I came to yoga as a naïve 21-year old new to NYC, looking for a way to stay fit, flexible and calm. I confess that at the time I cared more about wearing designer handbags and sipping cosmopolitans than I did about finding my spirit. But somehow through my journey of yoga, I did find it and came to find the teaching of yoga as a path for the rest of my life!
Whether you run or crawl, if that’s the case, your way to a yoga practice, whether it’s 100% new or you’ve dabbled with a DVD or a class at your local gym, below are a few great reasons to begin. Despite any hesitations or perceived reasons why yoga isn’t for you, yoga can be good for just about anybody and ANY BODY.
- Whatever your need, there is a style of yoga that will probably suit you: If you have the idea that yoga is slow and boring, there are several styles that are anything but! These types of yoga have a continuous series of movement and poses that, when held, will challenge any athlete. If you tend to get bored in classes, several styles have embraced the power of music as a form of energy-pumping inspiration for the class. If an athletic, energetic experience is what you crave look for classes or DVD’s defined as Vinyasa Flow, Power Yoga, Anusara or Ashtanga. If your need is to slow down, stretch your overworked or injured muscles or find a more calming experience, you might need a more mellow style of yoga- look for a slow flow, hatha or a restorative yoga class. If you are obsessed with detail and alignment and want to learn a very “proper” way of doing the poses, you might be an Iyengar kind of person. Yoga is thousands of years old and in that time countless styles have evolved. Be patient and find the style and teacher that gives you what you need- I promise you, you’ll find it.
- You do not need to be flexible to do yoga: In fact, the reverse is true! Yoga is a science and philosophy originating thousands of years ago in India and was not created by people who were already in perfect shape. It was created by people who recognized that tension in the body was connected to tension in the mind. Ancient yogis decided to stretch their tight bodies so they could meditate more easily. We are no different. Wherever we are is a perfect place to begin.
- Yoga is based on a philosophy of living a Happy Life! And don’t we all want that?! In the West, we have associated the physical poses of yoga as all that there is. But, in fact, yoga is made up of eight parts, or limbs, of which the physical poses are only one. The other “limbs” of the study of yoga are aimed at living life in a way that we are more harmonious with ourselves and others. (More of these gems to come in future posts). But seriously, who doesn’t want to learn ancient and oddly practical tips to live a happier life?
So, you want to give it a shot? The good news is that you actually need very little to begin! Here are a few practical starter tips:
- If you’re going to begin at a yoga studio, find something convenient to work or home that suits your schedule. The most important thing is getting there in the first place, so make sure you increase your odds.
- If you plan to try a DVD first, I suggest putting your yoga DVD time into your calendar so that it becomes part of your schedule. Without a studio schedule, the time could easily slip away, so make the commitment to it by carving out specific time in your week.
- All you really need to begin is a yoga mat. All the extras like blocks and straps will be provided at studios and can easily be ordered online if you discover they would be helpful. A great and reasonably priced website to order your desired extras is www.yogaaccessories.com.
- You do not need the perfect and costly yoga ensemble! Comfy clothing that allows you to move is really all you need to begin. Don’t get hung up on the look, instead start by showing up to the process.
- As I mentioned, be patient finding what works for you- it might take time to find the style you love or the teacher that inspires you. Like any other relationship, love takes time to find and cultivate. But when you find the right thing, believe me, you’ll know because you will feel like you’ve arrived in the perfect place for growth.
There is so much to love about the yoga practice and for everyone those reasons are a little different. But the reasons to show up in the first place are pretty straightforward. So start simple and allow the seed, your yoga practice, to sprout and begin to blossom.