Starting a yoga practice? Read on.
If you are reading this because you are about to start a new yoga practice, welcome. Before you run out and buy a new mat, have a look at a few of my suggestions. I have been “practicing” yoga for years, but until this year, I was not serious about my practice…if that makes sense. I am completing my 200 hour Vinyasa yoga teacher training in June, and I wanted to pass on some tips that can really motivate and help you stick to your practice.
- Buy a good mat. If you are looking for a yoga mat, there are literally thousands out there. Before you buy one, see if you can use the ones at the studio to get comfortable with them, then ask what thickness or brand they use. I prefer a thicker mat, like this one << unless you like hot yoga, and I have this one.
- Find a good studio. If you are uncomfortable when you go there the first time, give it another chance. If you are not comfortable again, try another studio. You want the vibe of the studio to be completely welcoming. They should show you around, tell you where things are located, and basically be helpful from the moment you walk in. My studio is awesome about that. It really is the little things that mean a great deal to me.
- Respect your body’s knowledge. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Don’t be afraid to tell the teacher before class if a particular area is causing you some discomfort. That way the teacher will know ahead of time and can give you a few modifications.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. This might seem like a no brainer, but sadly, it’s not. You constantly have to re-align yourself to focus on you and you alone. What Mr. Yoga Guru at the front of the class can do has no bearing on your life whatsoever. Great, he can fold in half like a pretzel and then stand up with his hands. Enjoy the moments that you have with your progress. Where you are is very important. It’s the start of a great practice.
- Buy comfortable, not see through, clothes. Please don’t feel you have to clothe yourself in head to toe designer yoga wear. But at the same time, do a quick mirror check to make sure it’s not thin as tracing paper when you bend over. As lovely as your under garments might be, heck as lovely as mine might be, I prefer my underoos to stay hidden. I don’t spend a lot, but I make sure my tank tops stay in place and my leggings are not sheer. Note: I use the Yoga Club. Seriously. You can’t go wrong with how cool the clothes are, and a box comes to you for 60% off retail!!
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. My friends would say this is pretty easy for me, but if you step out of a pose, or erm fall off the surf board during SurfSet, as long as you aren’t hurt, just smile and get back up. We are lifelong learners and it’s important to find an inner sense of humor with this process.
- Breathe. Sometimes, I feel like I am breathing the loudest in the room. I take the phrase “ocean breath” seriously when my teachers taught me how to breathe. It has steadied my entire practice. Ujjayi breath is a 3 part breath and I find it very calming. Whatever kind of breathing you use, just remember to listen for your breath as you steady yourself.
- Make your practice a habit. If you make a regular practice of yoga at least three times a week, it will be more beneficial to you in the long run. You will become more flexible as the weeks progress and you will be able to flow into the poses without thinking about it. You can even do 15 minutes of Sun Salutations at home in the mornings.
- Communicate with your teacher. Stay after class for a second if you think you didn’t catch just how to do a pose or if something didn’t feel right. You can ask them to watch you do downward facing dog for a minute and ask them to go over the most important tips for really getting into that pose. It seems so simple, but if you don’t press into the knuckle mounds of your hand evenly you might walk away with sore wrists. Take the time to ask. It’s really okay. You can also read my pin about how to avoid wrist pain.
- Don’t rush. Take time to really slow down for yoga. Be present. Stay for Savasana…the resting time. Focus on your breathing. Check in with your body. And of course, it’s fine to congratulate yourself for doing the best that you can. You did it! Repeat Namaste when your teacher says it at the end as a form of respectful closing to thank your teacher for sharing their energy with you.