9 Things You Must Know Before You Start Practicing Yoga
Yoga is such an exciting practice. Its awareness is spreading across the world like wildfire. Everyone seems to be extremely curious to know how a practice that involves stretching can be a solution to so many problems. If you are one among them, here is a guide to what you should know before you join the yoga club.
At the outset, yoga is all about discovering that much-required awareness of your body in both space and time. Whether you assume an inversion, or you are asked to pay attention to a certain movement in your body, when you begin your practice, it may seem awkward. But, consider being open to that learning curve. It’s not as challenging as it may seem – you just need to give it time. With the help of this basic guide, you will know what to expect in your very first class.
1- Eat On Time
It is essential that your stomach and bowels are empty before you commence your practice. You must leave a gap of two to four hours between your last meal and your workout. Practicing on a full stomach may make you uncomfortable
2- Do Not Quit Impulsively
You might love the idea of yoga, but might be disappointed after you join a class. Well, do not lose hope just yet. Try at least three different studios and styles of yoga before you decide that yoga is not for you.
A large bit of the practice also depends on the teacher you chose to guide you through your yoga journey. In fact, it is a must to practice yoga under an experienced trainer. It is alright if you like one teacher more than the other. It is important to connect with and understand your instructor.
Never hesitate to ask your teacher or yoga studio if you need clarification about something. Seek and you shall find!
3- Do It For Yourself
Yoga gives you the much-required break. It is time for yourself. You may find yourself being introspective and focused on you as a being. You may notice this more and more as you continue the yoga practice. Indulge in what feels good, and experiment so that you can discover something new about yourself every time you get on the mat. Everyone’s body is different, so do what feels best for you.
4- Allow Yourself To Relax
It is sad that in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we deem relaxation as a luxury. Resting and relaxing are necessary. Creating that zen or balance in life is essential. Yoga helps release trapped stress and makes you relax.
Also, take time to rest in between postures if you feel the need. If you feel a posture getting too intense, and your body craves a break, assume Balasana or Child’s Pose. Listen to your body.
5- Pay Attention To Your Breath
The postures and breathing go hand in hand. It is imperative to focus on your breath and coordinate the movements every time you inhale and exhale. Breathing helps you focus your mind and relax your body. Remember, you will be able to progress better when you are aware of your breathing.
6- Push Yourself, But Do Not Force A Pose
You have to listen to your body. While it is important to push yourself to progress, if your body says no, listen to it and stop immediately. Yoga is about breaking free of inhibitions, and not going through pain. Also, you must gradually progress. You may not achieve a pose completely, but you can work in that direction. It is important to do each pose with integrity and intention, which builds character off the mat and in daily life.
Every pose has a modification and advancement. If you do not get the current posture right, you do not have to progress to the next step.
Also, remember that injury is a reality, and it does happen in yoga. Follow the teacher’s guidance, listen to your body and minimize any risks
7- Do Not Compare
Never compare yourself with your fellow practitioners. Yoga is a non-competitive practice. Just be aware of your own abilities.
Yoga can be done by just about anyone irrespective of age, fitness levels, health, etc. It is important to understand that yoga is a journey and not a destination. It is all about the union of the mind, body, and spirit. Concentrate on that, and not on what or how the person next to you performs.
8- Yoga Can Be Intense – But It Doesn’t Have To Be
There are different kinds of people all around, and while some like their workout to be fast-paced and intense, others like a smooth, slow sailing form of exercise. Yoga is a set of stretches, and depending on what you want, you could pick the faster paced Bikram Yoga, Hot Yoga, Vinyasa or Ashtanga Yoga, or the slower paced Yin Yoga, Iyengar Yoga or Kundalini Yoga forms. Whatever you choose, the benefits will remain the same. Yoga has something for everyone! A little bit of research and you will find your calling.
9 - You Do Not Have To Be Ultra Flexible
You might shun the idea of yoga, simply because you are not strong or flexible, and cannot even imagine doing the Ashtavakrasana, or whatever it is that your neighbor can.
While you are joining a yoga class to become strong and flexible, it is not a prerequisite. Nobody is watching you!
You must also remember that yoga is not about visual appearances. A typical yoga studio may not have mirrors. This is because the focus should be on your stretch and how you feel, and not on how you look.
First and foremost, you must have patience when you practice yoga. Yoga does not yield results in a day, and it is only about a month after you begin practicing that you will see noticeable results. But you will see results for sure, and these are a few to name.
1. Reduced stress
2. Improved, enhanced posture
3. Enhanced flexibility and strength
4. Relaxed breathing
5. Clarity of thoughts
6. Improved self-esteem
7. Ideal weight
8. A boost of energy
9. Inner peace and happiness
When I make a statement like this, it doesn’t mean you don’t practice with commitment; it just means that you must have fun as you practice. Enjoy this long and never-ending journey of improving your flexibility and activating your muscles. Yoga is not a passive practice – indulge in it, and take an interest in every move you make. Learn and improve as you go on, but most importantly, smile through your daily practice.