Alternative MethodsConventional Methods

February 7

A Beginner's Guide to Yoga

Reading time 2 min.

Starting any sort of new exercise regime can be intimidating. This is especially true if it involves wearing form fitting clothes in a room full of people and floor-to-ceiling mirrors. While yoga is often seen as compassionate and universally accepting, it can still be a little scary to go into your first class if you don’t have any prior experience. If you’re brand new to the world of yoga and it’s something you want to try out, here is some basic information that you might find beneficial.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is much more than simply exercise. Many people view it as an integral part of their spiritual practice. It’s a way to calm one’s mind and strengthen and tone one’s body at the same time. Although in its most basic form yoga is a series of poses and stretches, it is intended to integrate and align one’s mind, body, and spirit to create a sense of both deep self-awareness and harmony with the outside world.

Why is it so Popular?

From the trendy clothes to “Mommy and Me” classes, yoga is irrefutably popular. But why? There are a couple of reasons. For one thing, it is incredibly accessible. Classes are taught in elementary school P.E. classes as well as senior community centers. All ages, races, genders, body types, socioeconomic groups, and religions can partake in it. It can also be modified as needed for anyone. Poses can easily be adjusted for those with restricted flexibility. For example, chair yoga is incredibly popular for seniors and people with limited mobility. Poses can also be enhanced or lengthened for more advanced students. However, the most plausible explanation for its universal appeal is probably because it combines both physical exercise and meditative calmness. It can be hard to find time for yourself in today’s fast-paced, frenetic world and yoga is one way people can feel calm and centered in the midst of chaos.

Take a Beginner’s Class

One of the great things about this ancient practice is that you don’t need an instructor. You can follow along with a DVD or even practice on your own. However, if you’re just starting out it’s a good idea to go to a beginner’s class where an instructor can watch your movements to ensure you’re not injuring yourself. You should probably take several beginning classes before moving on. What you learn in these classes is the foundation to everything you’ll be doing later on. You want to make sure you’re very comfortable with all the poses before you try a more advanced class. Also, it’s important to find a reputable studio. Ask your friends and co-workers for a referral and be sure to check out online reviews.

Enhance Your Experience

There are a couple of things you can do to enhance your experience. You may have heard of hot yoga. The classes themselves are similar, but they occur in rooms heated to 105 degrees. The hotter temperature can help you burn more calories, increase your cardiovascular performance, and also improve your flexibility. There are also certain supplements you can take that can provide extra benefits. Branched-chain amino acids, commonly known as bcaa, are taken to increase muscle growth and enhance your exercise performance. Some studies also show they can help with weight loss efforts. You can try taking these before a session and see if you notice a difference.

Becoming a Successful Yogi

One of the most important things to becoming a successful yoga practitioner (or yogi) is patience. This isn’t something that you will become great at overnight. It requires practice and repetition. You’ll need to go the same poses repeatedly. You’ll also need to be consistent. Find a class that you really enjoy and commit to it.

There’s one last thing to know before you set out to find a studio. Most classes end with the instructor leading the group in a collective “om” chant. This is a sacred Hindu and Tibetan practice that symbolizes consciousness. It might seem a little odd at first, but after you get used to it you’ll find yourself looking forward to it.


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