So you’re catching on to the yoga fad and you want to know what all the buzz is about. You must be excited to get your body feeling stretched and relaxed – it’s a great way to reduce stress, lose weight and relax, nourish and center yourself. Practicing yoga is a wonderful foundation for a healthy lifestyle. The benefits of learning yoga are endless, but there are also a few things to watch out for before you get started. Hold off on leaping on the downward dogs until you read a little bit about what you’re getting into so that you keep your body feeling happy, healthy. Keep these following tips in mind as you’re learning how to do yoga and you’ll have a fantastic experience you’ll want to continue for years!
1. Warm up
As with any form of exercise, warming up is of the utmost importance. You want to make sure your body is literally “warm” by doing a few light movements and stretches to increase circulation, lubricate joints and get your muscles ready to stretch. About ten minutes should do; try doing 30 seconds of jumping jacks, swinging your arms back and forth across your chest, and running in place. You can also warm up by doing standard toe touches, over-the-head stretches and a few light leg stretches. Essentially, you can do any exercise that you most enjoy, with the goal of making sure your body is limber so that you don’t strain any muscles during your workout.
2. Choose the right style
If you’re a beginner, you probably want to steer clear of the more advanced forms of yoga that involve much more strenuous calisthenics and stretches. Viniyoga or Kripalu are great styles to begin with. Avoid Bikram and Ashtanga until you have mastered some of the more basic moves. It’s great to experiment with different styles as you gain experience. While some people find one practice they love and stick with forever, others find that they need a little more variation. Whatever your preference, be aware of the different levels of each style and what the benefits and potential risks are.
3. Don’t strain yourself
Whether you’re doing yoga on your own or in a class, be sure to start with a slow instructor and to really get a grasp of the basics. If an instructor is doing a certain pose and you can feel your joints start to strain for too long, hold off. You can always ease into a position over time, but if you push yourself too far right off the bat, you might suffer an injury that could take weeks to heal. Alternatively, try not to get stuck only doing the same basic few positions for years and years! You do want to challenge yourself over time – just make sure your body is adapting before you jump to the next level.
4. Every pose has different degrees
All poses, from beginner to advanced, will have different variations. Make sure you are settling into the pose and posture that make your body feel good, where you are experiencing no pain, strain or exhaustion. Even if you do not directly injure yourself, some moves can take a toll on your body over time if not performed correctly. Yoga is meant to help you become very aware of your body and the potential stress or pain you may be inflicting on it. Listen to yourself and help your body heal and grow in all the right ways.
One of the most important parts of learning how to do yoga is that it’s meant to help you relax. If you find yourself struggling to get into positions or keep up with your instructor, just sit down for a minute and take a few deep breaths. It helps to practice meditation in order to get into a state of relaxation. It might take some time to get to a point where your body is comfortable enough to relax into different poses, but you should be practicing your relaxed, smooth breathing the whole time.