Yoga is a popular practice worldwide that combines breathing, movement, and meditation. Imported to the United States from India more than a century ago, yoga has long been lauded for its physical and mental benefits.
Research shows that yoga can help manage stress,Alleviate depression and anxiety,Improve mood,And enhance the quality of sleep.Additionally, yoga has been shown to increase flexibility, improve balance and coordination, reduce pain, and increase strength.
Taking your first yoga class may seem overwhelming, but it’s not something to worry about if you know what to expect. A typical yoga class is 45 minutes to 90 minutes. Depending on the teacher and style, it usually begins with focusing on the breath, transitions into poses known as asanas for the majority of the class, and sometimes ends with meditation to cool down.
Basics of Yoga
The best way to learn yoga is to do it, but if you’re nervous about taking a class, don’t be afraid to learn a little before joining. Consider the following.
Types of Yoga
Classes come in many different styles of yoga, so you should read class descriptions at your local yoga studios to find a class that’s right for you. Popular types include:
- Hatha yoga Classes tend to be good for beginners because they move more slowly.
- Vinyasa, Ashtanga and strength yoga Classes may be more difficult, depending on the level of instruction.
- Iyengar places great emphasis on proper alignment and often uses props to help students perfect their form.
- Hot yoga Yoga is yoga practiced in hot environments — many gyms reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Many people like to practice yoga in hot temperatures, but those who are sensitive to heat or have certain medical conditions may find hot yoga uncomfortable .
- Kundalini yoga is the term for “a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine.” In Kundalini yoga, practitioners use breathing exercises, physical postures, chanting, and meditation to unleash this energy. It has been known to aid in the healing of addiction.
Yoga has a strong focus on breathing, which research shows can really be effective when it comes to your health.
“Yoga is about breathing,” says Jenay Rose, 500-hour registered yoga teacher, online fitness trainer and social media influencer. “The hardest part is showing up, so if you can master the breath, you’re practicing.”
Depending on the studio and instructor, pose names may be referenced in either Sanskrit or English, or a combination of them. This can be confusing the first few times you take a class.
Review some of the most common poses to familiarize yourself with their English and Sanskrit names, as well as their basic form.
Favorite moves like child pose (balasana) and facing down dog (adho mukha svanasana) are included in most yoga classes. Other popular poses and sequences include warrior pose and sun salutation.
Most studios encourage students to bring yoga mats to class, but if you don’t have your own, they’re often available to rent for a small fee. Check with your local studio to see what their protocol is. Otherwise, you may not need much at all.
Studios and gyms often provide all the equipment and props you’ll need, including pads, blocks, and blankets.
If you’re planning to practice yoga at home, you can buy a few basics or find replacements around the house before you start. For example, you can use a belt or scarf in place of yoga bands and pillows, or a sturdy hardcover book for yoga blocks.
What to wear
Choose comfortable, stretchy pants or shorts and a tight top that won’t fly over your head every time you do an inversion.
You won’t need special shoes because yoga is done barefoot. You can also wear a pair of yoga socks with straps at the bottom to keep your feet from slipping on the mat.
Yoga studios have traditionally been where aspiring students come to study. But they are not the only available options for guidance. and There are pros and cons to each option.
- Gym: These days almost all major gyms open yoga classes. If you already have a gym membership, you can regularly take classes at no extra cost. Many of these instructors are highly qualified, although you can also get some new instructors looking to build on their experience and skills.
- Yoga studio: Often home to highly qualified instructors who primarily focus on yoga, most studios also offer a range of classes that continue throughout the day. However, yoga studios tend to be more expensive, and for some, they can feel more intimidating.
- At home: With the availability of smartphones and online video services, you can access online classes from anywhere. Online or DVD classes are a great and affordable option for those who don’t have access to live instruction, or who want an easy way to practice before taking a class.
While there’s nothing wrong with starting a practice at home, this type of instruction lacks personalized feedback, so it’s hard for beginners to know if they’re doing the right pose. Whenever possible, it’s best to take at least a few classes with a qualified instructor before deciding to study alone.
Yoga rituals are, for the most part, pretty straightforward — respect your teachers, respect your colleagues, and respect yourself and the practice.
Little things, such as showing up on time, turning off your phone before class, and staying in class until the last break, make a big difference.
Basic class structure
Most yoga classes follow a similar scenario, although the details vary based on the type of yoga you’re doing and the level of instruction. From the moment you step foot in the studio to the end of your first session, this is what you can expect.
- Check in at the front desk. Arrive a little early so you have time to prepare and find your space. Also, if this is your first time, you may have to fill out paperwork before joining.
- Enter the studio and find your space. Take off your shoes before entering. Set your mat down so that it faces the same direction as the other students’ mats. Ask the instructor if you need any extra props for the class. Tell the instructor if this is your first time.
- Sit quietly on your mat until class begins. This is a great opportunity for you to slow down, take a deep breath, and soak in before class starts.
- Follow the flow of the layer. Classes typically start with basic breathing exercises and slower, more structured poses to help you warm up. Some instructors may lead you through a series of “oms” songs, or guided meditation before starting the physical poses. After that, classes will increase speed and intensity, before gradually slowing down again and doing deeper stretches. Many classes end with sitting, then lying down, ending with savasana, or “corpse pose,” an important relaxation period where your body takes in everything it’s learned before you transition back to sleep. back to everyday life.
- Classes often end with deeper breathing. Since yoga is about breathing just like physical exercise, these final breathing exercises are a helpful reminder to focus on your breath for the rest of your day. Don’t let your guard down if your instructor leads you in a song. You don’t have to join if you feel uncomfortable.
- Ask questions after class. Most of the guides are around to answer any questions you may have. This is a great time to learn more about specific poses or simply develop a relationship with your instructor.
After class is over, take a moment to think about the experience. Assess what you like or don’t like, and think about whether the pace and instruction are appropriate for your ability level. With this information, you can decide to continue taking the same class in the future or move on and try something else.
Yoga is a very personal practice. What is safe and effective for one person may not be safe or effective for another. While most yoga poses are completely safe, it’s important that you listen to your body and set your limits when you do it.
For example, if you have low back problems, you may have to ask your teacher to modify basic poses such as forward bend or plow pose. And if you’re starting to practice yoga at home, it’s especially important to learn the poses that are most risky for beginners so you don’t try something you’re not ready for.
Just because poses like the banana plant and the crow are popular for showing off on Instagram, that doesn’t mean you’re ready to try them out. Many yoga poses require considerable endurance and balance that takes time to develop. Start by developing a basic practice and give yourself time to work from there.
If you’re having a hard time practicing longer, don’t be ashamed. Many new yogis are amazed by how challenging yoga can be.
Take a break in child’s pose whenever you need to, and if you want to, practice yoga poses for beginners designed to help build strength while you have a few minutes to yourself. . Before you know it, you’ll be able to pass the class like a champ.
There are many myths surrounding the practice of yoga. But that’s just it – they’re myths, not reality. Believe it or not, yoga isn’t just for those who identify as female. You don’t have to be flexible to practice yoga.
Yoga is not a religion. Yoga is not “too difficult” or “too easy”. Yoga isn’t just for vegetarian hippies. Yoga is for people of all levels, and yoga can fit any lifestyle.
If you are willing to give the practice a try, you may discover how uplifting and inclusive yoga can be.
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