Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Yoga F.A.Q.s

    Recently, several people have mentioned that they'd love to try yoga, but are a little intimidated by the fact that they don't know much about it, or what to expect when going to a yoga studio for the first time.  I don't know how many out there feel the same, but hopefully this post will help clear things up if you feel similarly.
   What is yoga?  Well I'll tell you what it's not.  Yoga is not a religion, nor does is contradict any religions.  It doesn't even have to be a spiritual practice if you don't want it to.  If you do want it to, yoga will complement any religious belief by promoting compassion, awareness and mindfulness.  Yoga can be one or more of many things.  It can be an amazing physical practice that will help to promote physical fitness, and a counter balance to many common ailments.  It can be a philosophy and a way of life.  You can leave your practice on the mat, or bring its principles with you into your life, as many of these principles apply to more than the physical postures.
    Who can do yoga?  Anyone!  You don't have to be flexible, strong, thin, young or even healthy to benefit from  a yoga practice.  Walk into many yoga studios and you will see people of all ages, shapes and states of health.  The point is to fit your yoga practice to your needs.
    The decision to actually get up and go to a yoga studio can be a hard one.  It's a step outside your comfort zone, and all yoga instructors understand that.  Just know that we are thrilled when someone who has never practiced yoga before comes to class!  We're excited that we get to share yoga with you.  Also know that you are not being judged.  Everyone in the class, including the teacher remembers their first foray into yoga and are eager to make it painless for you.
    A few things to know before hand:
You'll want to bring your own mat, which can be purchased at most big stores like Target and Walmart, but are also probably sold at the studio.  If you sweat, bring a small hand towel, and also a bottle of water (preferably not glass, most studios request that).  Dress comfortably, in clothes you can move easily in.  Be aware though, that if your top is too loose, it may shift and slide when you do postures where your hips are higher than your head.  You may want to wear a top that is form fitting.  Dress in layers, especially in cooler weather.  You'll want a long sleeved shirt, and maybe socks for when you are meditating, or in final relaxation.
Plan to arrive at the studio about 15 minutes before your first class.  You'll need to provide your info, and fill out a health history form before taking class, as well as purchase your class or package.  Also, the instructor will probably want to get to know you a bit, and this will give you a chance to ask any questions you may have.
Once you are in class:
Don't stress!  Lay your mat out, have a seat and enjoy your first class.  Don't push too hard.  Although it's hard, it's important to not compete with those around you.  Yoga is supposed to feel good, and although the first class may have it's moments of discomfort, every effort should be made to work at your pace.
If you don't like the first class, don't give up!  There are so many different types of yoga, and different styles of teaching.  There will be at least one that you connect with!