How to Get into Yoga: A Guide to Start Your Practice

Yoga has been gaining a steady following for the last several years, and it might have caught your eye. Now you find yourself wondering how to get started. The good news is that yoga is an easy exercise to get into, and there are several ways to get into it. Your comfort level is going to shape the beginning of your practice, and the flexibility of yoga will let you continue to shape into what works best for you. There is not a lot of equipment that you need; when you start, all you need is a set of clothes, like these and a mat. In fact, if you are going to a studio or have a soft carpet, you do not even really need the mat.

In Studio

Many different gyms and yoga studios offer introductory packages. These are a great way to give yoga a try. It lets you test out your practice, and it also helps you find a studio and instructor that fits you. Studios are great resources, and the instructors can be very helpful. Introductory classes are going to be geared towards yoga newbies, like yourself. The poses will be less advanced, with the goal of introducing you to the mindset and feeling of yoga. The instructors of beginner classes are well aware that many of their students are new and are going to provide hands on instruction to make sure you are learning all you can. It can also introduce you to new people, who are also interested in what yoga can add to their lives.


At Home Instruction

While the comradery and hands on instruction might be what you are looking for, many other people can find the social aspect intimidating. This is not going to hold you back. There are DVDs, podcasts, and online video all over the internet that can guide you through a beginner practice. With all the content available to you, you can spend some time finding the source that speaks to you the best. This is an important step because yoga practice is such an individual thing and finding a reliable and relatable source will help grow you. Video and podcast led yoga have a very low cost of entry, as most of these are free to watch. With access to these videos you can begin your practice in the comfort of your own home.

Your own personal comfort level is going to determine if a studio environment or a home-based environment is the best place to start your practice. A classroom setting can provide a social experience, as well as give you hands on instruction and feedback. However, it can be expensive just to try it out, and the social aspect can be somewhat daunting. Home based practices are an alternative, with low cost and no pressure. Guides on a number of internet platforms can be found to help you through as your practice grows. There are positives to both, and it is recommended that you utilize both as your practice grows.

There is something missing from these, the human connection. However, you may find that as you practice, your confidence rises enough so a studio is not so overwhelming.


Trying Yoga in Another Language

Traveling can be a wonderful opportunity to form new experiences and entertain a new perspective on life. However, booking a trip overseas can also pose a threat to a devoted yogi’s practice schedule. While you can practice yoga anywhere that you want to, many yogis enjoy having a teacher to lead them in their practice. Of those travelling yogis who prefer to follow an instructor’s guidance within the structure of a class or group setting, one of the main concerns faced is that they will not be able to follow along in a yoga class that is conducted in another language. Don’t let language scare you away from the nearest studio! Read on to learn some of the benefits.

One of the benefits of taking a yoga class conducted in a foreign language is that it allows you to better focus on your breathing. If you cannot understand all of the instructor’s words, it can quickly push your mind to race to something it can understand: your breath and your body. This is a wonderful opportunity to shut off one of your brain’s running programs, language, and turn to a more focused awareness of your breath.

Practicing yoga with guidance in a foreign language pushes you to rely on your other senses to experience your practice. Instead of listening to your teacher’s instructions, you may need to rely on your eyes to follow along. This shift in sensual engagement can provide a new perspective on your own practice. Perhaps you will notice something new about your practice when you place an emphasis on your sight rather than your hearing.

The opportunity to experience your practice in another way can also provide a valuable lesson: trusting yourself! Yogis who prefer group instruction rather than a solo practice sometimes tend to think they simply cannot practice alone. Of course, following an instructor’s guidance can be extremely beneficial in a person’s yoga journey. However, it is important not to rely solely on the instructor for the growth of your practice. When taking a class in another language, it may surprise you to realize that you can follow along just fine! If you have been practicing yoga for awhile, you probably know more sequences than you are aware of. This can provide a great lesson in trusting yourself.

The essentials of yoga are universal, no matter what language it is experienced in. The core principles of creating an awareness of your breath, your body, and your practice are present. Accepting the healing, positive energy that others express towards you and then sending your own positive, accepting love towards others can be extra special when shared outside of your native language. Yoga is a practice with universal principles that connect us all. Don’t shy away from a yoga studio that may operate in a foreign language! Take the chance to contribute to universal harmony on your next trip overseas.

Three Simple Yoga Flows You Can Practice Anywhere

Three Simple Yoga Flows You Can Practice Anywhere

I used to be a tennis player. I played for a Division I team in college. I was even a team captain my senior year and what that meant to me was that I needed to set a good example for my teammates. But my game had already been great and the things that made a difference were going on in my head rather than on the court.

I was lucky enough that my coach introduced us to yoga and it changed many things beyond my tennis performance for me. Maybe not instantly. But it definitely did looking back on it.

I came up with a few simple flows that instantly improved my performance, let that be on or off the court.

Start from mountain pose and with an inhale bring the shoulders up and back. Lower the shoulders with an exhale and so release all the tension from them (they tend to bear and show stress the most).

Second variation is to lift the your arms above your head, shoulders relaxed. With an exhale bring one of your arms back and the opposite in front, gaze at the back arm and follow its path, with an inhale meet above your head. Repeat on the opposite side and do as many repetitions as you like. Twists release toxins. Just make sure to intake enough water to flush them out of your system too. 

The third is the most intricate of the three. Start from mountain grounding. Root yourself on one leg. Lift the knee of the opposite. Open up the hip and place the sole of the lifted leg either above the ankle, below the knee or on the inside of your thigh (make sure it is not pressing into the knee). Arms in prayer. Tree pose. With an inhale bring the knee back to the front and with the exhale place the knee to the ground. Repeat on the opposite side. If your practice level allows you, you can go into deeper stretches like half-moon or royal dancer. Then use either chair pose or mountain grounding to wrap the sequence.

Obviously, you don’t need to go to a studio to practice these. It is just what I learned from yoga and chose (mindfully or not) to apply to other areas of my life.

You don’t even need to call it yoga, those are just instances during your daily whereabouts where you decide to honor yourself. And boy, there are a lot of things to be proud of each day and accomplishments make us all feel good and give us strength to carry on the good work. Plus focusing on deep breathing and gentle stretching, or as called in yoga Pranayama, are intricately connected to happiness as shown by a study conducted at Oxford University.

Any time is a good time to honor yourself and you can simply do that by bringing the shoulders up and back, opening up the heart and giving yourself more confidence as you’re now leading with your chest.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Namaste.