For those of you who have been thinking about taking a yoga class, but are just unsure of how to go about it, here is an article that I wrote for That’s Fit Canada. No more excuses, time to get on your mat!
I meet people all the time who tell me that they can’t do yoga because they’re not flexible enough. Time and time again, I say the same thing to each and every person; yoga isn’t about putting your leg behind your head.
Here’s what else I say to them. If you want to: increase your strength, improve your stability, practice patience, learn to ‘let go’, reduce stress, develop awareness, reduce pain, sleep better or nurture a relationship with yourself, then you should definitely be doing yoga!
Entering a yoga class for the very first time can be very intimidating. At my very first class, I sat at the back of the room with a friend who was also new to the practice. The class was packed, and I felt my stomach doing back flips. I remember the teacher walking in and placing her mat at the front and the room going quiet. All of sudden, she started to give directions and people started to move. I followed with uneasiness. I kept looking up every few seconds to see what everyone else was doing. I was always a few seconds behind. Everyone seemed like they were breathing in unison, while every time I tried to breathe deeply, I coughed. My whole body felt tight. I especially felt self-conscious when the teacher would come up to me and make adjustments. That said, it felt within the blink of an eye that ninety minutes had passed and next thing I knew I was at a restaurant with my friend toasting each other for getting through our first yoga class.
I went back the following week and within a month, I could really feel my body changing; something had shifted in me. I felt lighter and happier. Six years later, I became a yoga teacher, who knew? If you were to ask me back then if I would have considered becoming a yoga teacher, I would’ve laughed. Really hard.
Now having taught many beginners, I can understand their uneasiness when they walk into my class for the first time. Like everything else, yoga has a learning curve. Mainly, you have to learn how to breathe and you have to familiarize yourself with the poses.
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE WAVERING, HERE ARE FIVE
TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED.
1. Sign-up for a beginner workshop: It’s usually a four-week commitment. You’ll learn the basics of yoga and be surrounded with other beginners. You’ll be in great hands, meaning a teacher who has prepared a class specifically for you. AND GUESS WHAT? Yours truly (that’s me), teaches a wonderful 4-week beginner class, click here for more info!
2. Go with a friend. If you can’t commit to a beginner class, go with a friend who does yoga. I have taken many friends with me and I answer their questions, give them a tour of the yoga studio, tell them what to expect and I help them out during class when they look lost. Chances are you’ll want to talk about your experience after the class, and you will probably be hungry! Sometimes, support is all you need.
3. Find the right class for you. There are so many types of yoga classes and choosing can be a tad confusing, OK – maybe really confusing. You want a yoga class that works best with your body and lifestyle. Do some research, talk to other people you know doing yoga, and be open to trying different classes and different yoga studios until you find something that works for you. Since you’re a beginner, do a level one class as opposed to an advanced class. Many yoga studios offer a one week unlimited pass to all first time students. There is also the Passport to Prana, which entitles you to check out one class at participating yoga studios in your city – all for a low price. Passport to Prana is available in both Canada and the U.S.
4. Find a teacher you connect with. Know that just like finding the ideal relationship or ideal job is a process, finding a teacher you connect with also takes time. The relationship you have with your teacher can really enhance your yoga practice.
5. Now, just do it. You’ve probably spent more mental energy thinking about it than the minutes it would take for you to do a class. Be patient with your practice and stick with it. You might feel a noticeable difference after one class or you may not; everyone is different so give your yoga practice a chance. My rule is stick with it for at least a month, but three months would be better. Who knows, maybe you’ll be up there teaching one day!
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