Have you found yourself to be yoga curious? Wondering, will it be a good workout? Do I need to be flexible? Do I need to know how to meditate? How will I know if I’m doing it right? Will I injure myself? Wait, my body can’t do THAT!
Woah there buddy! That accelerated quickly!
Lets all take a breath, and see how this unfolds.
Thats where it starts, one deep belly expanding breath. Lungs full, expanding your chest cavity and calming your nervous system. I mean, that’s all yoga really is. That simple.
My teacher as parting words at the end of teacher training says to me “its all in the Asana, just do the Asana.” But wait what this Asana thing? Asana is the physical practice, the bending, stretching and strengthening all done in time with the breath. It’s not specific to any crazy pose, it’s movement with breath. If your bodies Asana is sitting in a chair rising and lowering your arms with your breath, that is your Asana. It is your practice. This is why I love yoga, it changes for each person but the core is constant, its all in the asana.
Yoga is an ancient science that encourages self study of the body and the mind. A regular practice under proper guidance can strengthen both the body and the mind.
Have I peaked your curiosity? OK, good. So, now that you are even more curious let’s get some of your questions answered.
If you are reading this, most likely the first step is choosing a class type and level.
If you are in a community where there are a lot of options the choice can become overwhelming. No choice means no growth. So, just make a choice, get it right, or wrong, doesn’t matter. Just choose.
A few definitions to help you make an informed choice:
Hatha: A series of yoga poses. Poses are meant to be practiced with full engagement of your body and mind, action, counter action and counter counter action.
Vinyasa/Vinyasa flow: A series of poses interlaced with constant flowing movement. Poses are meant to be practiced with full engagement of your body and mind, action, counter action and counter counter action.
Ashtanga: A rigorous and specific series of poses practiced at a quick pace. Poses are meant to be practiced with full engagement of your body and mind, action, counter action and counter counter action.
Yoga Nidra: Guided meditation sometimes with movement sometimes with stillness intended for effortless relaxation leading to a quiet body and mind in blissful awareness
Yin Yoga: A series of passive poses practiced with relaxed muscles. A kind of deep stretching.
Common threads through all of these (and other) types of yoga practice is to pair the physical movements along with the breath.
Levels: Yoga postures have pretty specific goals so learning them properly from the start helps you get the most benefit, prevent injury and can help heal old injuries.
Level 1: Classes will move moderate to slowly. Don’t let speed deceive you, holding a pose that is unfamiliar will challenge you in ways your body will find new and exciting. These classes will have clear physical descriptions or cues about where to move and place your body. If you are brand new to yoga, even if you are athletic this is where you belong. Getting a good foundation for your poses is key to remaining injury free and get the most value from your practice.
Level 2: Classes will move moderate to slow. Poses will be more diverse than level 1 and the cues will encourage you to immerse yourself more deeply (not necessarily a matter of flexibility) into the pose. Beginner-intermediate
Level 3: Classes will move at a broader range of pace depending on the type of class. These classes may have fewer details in the physical cues, more complicated transitions and poses. Intermediate
Level 4: Classes will vary widely depending on the discipline. This is for advanced students only.
Yoga compliments any workout or athletic activity and can stand alone as a sole activity.
When you enter a class do your best and forget the rest, everyone is doing the same. Check your ego at the door, this is not a place for competing with others, or even yourself. One day your body will like one activity, another it may reject it. No-one outside yourself is judging you. Do your best, forget the rest.
Are you interested in getting started? Where available a pose clinic or foundation class is a great place to start.