Tips to Having a Great Yoga Workout
Today, you can find yoga practitioners nearly everywhere you go, and for good reason. Yoga provides an excellent work out without being intimidating to a beginner the way that weight lifting or cycling can. It appeals to both the stay at home mom looking to ease her way back into the fitness world and the experienced athlete seeking a way to stay flexible and limber. No matter what your motive, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that your yoga experience is a positive and productive one.
Before you sign up for your first yoga class or purchase your first yoga DVD, you need to decide what type of yoga class will best suit your needs. Many first-timers assume that yoga is yoga and that is doesn’t really matter what kind you sign up for. For example, if you are not a fan of heat or sweating, it would be a big mistake to sign up for a Bikram yoga class.
Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga, combines a series of challenging asanas (traditional yoga poses) performed in quick succession in a sauna-like environment. The purpose of Bikram yoga is to sweat as much as possible so as to cleanse the body. While many people find Bikram yoga to be quite agreeable, it is probably not the best choice for a person’s first introduction to the world of yoga.
Take your time and do your research before signing up for your first yoga class.
No matter what form of yoga you ultimately choose to pursue, consider selecting a beginner course to start off with. Yoga may seem simple enough to someone who has never done it, but many of the poses can be quite strenuous and require a certain degree of physical strength and flexibility before they can be performed properly. In any case, it is better to start in a class that is to easy for you and have to move up than it is to take a class that is too advanced and end up discouraged, or worse, injured.
Alright, so let’s say that you have signed up for your first class. Good for you! Unlike sports that require multiple pieces of equipment, yoga requires only a few.
You will need to purchase well-fitting, comfortable clothes and a mat.
The outfit that you wear to your first yoga class does not need to be fancy or match a worldly vision of what a yoga practitioner looks like. Instead, focus on choosing clothing that wicks away moisture, such as cotton, linen, or specialized sport materials. They should hug your body snugly, but not feel tight or restrictive.
Pants or shorts are both acceptable, depending on what you feel most comfortable in, and should stay put relatively well while you are in motion. Bunching or gaping of fabric can be uncomfortable for you and distracting to your fellow practitioners.
In regards to a mat, there is no “right” choice. Mats come in a dazzling array of options with choices running the gamut from natural, woolen mats to the ever popular, colorful, neoprene mats, with many more in between. Choose what you find most attractive and what works best for you. If you have sore wrists or sensitive joints, pick a thick mat that will provide you with the cushion that you need.
Many gyms and yoga schools have extra mats available for students to borrow. If offered, using one of these mats for your first several classes can be a good idea. It will give you time to decide if you want to stick with yoga, and also help you decide what mat works best for you.
As with any work out, warming up is required before you begin the real yoga work out. Your instructor may begin class with a series of slowly building exercises. These sequences may seem too easy or redundant for the beginner yoga student, but they are done for a reason. The instructor is leads the classes through a group warm up to ensure that every student’s body is limbered up and prepared to take part in the exercises to come.
Trust that your instructor knows what he or she is doing and only has their students’ best interest at heart. Listen to your instructor’s voice, and follow along with their movements to the best of your abilities. Do not get upset if you have difficulties with any particular pose. You will continue to get better with practice.
Remember, yoga is a time for you. Take deep, even breaths and focus on the task at hand. Do not allow outside stressors or negative thoughts to invade your mind. You will have time to deal with them later. For an hour there is only your mind and your body, nothing else matters. For people who are accustomed to rushing around and taking care of others, this time to yourself may at first seem irresponsible and self-indulgent. It’s okay if you feel this way.
Bear in mind that it is just as important to care for yourself as it is to care for others. If you never take the time to care for yourself, you will become rundown and burned out. You will not be able to give others your very best unless you first take care of yourself. Enjoy this special time, and emerge renewed and ready to take on anything that may come your way. Namaste!