YOGA FOR BEGINNERS: A Comprehensive Guide
All the things you need to know before entering your first yoga class from an actual Yogi.
When thinking about yoga for the first time, it is easy to feel intimidated and overwhelmed. One of the major misconceptions about yoga is the need to be flexible, so much so, that the ability to contort ones own body into a human pretzel should come as second nature. The truth, however, could not be further from this.
You are there to give your body what it needs, and nothing more. Some days your body may ask you to drive it, other days you will need to take it slow. Most days will be a constant battle between your will and what your heart tells you to follow.
The practice -- your practice -- should most importantly be viewed as something equally as unique as you are. You are there to give your body what it needs, and nothing more. Some days your body may ask you to drive it, other days you will need to take it slow. Most days will be a constant battle between your will and what your heart tells you to follow. While often overlooked, the decision to suit up for your very first class is the initial step towards spiritual enlightenment, and is often considered by many as the most challenging stage of the journey. Still with us? Congratulations, you are well on your way to self discovery.
This being said, the studio you choose will prove to be one of the most pivotal determinants to your overall success. Places that are dark and drab could hinder one’s ability to tap into their own inner light, which ironically enough is touted as one of the practice’s core tenets. The bottom line is, if you don’t look forward to walking in, or if the space does not feel inviting, we strongly suggest considering other options.
But, one of the most important things to take note of when choosing a studio are its teachers. If you do not connect to a teacher, or feel their style or pace is wrong, it’s important not to force the issue. Instead, find a group of instructors that can effectively bridge the gap between your learning style and achieving complete awareness. Sample a few classes at multiple studios before you commit to your favorite one. Remember, it should fit the unique qualities that drive and fuel you to be happy. Listen to your intuition.
If you are worried about getting through a class in itself, trust us, you are not alone. Here are some tips and tricks that can help make this process a more enjoyable one:
Don’t walk into to a yoga class thinking you are going to be able to get through all the poses. Your body has no idea what you are about to put it through and there is something to be said about muscle memory.
Your mind and body will thank you for it
Start off by focusing on proper breathing techniques, and if all else fails, child’s pose (the one where you basically cocoon onto yourself) could in fact be your saving grace. Practice both, long inhales and long exhales to slow down your heart rate, and whatever you do, don’t walk away.
Stay the course. The hardest part in any yoga practice is learning to overcome mental and physical fatigue. You will hear that a lot in your journey. Confront it head on and be sure to push through. Your mind and body will thank you for it.
Yin vs. Flow
Flow. One of the (now laughable) no-no’s I did when taking my first ever yoga class was to do hot power yoga. That I almost fainted and basically ran out of it mid-class is not a lie. Not hydrating throughout the day was big mistake number two. Yin Yoga would be a great place to start if it’s offered. Yin is an easier option because it is much slower. That said, the poses are held for longer so be prepared to be uncomfortable. Flow is a little bit harder than Yin because you must match your breath to each movement, and the class flows much like a dance from one pose to the next.
But the best advice we could leave you with is this: Practice at home first. If you are shy about walking into to class all “deer-in-the-headlights,” it may be best to familiarize yourself with at least some of the key terms/names used more commonly in any yoga practice Acclimating yourself with the main poses is key in building a strong foundation. Early knowledge of such moves as “Mountain Pose,” “Forward Fold,”and “Upward Dog” can help you transition from one to the other, helping to bolster confidence in ways previously unattained.
Be kind to yourself and celebrate the little victories. The battle is a long and tedious one, however, can be won with a little bit of knowledge and a whole lot of persistence. Are you up for the challenge?