Are you thinking about trying yoga? Have you seen pictures on the internet of uber flexible people and wonder if you could ever twist and bind your way into those pretzel-like shapes? Are you curious about the mind-body connection that yogis claim to have gained once they've begun to practice? Have you resolved to live better in your body or received a recommendation from your doctor to add yoga to your life to assist in reducing stress?
Fist things first.... when we discuss the movement aspect of yoga you do not, I repeat, DO NOT have to have a certain amout of flexibility in order to start a practice.
In Part 1, I'll answer some of the most common questions I've been asked by students, before their first class, in an effort to help you get on your way!
What should I wear?
Women: close fitting garmets including leggings or crops and a tank top. In addition, a sports bra will help you feel secure. If you prefer to wear a short sleeve shirt that's fine too as long as it's fitted. When you're upside down in downward facing dog or in a forward fold fitted clothing won't rise up and expose your skin or get in the way as you move.
Men: shorts and a tank top or t-shirt work well for you also. Depending on where you practice the studio may or may not allow you to remove your shirt, check their rules.
If you practice in a heated studio or you tend to sweat easily you'll want to stay away from cotton clothing as the sweat will saturate your clothing and make it feel heavy.
Do I need to buy expensive clothes? Everyone seems to have them.
No! I'd advise you to purchase items from Target and/or Old Navy where I've found some of most favorite workout pieces. Their prices are reasonable and they have a great selection. If you find your practices continues and the frequency ramps up you can choose whether you want to spend more money per item. You may or may not like them, it's up to you.
What kind of mat should I use?
There's no need to start off with an expensive mat. Start with one you can find at a big box store. Again, if the frquency of your practice increases maybe you dicide to spend more money on a high-quality mat. Your initial mat will be pretty standard in size and weight. If you choose to upgrade you can find various sizes, weights and thicknesses.
My friend was late to class once and she couldn't get in, the doors were locked!
Many studios will not allow students in once class has started for a number of reasons. First, we strive to start and end class on time to be mindful and respectful of students' time. Second, it's distruptive to interrupt the first few moments of class where instructors are centering students and allowing them time to be quiet, turn in and release from the world outside of the yoga space. Third, it's not safe for you to come in and dive into a sequence without properly warming your body. You could potentially set yourself up for injury. Finally, it's difficult for you to calm down if you're rushing from place to place.
It's best to arrive to the studio about 10 minutes before class so you have time to change clothes and settle in.
I have a knee injury, what should I do?
First, you should make sure you share this information with your instructor. We don't judge or think of you differently. What a skilled instructor will do is inquire about the cause, duration and current treatment you may be undergoing. We can also offer alternatives for you and advise as to what movements you may want to steer clear from during class.
I have high-blood pressure, is yoga good for me?
Again ask your doctor for advice and, if you feel comfortable let us know as well. There are definitely some poses in class that students with certain medical conditions should not attempt. However, we can't advise you if we don't know.
**Important Note: We aren't doctors and you should always check with yours to get specific answers to your questions.
Hopefully, I've answered some of your initial questions about starting a yoga practice. In Part 2, I'll address the questions that arise once the practice has actually started, in the room on your mat! Share your thoughts, comments or questions below!