5 Tips to Getting Started with Yoga

The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind. ~Rodney Yee

Maybe you have already taken that first step and gone to one or two classes or maybe you are just getting interested in yoga. Either way, starting something new can be as exciting as it is intimidating. Arriving at your first class and seeing everyone comfortably sitting on the floor cross-legged or perhaps doing their own bendy maneuvers may leave you wondering if you are in the right place.

As Rodney Yee so simply states above, you do not need much to start a physical yoga practice and more importantly, you do not need to be in any certain condition physically, mentally or beyond. Yoga provides us with the opportunity to meet ourselves wherever we are and move from there. It is a way to become curious about the state of the body, mind and breath. Through it, we can become more aware of the fluctuations that come and go through the mind and how our experiences of such are integrated into the body. It is quite fascinating.

People become interested in yoga for a myriad of reasons; however, if you find yourself being drawn towards a physical and breath based yoga practice I encourage you to look over the following five tips for some guidance.

1. Find what works

Follow your intuition and work towards finding a teacher, style and practice that works for you. This means you may have to try a couple of studios to find a good fit.

Or maybe a home practice is more practical for you and you want to try online classes first. A few websites that are popular for online classes (with a monthly fee) are: www.yogaglo.com ($30/month) and www.myyogaonline.com ($10/month). Both offer a variety of classes for beginners, advanced practitioners and in between. Youtube also offers some good full length classes. Online classes are great but they do not replace having the physical presence of a teacher, so work to find a balance that benefits you. Especially as a beginner, it is essential to have some level of feedback from an instructor who can help you develop a strong foundation in the basics of alignment, breath and movement with integrity.

2. Commitment

Just as with any new endeavor, you must bring some level of commitment if you want to see the results. I briefly touched on this in a previous post, but I will reiterate the importance of being honest with yourself about what you can commit to at this time. Daily for 10 minutes? 3 times weekly for an hour? 2 studio classes and 1 home practice per week? There are many, many possibilities, but do not fall into the trap of over (or under) estimating how much time and effort you can realistically put into yoga. I recommend a minimum of 2-3 classes per week (ideally an in-person experience) for 2-3 months to really begin to see changes in the body and the mind.

3. Ask questions

We all have different ways of learning. Some benefit from visually seeing the teacher move with them during class, while others rely on listening to instructions.

Regardless, everyone can benefit from asking questions. Usually it is most appropriate to ask questions at the end of class, but that varies depending on the class and instructor. I am happy to offer answers on the spot when my classes are smaller in size. If you are confused about where your foot should be or why X pose is causing pain somewhere, please ask! Are you wondering about the sanskrit names your instructor used in class? Are you lost when it comes to the breath? Again, please ask. From where I stand, I enjoy answering your questions and it gives me feedback indicating that you are engaged in the process.

4. Be patient

This is pretty straight forward and comes with the new territory that you are exploring. Part of the yoga learning curve is paying your respects to the concept of time and how your body naturally progresses through it. Be patient when your body is not responding the way you would like it to. Be patient if you are injured, sick or need to take a break for a few days/weeks. Be patient when you try and end up falling down instead.

5. Keep a beginner’s mind

Being a beginner is a gift that leaves you with a willingness that can fade over time if not tended to. One of my teachers once explained that teaching beginners is easy because they are so receptive, teaching advanced yogis is easy because they realize that they do not know anything for certain but teaching the students in between is challenging because of what they think they know. Staying curious about our body, breath and practice can help sustain the willingness that brings us to yoga in the first place.

Maybe most importantly, have fun and be willing to laugh at yourself from time to time. Namaste.

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