the beginning. Use the people around you that are more advanced as examples and motivation rather than competition. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
Some of these points I didn’t have anyone to tell me I had to kind of learn along the way so I felt it was important to share. Grab a yoga mat and some comfortable clothes (preferably cute also, when you look good you feel good) and get into that yoga class. If you want to start off slow and try it at home there are a number of videos and books that can assist you. One book in particular that I really loved is a book/flashcard set called Basic Yoga For Everyone by Gertrud Hirschi. I declare this a must read for anyone who practices yoga regardless of where they do it.