I know. It can be intimidating. You’ve heard from every angle that Yoga is good for you. Everything from asthma to physical and mental fatigue. You aren’t sure if you’ll be able to practice Yoga or how to get started. Rest assured that with the right teacher there IS a proper Yoga practice for everyone.
As with anything new, when you begin a Yoga practice, you may feel self-conscious and a little awkward. “Right foot where?” “I thought I was breathing” , ” Wait…what?” “This reduces stress”? It might help to gain a little perspective…
We identify most easily with our physical existence. Left-Right, Up-Down, Inhale-Exhale…When your mind is busy paying attention to what goes where, and how to breathe most efficiently, you begin to access that part of yourSELF that exists without reaction or interpretation. (I know…Right?).
It sometimes starts as a glimmer or glimpse into that moment just before you react in frustration or negativity to a pose. You see it for what it IS and realize you can have a different experience. You notice the pose remains the pose, but the experience doesn’t seem so uneasy.
Then…the osmosis. You recognize this process unfolding outside of your practice. Slipping into moments of your daily life. You notice a shift. It feels good, natural. There’s a newfound sense of ease. The Ah-ha moment…This is me as I’m supposed to be! This is that connection to the “True Self” that you may have heard reference to. You begin to wonder. What if everything in my life was aligned with this sense of awareness? It’s time to find out.
Q & A
How do I find the right teacher?
- You deserve the best. Your progress will be safer and more consistent if you take the time to find a qualified teacher that speaks to your individual needs and abilities. Do your research. Most teachers have their own website. There you’ll usually find a list of the qualifications and experience.
- Don’t be shy. We love talking to people about the benefits of Yoga! Ask about their practice. Do they practice what they teach or only “do” Yoga when they are in front of a class? Seek out someone that has first hand experience in what they are offering. A dedicated Yoga practice teaches us more than anything we can absorb from a books, videos or trainings.
- Ask about their continuing education. Not only is it required by reputable organizations and Schools, commitment to growth and self study is often more important than the initial Yoga Teacher Training.
What should I know before I come to class?
- First time to the studio? Arrive at least 15 minutes early. This will allow for the registration process and give you a few minutes to get settled and feel comfortable in your surroundings.
- Yoga is best practiced on an empty stomach. You may be twisting or bending over which could be uncomfortable if you have just eaten. Wait 2-3 hours after a large meal. A light meal of yogurt, fruit etc. is acceptable if necessary. Also avoid high caffeine before your practice.
- It’s a good idea to hydrate before and after class.
Do I have to be flexible or strong to practice Yoga?
- Simply not the case! We learn to honor our unique abilities and make the most of them. With consistent practice and under the guidance of a qualified teacher, you’ll progress at a pace that is just right for you. You’ll gain balanced strength and flexibility.
What should I bring with me to class?
- An open mind and a sense of curiosity .
- You can bring your own mat and props if you have them. And a bottle of water is a good idea.
What should I wear?
- The most important thing about the clothing is that it is comfortable for you. Be sure it can move and stretch with you. Keeping in mind that you may be bending over. Nothing so loose that it will fall down or flip up when reaching for the floor. Shoes are not allowed in the practice space, so any footwear you choose is fine.
Injuries or other physical concerns?
- Part of most Yoga Teacher Training includes how to offer modifications and special instructions for a full range of physical abilities. However, in most cases Yoga Teachers are not trained medical professionals and it is beyond their scope of practice to offer medical advice or care.
- You should listen to the feedback of your body and breath during practice. If anything instinctively feels uncomfortable or unsafe, then STOP immediately and ASK for advice from the teacher, or rest until you feel ready to resume.
Over the centuries a consistent Yoga practice has revealed many health benefits. In modern times, science has revealed how Yoga techniques can be applied to prevent and benefit many common ailments. When can you start?
Research-Supported Outcomes And Benefits Of Yoga
- Decreased resting blood pressure – (Murugesan, Govindarajulu, & Bera, 2000; Selvamurthy etal., 1998; Channer etal., 1996; Broota, Vama, & Singh, 1995; Van Montfrans etal., 1990)
- Increased pulmonary function – (Birkel & Edgren, 2000; Vedanthan etal., 1998; Joshi, Joshi & Gokhale, 1992)
- Improved respiratory function in patients with asthma – (Manocha et al., 2002; Khanam, 1996; Fluge, 1994; Jain & Talukdar, 1993)
- Increased maximum oxygen consumption & physical work capacity – (Manchanda, 2000; Lan et al., 1998; Lan et at., 1999 Lai etal., 1993)
- Regression of coronary artery disease – (Ornish et al., 1990; Manchanda, 2000)
- Improved cardiovascular disease risk factor profile (e.g., blood lipids) – (Manchanda, 2000; Mahajan et al., 1999 Schmidt, 1997)
- Increased muscular strength and flexibility (Lan etal, 1998; Lan etal, 1996; Wolfson et at., 1996)
- Increased balance control (Wong et al, 2001; Schaller et al., 1996 Wolfson et al., 1996; Province et al., 1995; Hong, Li & Robinson 2000)
- Improved posture (Wong et al., 2001; Savic et al., 1990)
- Decreased falls in seniors (Wolf et al., 1996; Province et al., 1995)
- Increased cognitive performance – (Naveen et al., 1997; Jella & Shannahoff-Khalsa 1993)
- Improved relaxation & psychological well-being – (Telles et al., 2000; Schell, Allolio & Schonecke, 1994; Sood, 1993; Berger & Owen, 1992)
- Decreased stress hormones (e.g., cortisol) – (Kamei et al., 2000)
- Decreased anxiety & depression scores – (Ray et al., 2001; Sovik, 2000; Tweeddale, Rowbottom, & McHardy, 1993; Jin 1992; Savic et al., 1990)
- Reduction in frequency of panic episodes – (Clark, Salkovskis, & Chalkley, 1985)
- Reduced physiological & psychological responses to threat or stress – (Sakakibara & Hayano, 1996; Bera, 1995 Cappo & Holmes, 1984; McCaul, Solomon, & Homes 1979)
- Decreased HbA1c (glyosylated hemoglobin) & C-peptide levels in type 2 diabetes – (Tsujiuchi et al., 2002)
- Decreased symptoms associated with pain, angina, asthma and chronic fatigue – (Manchanda, 2000; Sespor, 1991)
- Increased physical functioning in older persons – (Li et al., 2001; Kutner et al., 1997)
- Decreased obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms – (Shannahoff-Khalsa & Beckett, 1996)
- Decreased osteoarthitis symptoms – (Garfinkel et al., 1994)
- Decreased carpal-tunnel symptoms – (Garfinkel et al., 1999)
An eight week study of the benefits of Yoga conducted by The American Council On Exercise, rendered the following results.
|YOGA STYLE||DURATION||CALORIES BURNED
|Hatha Yoga||55 minutes||144|
|Power Yoga||55 minutes||247|
|Flexibility||Back Scratch, Functional Reach Test, Trunk Rotation, Trunk Flexion and Extension, Trunk Lift, Shoulder Elevation, Ankle Plantar Flexion and Dorsiflexion, Modified Sit-and-Reach||13-35%|
|Balance||One-Legged Stance||17 seconds|
|Muscular Endurance||ACSM Modified Push-up Test and Curl-up Test||6 push-ups