By Lara Alexiou
Yoga images bombard us daily. People are stretching, breathing, and meditating across all medias, all day long. While these frequent images provide a casual introduction to yoga, only an intimate personal practice in action reaps the rewards. Use these pointers to get started and discover for yourself how yoga relieves stress, alleviates chronic pain, and amplifies joy.
Make your first yoga class an authentic experience. With so many online yoga class options available, it’s tempting to hide at home behind your virtual class and shy away from walking into an actual studio surrounded by other people. While many quality online classes are available, find a local class to attend in person. Alignment can be tricky to decipher on your own when you first begin. You’ll maximize your results with a professional instructor’s expert eye on you. Plus, a yoga studio is designed to create a distraction free “zen zone” for everyone, and that’s hard to duplicate at home.
Inform the instructor before class about any injuries or health concerns. Your recent surgery or health diagnosis may be the last topic you want to discuss in a new place while meeting the instructor for the first time. However, this information is invaluable for your instructor to identify your specific needs within the class. Knowing prescribed restrictions ahead of time allows the instructor to discreetly and easily modify the postures to maximize your ease and benefits. Yoga is a rehabilitation tool for the body and the mind; don’t let fear, injuries or chronic conditions hold you back from experiencing yoga’s benefits.
Arrive early. Yoga helps alleviate stress but running late to your first class amplifies the nervous tension before you even begin. Why enter class flustered and distracted? Instead, arrive fifteen minutes early, meet your instructor and settle into the studio.
Ask questions after class. Even a beginner yoga class can challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone. As a result, many first attempts in postures are wobbly, tentative, and even uncomfortable. Since most yoga classes employ a no taking rule during class, after class is the ideal time for questions. Wondering if a particular feeling is normal? Self-reflection and mindfulness are qualities a yoga practice encourages and seeks to develop. Your instructor will welcome your questions, desiring only for you to have the best class experience possible.
Attend three classes before passing judgment. While some of you will float out of your first class glowing and feeling totally renewed, many of you may feel uncertain about your experience. Attend three classes in order to tune into your body, the practice, and the studio. Many postures stretch not only your body, but also your boundaries. While you should not feel acute pain during class (be sure to see the teacher if you do), feeling uncomfortable and challenged is common and expected. Once you have a few classes under your belt, discomfort will transform into accomplishment, enriching your practice and leaving you craving more.
With countless yoga studios, teachers, and classes available today, if the first studio you try doesn’t meet your needs, find another. All studios have their own unique vibe and class offerings. Discover the class that speaks to your body, your mind, and you heart, and experience for yourself yoga’s healing touch.
About the author:
Lara Alexiou is the author of Become the Architect of Your Body, Mind, and Soul and owner of Steamtown Yoga.
She has been helping people transform their lives through the Eastern Healing Arts for nearly two decades. For more information and to read Alexiou’s yoga and wellness blog, visit her online at https://www.steamtownyoga.com/books and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.