Are you a beginner to yoga? No problem!
By Jenny Hindley
Are you intimidated to start yoga, thinking that you’re not “flexible enough”, or not “fit enough”? Don’t worry! There is a yoga class out there for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level.
Want some tips for your first class??
It is normal to be nervous for your first class. Starting something new can be scary, but rest assured that there is nothing to worry about! Ideally, we breathe in and out through the nose in yoga, but it is even more important not to hold your breath. Remember that yoga is not competitive. This can be difficult to remember because so much in our culture and society is. Here are a few more important tips before you head to class:
• Find a class that will be suitable for you. Choose a level 1 class to begin with until you get to know the teaching style in the class.
• Go in early and meet the teacher. Inform them of any concerns you may have. If you have any injuries or health concerns, please take the time to get the go ahead from your doctor before you proceed. Even then it is important to inform your teacher of your health concerns so they offer you modifications and other options for your safety, comfort and enjoyment.
• Don’t let your ego get in the way of your enjoyment or cause you to push past your limits. Your poses may not look exactly like the teacher’s poses or your neighbors. Yoga postures are to be done with the intent of feeling good on the inside and receiving tension release . Bodies are built differently, and everyone should look different. There is no perfect pose. In reputable yoga classes, modifications are encouraged and welcomed!
• Not everyone in yoga is “skinny and fit”. All types of bodies come to yoga, and there is no ideal body shape. There is also no such thing as “not flexible enough”. Like my point above, everyone’s poses are their own, and perfect for them!
• Come to class well hydrated, and don’t go in with an empty tummy (although you shouldn’t have a big meal right before). A little snack beforehand (something like yogurt, smooth the or fruit is ideal) and will make sure you make it through the class without getting hungry!
• Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Practicing yoga in clothing that is too tight may result in discomfort and make it difficult for you to enjoy your class.
• Listen to the intuition of your own body. Everybody’s body is different and you are the best expert on your own body. If you feel pain, stop. If you are concerned about injury, just take a moment, rest and resume the class in the next posture. Yoga is about developing awareness and not about making a pose look in any particular way. Your primary goal is to leave the class feeling better than you felt when you walked in.
• Let your mind be open. The class may be different from what you are used to, but you may find that you will enjoy it more than you expect!
• Remember that everyone in the class has had a first class once too! Don’t be concerned about not being knowledgeable about the poses. We all have to start somewhere!
• If you don’t enjoy your first class, don’t be discouraged! It may take a few different classes to find a type of yoga that resonates best with you!
When choosing a class, think about what your goals are. Some yoga is more about the practice of physical postures while others have both a physical and a spiritual goal. The spiritual goals are often be as simple as building confidence or self acceptance.
Read the following descriptions and choose classes that you think will give you the most enjoyment and help you achieve your goals. The following list describes the types of yoga that are usually perfect for beginners:
• Gentle Therapeutic Yoga: This class is designed to help release tension and promote relaxation. Anyone suffering from injury or illness can learn techniques to help deal with pain and calm the mind. Throughout the class, we explore different breathing techniques and learn postures that are restorative and healing. In addition, we make use of various yoga props such as foam blocks and bolsters in order to increase the benefits of certain poses. The class finishes with a meditation.
• Hatha Yoga: Hatha will help you to strengthen, stretch, tone and relax your entire body. Whether you are trying to feel more comfortable in your body, cope with work related stress, get in better shape or simply stretch tight muscles this hatha yoga class will help you achieve your goal. You will leave this class with a deep sense of relaxation, healthier breathing patterns and a body/mind that is completely free of tension.
• Hatha Flow Yoga: A typical class includes balancing postures to improve the health of the nervous system, spine strengthening postures and deeper, nourishing stretches on the floor. In this class hatha postures are sequenced to allow fluid movement from one asana to the next. Modified versions of postures are offered, making this class suitable for beginners and people with injuries. More challenging options are also offered to more experienced students.
• Yin yoga: Give your body the opportunity to fully rejuvenate in a relaxing yin yoga class. Hip opening postures are held longer than in a traditional hatha yoga class. Holding poses for 3-5 minutes encourages the connective tissue to feel more elastic, providing you with an increase of range of motion and a feeling of space within. This is a practice which stretches and re-balances even the most stubborn tendons, ligaments and fascia in the body. Old scar tissue melts away. The muscles on both sides of the body are lengthened and brought into harmony. This class also encourages a release of blockages, allowing energy to flow within our meridians. This is a practice which stretches and re-balances even the most stubborn tendons, ligaments and fascia in the body. Old scar tissue melts away. The muscles on both sides of the body are lengthened and brought into harmony. This class also encourages a release of blockages, allowing energy to flow within our meridians.
• Candlelight Gentle Flow: This is a class to relax, unwind, and relieve tension in the body, heart, and mind. This class will combine the mellow flowing sequence of classic hatha yoga with longer seated poses as well as breathing and relaxation exercises. A delightful way to end the week!
• Specialty yogas: Specialty classes include yoga for runners and prenatal yoga. These classes are tailored to a specific type of clients, and may be suitable for someone with injuries. If you are unsure if you should be doing yoga checking in with your doctor is always advisable though.
For more information about additional features of these classes, please go to our class descriptions page.
An important thing to remember is that Yoga is different from many other forms of exercise such as dance in that it is only important how the pose feels on the inside of the body, not how it looks on the outside. Relax, enjoy and accept yourself exactly as you are in the present moment.
By Jenny Hindley
Jenny is currently a yoga teacher trainee in the Spring 2012 Feel Good Yoga Teacher Training program.