Has yoga crossed your mind? You’re informed it’s a worthwhile practice, but now what? How do you find a studio or know what style that’s right for you? What the heck is Kripalu? Everyone starts in the same boat. It can be intimidating the first couple times, but over time you will be comfortable.Here are a few “Best Yoga Tips for Beginners”
1.Where Do I Practice Yoga?
Where ever you decide to practice—whether it’s in a YMCA, a gym or yoga studio, start with an entry level class. There are many different forms of yoga and some can be quite vigorous in intensity and fast moving.
You may already be an athlete, you may already be in shape, but when it comes to yoga, form is everything. Alignment is everything in yoga. It’s important to learn correct posture for each pose and understand that feeling.
Many Studios describe their classes as “All Levels.” This means anyone is welcome. But learning the poses in a beginner class first will help you feel most at ease, when attending an “All Level” class.
Remember, even when you are a seasoned yogi, always keep a beginner’s mind. It may look just like stretching and bending, but you’ll find it’s so much more. Many years down the road, you may still find yourself discover something new about each pose and your body.
2.Understand the Names
Classes may be labeled Power, Bikram, Vinyasa, Classical, Iyengar, Kripalu or Forrest (to name a few). These are all branches off the same Tree, whose roots are Hatha. These styles can be vastly different.Try to explore a variety of classes and see what they have to offer. Fina a Hatha or Classical class, and then go from there. This way you’ll always remember your roots.
3.Invest in a sticky mat.
This may seem like a minor matter, but the security that comes from firm footing is hard to overrate. If you have never tried a mat, borrow a friend’s so that you can feel the difference it makes in any of the spread-legged postures and in the downward-facing dog pose. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll probably want your own.
4.Define your practice.
The practice routine you create depends a good deal on you. Define the time you have available for practice, the technique you would like to focus on, and the balance among meditation, breathing, and asana practices. Then consider the details. Are you clear about the order of your practice and the methods you are using? Are there aspects of an asana that need attention or that intrigue you? If a posture or any other practice seems too difficult, could you break it down, or prepare for it with less challenging techniques? What are the steps in the relaxation or meditation methods you have learned? If you have questions, make sure to ask your teacher for help.
5.Make space in your home.
By practicing in the same place at home you create a groove in your mind—the memory of past days’ experiences makes it easier to begin today. Store props nearby so that getting started doesn’t require a lot of running around. An inspiring image or statue, an Oriental carpet, or a specially selected cushion can mark this place as special.
6.Build a small library of books and CDs.
Yoga videos are invaluable. They offer experience with different styles of yoga as well as with different levels of practice. And audio recordings is a great way to internalize the relaxation and meditation practice of your choice.
In addition, a library of a dozen or so yoga-related books will provide a lifelong source of information. My choices would include two to three manual-style books offering practice suggestions and an overview of yoga; a copy of the Bhagavad Gita (Juan Mascaró’s translation is an inspiring starting version); a basic anatomy workbook; a copy of the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali (How to Know God remains a good beginning choice); a book devoted to the spirit and practice of meditation; something on yoga philosophy; an introduction to Ayurveda; and three books that inspire you. Build your library slowly.
7.Take breathing breaks.
Breathing is a powerful tool for managing stress. And while a few moments of breath awareness can definitely short-circuit a fit of anger or a moment of anxiety, you might consider extending your breathing breaks and using them on a more regular basis—refreshing yourself for a few minutes or longer once or twice every day. During your break you can close your eyes and count your breaths, or you can simply relax the tensions that have crept into the respiratory muscles. You’ll find that a five-minute period of breath awareness will soothe the subtle strain of daily thinking and recharge your mind. Place reminders (Brake for Breathing!) at one or two key places in your home or office. Better yet, don’t let an afternoon go by without using five minutes for this sort of mini-meditation.
8.Go to bed on time.
That romantic dream of getting up early for a long asana and meditation practice followed by whole-wheat waffles and a stroll around the block won’t happen unless you work on the other end of the equation: going to bed on time. Once you have whittled your late-night activities and moved your bedtime to a reasonable hour you can consider making changes in your morning schedule. But give yourself plenty of time for adjustments—months rather than days or weeks. Expect to feel better when you’re done.
Good luck. Now stay consistent.