Yogis? Contortionists & acrobats oh my!?
Despite what misconceptions are out there about yoga, you do not need to be a calm, flexible or spiritually enlightened person to begin yoga.... and being able to put your leg behind you head is not the norm (but, if that is what you are looking for, it is out there)! Yoga will meet you where you are and help you to enhance those things in your body, mind and heart that make you more relaxed, strong, flexible and at ease within yourself. There is an appropriate style, speed and pace of yoga that is right for you.
FINDING YOGA: If there is not yoga in your area, there are books, videos, podcasts and online streaming of yoga that are relatively inexpensive to free. Check out some of my favorites here.
WHICH YOGA: Yoga classes range from chair or gentle yoga to more fast paced athletic ashtanga or power yoga, even acrobatic yoga. Make sure you read the description, including the teachers bios of who is teaching the class. Consider how long they have been teaching especially you will need special care with modifications or an injury or something etc. Not many places will allow you to observe a class, for the privacy of their students, but more gentle classes are often less strict with this - Just ask the teacher. A class that says all levels, mixed levels or everyone is unlikely to cater to raw beginners and will often have a more intermediate pace and require students to have a good level of physical fitness. Bare in mind that there are more specific formats for yoga that may be exactly what you are wanting to start with: chair, prenatal, seniors, gentle, beginner etc. If a group class is not right for you, try a private lesson.
STARTING YOGA CLASSES: Leading up to your first class, it is normal to feel nervous, anxious or excited. Actually starting is usually the hardest part; after that it is just about showing up! Once of the roles of the yoga teacher is to help you relax in a safe environment. You likely have many questions even before then so check out these tips below and if you still have questions you can as me on facebook or send me an email. Even after your first practice you may feel the benefits of the stretching, breathing, relaxation and confidence that comes from your practice.
Things to consider before practice
1. EATING/DRINKING: Let meals digest before practice. Eating right before practicing can be uncomfortable. Bring a water bottle into class and stay hydrated.
2. DRESS: comfortable gym wear clothing that is not too lose, but instead stretches easily.
3. SUPPLIES: a yoga mat, towel, water. Studios usually have props provided and mats to use or rent. If you know you sweat a lot, a towel is a good idea.
4. AVOID: No scents, perfumes or cologne :O Keep your mat clothing and body, odor free so as not to distract for anyones, including your practice.
5. BE EARLY: Arrive 15 minutes early, especially your first time, to fill out any paperwork, get changed, and settle in the space.
6. STUDIO ETIQUETTE: Remove your shoes when entering the yoga space, stow your items including your socks. Turn your phone ringer and alarms off or on silent. *For classes such as chair yoga, mats may not be used and shoes may stay on, ask the instructor.
7. COMMUNICATE: Personally notify your instructor before class starts of any injuries or limitations you may have. Also let them know if it is your first time. If you do not feel comfortable being in the front line (if there is one), tell the instructor.