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I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible.
If I had a dollar…. I’m not flexible is just one of the many myths that prevent more people from enjoying the benefits of yoga. Saying you’re not flexible is precisely why you should do yoga, among other benefits which I’ll get into later.
Instagram is chock-full of pictures of beautiful people standing on their heads, twisted up in a Cirque du Soleil-like fashion.
If that’s your only exposure to yoga, then I totally get it. That is pretty intimidating, enough to scare most people away. Luckily, that’s only a small representation of what modern-day yoga actually is.
This article will tell you everything you need to get started with yoga even if you’re a total beginner.
WHAT IS YOGA?
Yoga is a practice that joins the mind, body, and spirit. It uses asanas (poses) and breathing techniques.
BENEFITS OF YOGA
The primary physical benefits of yoga include flexibility, balance, strength, and relaxation.
Yoga has also been incorporated to help manage other health conditions including migraines, stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and insomnia just to name a few.
There are many different types of yoga geared toward different ages, ability levels, goals, and interests. Hatha, Power, Vinyasa, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Restorative, Yin, Iyengar, Bikram, Hot Yoga. And more.
YOGA IS ACCESSIBLE
Yoga is very accessible no matter what your price point or location. Here are some ways you can add more yoga into your routine.
You can access tons of free yoga classes on YouTube. There are also affordable download and streaming options such as:
If you’re comfortable with the basics, a home practice can be a good way to add extra yoga into a busy schedule. It’s also a great way to save money on those pricey classes!
YOGA CLASSES AT YOUR GYM
Be sure to read class descriptions as yoga classes may be disguised as stretch, flow, or fusion classes.
The description will also tell you what level the class is intended for. If you’re a beginner look for the words gentle yoga, level 1 yoga, beginner yoga, or all levels welcome.
COMMUNITY OR DONATION-BASED CLASSES
Libraries or other community centers may be locations for these classes. (Sometimes local Lululemon or Athleta stores feature free classes!) Donation-based classes are a great way to check out a studio without committing.
PRIVATE YOGA STUDIOS
This is where you will typically find the best quality instruction. Studios offer many yoga classes several times/days per week and can provide that zen experience.
Average prices range from $10-25 per class, depending on the studio and location. Sales and new client packages are a great way to score deals.
But wait, I’m new and afraid of looking silly.
No one is there to judge you. Everyone is working on individual goals and challenges. And are just as concerned about you judging them. Just like real life, worry about you. Any good studio or class will be welcoming and judgment-free.
TIPS TO PREPARE FOR YOUR FIRST YOGA CLASS
TELL THE INSTRUCTOR YOU’RE NEW
Inform them of any injuries or conditions that may affect your ability to perform various poses. Some common conditions include osteoporosis, pregnancy, arthritis, joint replacements, recent or chronic injuries, etc. If you’re not sure, ask.
FIND A PLACE FOR YOUR MAT
Somewhere you can see and hear the instructor clearly. Take advantage of mirrors, they will help with form. Be mindful of personal space when setting up. It’s considered disrespectful to walk on someone else’s mat.
Don’t be that guy.
Observe the tone in the room. B
Make sure your phone is silenced, nothing ruins a Savasana like an unexpected call!
PROPS ARE YOUR FRIENDS
Blocks, blankets, straps, bolsters. Stock up.
They exist to make you more comfortable and to enhance your practice. There is no shame in using them. I use all of the above whenever I get a chance. Gather a few props to keep near your mat during the class. You can seamlessly grab a block and get right back to it.
WEAR COMFORTABLE CLOTHING
Wear something that does not restrict your movement. Bring a long sleeve top or sweater as studio temperatures are notoriously unpredictable.
MATS & PROPS MAY BE AVAILABLE
Confirm this prior to class. No worries if you don’t own a mat. Bring a towel for hygiene purposes if using a community mat.
When the time is right to invest in your own mat, Yoga Outlet has all the variety you need.
RESISTANCE VS PAIN
Always remember – listen to your body no matter what the instructor is telling you. No matter what the person next to you is doing.
Everyone is different and has their own injuries, comfort levels, and challenges. It’s not a competition.
As you move through poses, there will be different sensations such as stretching, pulling, resistance.
Pain should never be one of them.
Listen for modifications to help protect you. And if all else fails, take a child’s pose.
HONOR WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
Balance can be off, you can feel tight, mind distracted.
Do what you can do today. Manage your expectations and don’t be too hard on yourself.
TRY MULTIPLE INSTRUCTORS
The reality is not everybody loves everybody. It’s cool.
If you don’t care for a class or teaching strategy, etc., just try another instructor. You’ll find someone that resonates with you, but don’t be discouraged and give up forever.
…and avoid eating a large meal too close to class.
READY TO GET ON THE MAT?
Including yoga can help you create a well-rounded exercise program.
Even one time per week or smaller 20 min sessions at home to fit your schedule will have a positive impact on your overall wellness.
Flexibility is often forgotten, start today.