By: AJ Crowell, Publisher, Dallas Yoga Magazine
If you are new to yoga, then you may be apprehensive about starting your new adventure. We have all been there. That walk through the door of your first class may seem like it takes forever and when you get there everything is new and you are not sure what to do. My advice…EMBRACE IT! Realize everyone is new at some point and we have all felt the same way. Also, know that yogis are very helpful and supportive so make the choice to leave your fear behind.
The following are 10 tips for the beginner that can be very useful.
- Invest in a good sticky mat.
This does not mean you must go out and buy the most expensive one you find, but don’t buy the cheapest one you can find either. Go to a yoga store or go to a sporting goods store and check out the variety of mats they offer. Feel which one you are attracted to the most. Ask yourself, how does it feel? Is it too soft, too hard? It’s important to get a mat your hands and feet will not slip on, so make sure it’s not too slick. Ask questions, the sales people are there to assist you.
- Research the different types of yogas and find a beginner’s class.
If you don’t have any friends to ask about their favorite kind of yoga practice, then research the variety online. Find the one you think sounds like what you desire. You may have to go to several styles of classes to find your niche, but it’s worth the effort. Feel free to call the yoga centers or studios before deciding on the class you are going to attend and ask what classes they recommend for the new yogi.
- Wear comfortable clothing.
Once again, you do not have to rush out and buy the most expensive yoga pants on the market or an entire new workout wardrobe. However, you need to make sure your clothes are a little fitted. Oversized shirts and pants get in the way when posing and stretching and are often end up being more revealing then something that fits tighter.
- Get to class early and stay late.
You will want to arrive at class a little early to give yourself plenty of time to get adjusted to the space. Introduce yourself to the teacher and let her know you are new yoga student. Ask any questions you have and find a spot where you feel comfortable and lay out your mat. Most new students will have questions after class so make sure you stay and ask the teacher. Don’t be shy…ask, it’s the only way we can grow with our practice.
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
You are there for yourself, not anyone else, so don’t compare yourself to anyone during the class. Some people are very flexible and can do all the postures and balances that new yogis will not be able to do. Don’t expect to do in one day what others have been practicing for years. It’s a process and a journey and it does not happen overnight. It is alright to look at what others are doing if you need visual guidance, then refocus on yourself.
- Pay attention to your breath.
Yoga is about breathing. Paying attention to your breath flowing through your body is part of the yoga experience. Focus on breathing in and out, feel it, visualize it going through your body. Breath into the areas of your body that are tense or stressed. The breath guides you so you can turn your intentions inward and listen.
- Listen to your teacher.
It’s especially important when you are new to LISTEN to the teacher’s guidance and follow their directions. They have gone through a lot of training to become certified yoga instructors so they know what they are doing. Listening and following directions is the key for the newcomer.
- Pay attention to what your body is telling you.
If you are stretching and, for example, if your left leg is not as flexible as the right one, then listen to your body. If you feel a pain in your lower back in one of the postures, then listen to your body and modify the posture. Your teacher will offer suggestions. Do not over-do it and hurt yourself or exhaust yourself completely. If you get tired, don’t leave, just lay down on your mat. I have been to many hot yoga classes where people in the middle of class lay down for a while. It’s alright. Get back up when you are ready.
- Go as you are.
One of the best parts of being a woman who does yoga is that you “go as you are.” This means ditch the makeup, wash your face before class and just be you.
- Stay hydrated.
Remember to bring water to class because you will need it. Especially if you have chosen a hot yoga class. It’s important to know to drink during class, but it is just as important to know to drink before and after as well. Keeping yourself hydrated is part of any exercise routine and that includes yoga. Water will help wash your toxins out of your body after a challenging class and will keep your body energized.
AJ Crowell is the Publisher of Dallas Yoga Magazine and a Best Selling Author of “Loved Back to Life.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org