If I had a $1 for every time I hear the phrase, ‘I have always wanted to try Yoga but I’m not flexible enough’, I would be a very wealthy yoga instructor.
It is such a shame that a huge portion of people say they avoid yoga because they think they are not flexible enough. Flexibility is not a pre-requisite to yoga, just simply a noticeable by-product of doing it.
It would be like expecting the Masterchef contestants to begin making the macaroon tower on day one, or running the entire 42 km on your first day of marathon training. Or coming in to your very first yoga class sitting like a pretzel, chanting Sanskrit word perfectly just like an ancient Guru.
Why yoga is right for you – regardless of your ability
Your yoga won’t appear overnight, so begin by taking small steps such as doing one Asana (posture) or class at a time. If you are interested in giving yoga a try, whether your intentions for practice are physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, here are some basic steps to help you get into the studio and on to the mat.
Knowing that just like shopping for a pair of new shoes, it may take a few different studios and instructors or varying temperatures of rooms until you find the right fit. Don’t give up altogether if you, ‘were not into all the weird chanting’, or the ‘zany instructor who kept telling you to breathe into your colon or soar with your heart’ during class. Simply, do your mental yoga, stay open and maybe try another class until you find that connectedness that feels right for you.
Finding a studio
Look out for a yoga studio that provides a Yoga for Beginner’s class. Find out the length of the lesson – 1 hour to 1.5 hours is a nice amount of time for your first class. Call or email the studio ahead of time to find out any recommendations for what to wear or bring to class. Most studios provide (or hire) yoga mats and any equipment for you to use, so you shouldn’t need to make any big yoga purchases beforehand. Contact the studio to get yourself organised and suss out things like the cost of class, nearby parking and anything that can help you arrive to do yoga feeling calm and well prepared.
What to wear?
I always recommend wearing something moisture wicking and stretchy for practice. Often gym inspired pants and tops are fuss free and offer good coverage, check out www.lululemonathletica.com for a great selection of yoga inspired clothing. In yoga you need all your focus to be on your movement and breath, not on your low-rise leggings sliding down revealing your undies while in downward-dog.
Your first yoga class
Aim to arrive 10-15 mins early, feeling positive, hydrated and well nourished (a light meal two hours before is fine) Meet your instructor and share any pre-existing injuries. It’s quite common for students to feel tight in any of the following areas such as knees, back, hamstrings, shoulders and neck – especially if you’re new to doing yoga – so expect that your instructor will offer modifications in Asana to make it more accessible for you. In yoga no pain, is no pain.
Lay out your yoga mat in the middle row if you can, so that you can follow students in front or behind if you ever feel lost or confused.
Then simply relax…. be open to a room full of possibility, a bit of fun and with no expectations.
And yes, you will be able to touch your toes before you know it!
Image / Flickr – Yogalifestudios