Potential yogis rejoice! This just in; you don’t have to be able to twist into pretzel shapes and contort your body something holy to enjoy the physical or mental benefits of a good yoga session. Yep, even if you don’t know your downward dog from your happy baby, a world of stress relief, mindful focus and surprisingly effective exercise awaits.
For those woke to its benefits, the age old discipline’s magic touch has been obvious for some time, but it seems like the mainstream has finally caught on, too. And in a world of stress, pressure and panic, not a moment too soon, we think. We’re here today for those hungry to embrace a holistic attitude to their health and wellbeing, with these; our 5 IDEAL tips for yoga beginners on how to get started.
GET THE GEAR
Yoga is a discipline with inclusivity at its core. Everyone is welcome, all levels of ability embraced, and a lack of financial certainly represents no hindrance to participation. The fantastic thing about starting out with yoga is that the commitment – both in terms of time and money – is minimal. All you need is loose clothing, which you’ll probably already have lying around, and a little willpower to get the ball rolling. The only other thing we recommend purchasing is a non-slip yoga mat, for safety reasons. After that, you’re good to go. Now it’s up to you whether you take up the practice in the comfort of your own home, or join a class….
YOGA CLASS, YOUTUBE OR DVD?
While it’s hard to beat the experience, dedicated guidance and encouragement of a qualified teacher in a devoted space, Yoga DVDs are also a fantastic way to dip your toes in the water and decide whether the discipline is for you. Many, in fact, prefer the latter option, as by not having to leave the house there’s less of an impact on your time. And, frankly, falling over or farting during an extended warrior pose can be, well, a little embarrassing in public.
Youtube is another fantastic way to get started, and it’s free, too. Here you’ll find everything from energising morning routines to a session for desk related mid-day relief, a relaxing evening number, or even guided practices to help you with your sleep. Perhaps the best way forward, we think, is a mix of all three, representing the best of all worlds.
KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS
Few people want to label themselves beginners, even if they are just that; there’s a certain stigma that the term carries which we’d all like to avoid. But yoga is an activity which you very much want to take in your stride, slowly and steadily, because though it may be surrounded by a warm glow of positive energy, it can actually be rather dangerous when done incorrectly.
Yep, with more and more people downward dogging than ever, yoga related injuries are unfortunately on the rise. So, treat the practice with respect; as you’re so often implored during a session, ‘listen to your body’. Be aware of the most common yoga injuries to help you do things by the book; dive in too deep, too early, and risk it being your last good stretch for a while.
EMBRACE THE MENTAL BENEFITS
Though yoga may primarily feel like a physical workout, those entering the discipline often cite the benefits to their mind as the reason they stuck with it. Yep, this isn’t just some wooly, hippy nonsense about ‘love and light’; there’s some serious, scientifically backed stuff going on here. In a world where distractions and deadlines increasingly define our everyday, the ability to unwind and untangle in a holistic and healthy fashion is invaluable to devotees.
Countless studies have shown that being present and aware in our everyday tasks (a concept rooted in mindfulness practice and yoga) leads to better mental health and a more positive outlook on life. Harness this positive outlook in the early stages of your yoga journey, and you’ll find it an incredibly rewarding experience. For those who excel, the spiritual side is just as important as the physical.
THE MOST IMPORTANT POSE
It’s often said that ‘savasana’ – the final pose of your practice in which you lie flat and still – is the most important part of any yoga session. But it’s also a pose which many feel superfluous and want to rush through. Big mistake. A successful yoga session is all about setting your intentions for (or drawing a line under) the day, reconnecting with your body and the earth, and finding a little inner peace. The savasana represents the concluding paragraph of your session and should be treated with patience and respect. Without it, yoga would simply be a series of stretches; its true potency comes from those final few moments of peace.