04 Feb Nine best yoga tips if you are going to start practicing
My mother is 75 years old and recently started taking yoga classes in New Jersey. This proves that yoga is for everyone and that it is never too late to start a new practice!
Before his first class, he texted me a series of questions. That reminded me how important it is to support newcomers when they start. It was also a reminder of things that seem obvious to experienced practitioners and instructors, but may not be obvious to someone just starting out.
If you are new to yoga, keep reading and we will give you nine yoga tips that will help you!
Start Where You Are
It’s a good idea to contact the yoga studio and ask them to recommend a type of class that’s right for you. Tell them about your physical activity history, let them know if you have any injuries or limitations of any kind. Even with gentle yoga classes, there are always differences between the instructors. The person in charge of the study can help you find the best starting point for you.
It’s best to start with a beginner-specific class where you’ll learn basic postures, alignment, and breathing fundamentals. If there are no beginner classes, start with a gentle yoga class. Easy classes move at a slower pace, allowing you to comfortably learn postures and breathing. After this, many choose gentle yoga as their main practice, while others will choose more physically rigorous classes. It makes more sense to go easy on learning a new discipline than to be pressuring yourself in a class you’re not ready for.
Try to arrive about 15 minutes before class starts. This will give you time to settle in, find out where the dressing room is, and get used to the energy of the place. Running into a yoga class will bring all your anxious energy to the mat. My new students sometimes confess to being nervous about taking their first class, which is perfectly normal. Try not to add to this beginner stress by being late.
Be sure to introduce yourself and let your teacher know that you are new to this discipline. I always try to approach new students and ask if they come in with any physical or emotional concerns. Don’t be shy: it’s the best thing you can do for yourself, talk about what you’re facing. Your instructor may, for example, offer you some poses with useful modifications designed for you.
Choose A Good Place
After working for many years in the field of education, I realized that there are many people who feel a natural attraction to the last row of a class. Yoga classes are no exception, with many first-timers opting for the back row when they start. But, depending on the layout of the room and the number of people in the class, that may not be the best option. Better make sure you place your mat where you can hear and see the teacher well.
Set An Intention
Most yoga classes begin with a moment to breathe and center before moving on to the poses. Perhaps the teacher presents a theme or an intention or objective for the class. Consider using this time to set your own intention. For example, you might decide to focus on deep breathing throughout class or practice not judging yourself or others. Being grateful for the opportunity to do yoga to take care of your body is another way to ground your practice. Whatever your approach, put it in your mind whenever you need some inspiration or use it simply to motivate yourself to come to yoga class.
Listen To Your Body
One of the most common prompts in a yoga class is: “listen to your body”. When she was new to yoga, she wasn’t quite sure what that meant. But, as you evolve in your practice, the connection with your body becomes deeper and it is easier to understand this. In the meantime, just remember that yoga shouldn’t hurt. If you feel sharp pain, immediately come out of the pose or return to what I call a “base” pose: Child’s Pose, Mountain Pose, or Easy Pose.
You will find new sensations, challenges, or openings in your body, this is completely normal and beneficial. If you are ever in doubt as to whether what you are feeling is safe for you, err on the side of caution and come out of the pose. Something else: use your breath as an indicator. If it becomes jerky, unstable, or you find yourself holding your breath, it may be a sign that you have exceeded your limits. Take a break and take a few deep breaths before returning to practice.
Eyes On Your Mat
When I was in high school, my English teacher asked me to stay a few minutes after class to talk to me. He told me that every time he handed me a paper or a test, I would look at my grade and then crane my neck to see the grade of others. “If you’re always comparing yourself to others, you’ll go crazy,” she told me. Twenty years later, I still remember that wise advice.
Yoga is not a competition. Grades are not given. Nobody wins or loses. We practice progress, not perfection. So what does it matter if your neighbor can go deeper into chair pose than you can? Maybe you’ve been practicing it longer or your body is built differently. Keep your eyes on your own mat and focus on moving in a way that works for your body and your needs.
Enjoy Your Savasana
For a large part of the students, both those who are just starting out and those who have been doing yoga for a while, savasana can be the most difficult posture in the class. As we are used to being in constant movement, just being still with ourselves and our thoughts without distracting movements can be a new experience.
It also happens that some new students tell me that they get stressed in savasana because they can’t stop their thoughts. But the idea that one “must stop thoughts” in savasana is wrong. Instead of trying to stop them, just notice them, release them, and then return your focus to your breath. You can get caught up in a lot of thoughts during savasana, you just have to come back to your breath again and again and let your body loosen up on the mat.
Go Back To Class
Yoga is a practice of accumulation. I often see faces light up after the first class. But if yoga doesn’t “click” right away, then give it more time. Try different styles of classes and different instructors until you find the one that’s right for you. With application and regularity, you will soon begin to reap the many benefits that yoga brings!
My mom no longer texts me with questions. Instead, she sends me messages of appreciation and excitement for the lessons she is learning and the gifts she is receiving. If you are a beginner, enjoy the lessons that she always brings the new. Take into account your needs during the process, seek the support you need, and think that everything happens in its own time.
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