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 six tips I discovered over the years in yoga to help you start your practice.
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.
The Sticky Mat
Before you buy a mat, try a few classes to make sure you like yoga. Most studios and gyms have mats for your to use. There are many different varieties and price points, ask an instructor for their opinion on mats to guide you in the right direction.
Mats can range anywhere from $10 to $80. Some are extremely thin and some extremely thick. There are mats that have lines to help you stay aligned throughout your practice. Other mats are made for hot yoga instead of room temperature. Again, speak to an instructor or go online and read reviews about yoga mats to determine what's right for you.
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.
Yoga is a Mind and Body Practice
In yoga, you let must everything go and quiet the mind. You will learn to link breath to movement, which will help clear your head and focus on your practice. This is one of the most beneficial techniques to learn in yoga. Your breathing will help your mind focus on each pose and help you hold that pose.
Just remember, no matter what level you're at, or how long you can hold a handstand, breathing will farther you along in your practice
Child's pose is a resting pose. I always begin my practice with it and I go to it through out my practice. Most instructors will advise you to "go to Child's pose" at any time when you need a rest.
This pose allows your body to find awareness of the hard work you have accomplished in your practice and honor yourself.
Trial and Error
If you take a class in a studio with a teacher whose style isn't your cup of Chai, then try another teacher or class or studio altogether. You will not be able to focus on yourself if you are frustrated with the instructor or style. Find a class that you feel comfortable in to enjoy your practice.