Wondering how to get started with yoga? Deciding that you want to start doing yoga is the first step. It's easy to get stuck there, though. Don't be intimidated! You basically do not need anything to practice yoga. The important thing is your attitude and the desire to expand your self-awareness.
Here are some tips to get you started - so you can start enjoying the pleasures and benefits of yoga for yourself.
Where to Practice and What to Wear
One of the advantages of yoga is that it can be practiced almost anywhere, by people of all ages, and without special equipment. Whether you're participating in a yoga class or simply trying yoga at home, choose a place that is relatively free from distractions, quiet, clean and well-ventilated. Using a mat, blanket, or towel will provide support and added comfort as you move into lying or sitting positions. It's best to wear loose, stretchy, comfortable clothing, such as shorts, workout gear, yoga pants, or leotards.
Yoga is traditionally practiced barefoot, however, socks or soft-shoes can be put on. It is also best to practice yoga on an empty stomach or about one or two hours after a full meal. You may eat fruit, an energy bar, or drink a glass of juice or water an hour before class to avoid getting hungry during practice.
As mentioned earlier, you basically do not need anything in order to practice yoga. All you need is the desire to expand your self awareness. But this doesn't mean you shouldn't invest in some different yoga props as you progress in your practice. These props help you achieve the proper alignment, balance and make the pose a bit easier. The use of props also minimizes the strain and supports your muscles, thus allowing you to save your energy by exerting less effort on a pose.
Here are some yoga props to start with:
- non-slip mat
- strap or belt
- cotton or wool blanket
- wooden or foam block or a phone book
Basic Yoga Session
A basic yoga session does not take too long and usually follows this order:
Sun Salutations - conditions your body for safe transition into asana practice. For beginners, you may just use the warm-up poses as your entire practice. Warm-up exercises open the shoulder muscles, the spine, the hips, the lower back, and the groin.
Standing Poses - for alignment of the feet and the body. Opens the hips, stretches the legs, add strength to your back and increases your range of movement. Standing poses facilitates digestion, blood circulation and is good for those who want to lose weight.
Inverted and Balance Poses - inverted and balance poses defy gravity and develops coordination, increase stamina and strength, and improve grace, agility and poise. It also improves your concentration and focus since being quiet is necessary to be able to do these poses.
Supine and Prone Poses - these poses release tension in your abdomen and increase the mobility of your spine. It restores strength in your back, arms and legs, and releases your hips and groin.
Backbends - backbends are the poses that benefit the adrenal glands and the kidney. It also releases tension in the front body and in your shoulders and pelvic girdle and improves the flexibility of your spine.
Twists - twist exercises releases the tension in your spines, relieves backaches and makes your shoulders more flexible. It also facilitates in the circulation of blood and nutrients in the body making it helpful for the health of the inter-vertebral discs.
Seated Poses - sitting poses allows you to infuse with the breath and prana and to revitalize from a pose by giving you a calm and quiet feeling. These poses greatly contribute in shaping your buttocks and legs and in adding vitality and suppleness to the spine.
Finishing Poses - these are the cooling-down exercises for Yoga.
Yoga Practices and Pre-Cautions
When practicing yoga, try to concentrate on each movement. Remember that you should not strain or continue holding any yoga posture if it causes pain. Yoga isn't a competitive sport, and the extent of the shape is less important than the technique.
Each pose may be repeated up to three times, but it is better to perform a posture once correctly than repeating it three times quickly and sloppily. Try to perform the poses in the prescribed order, since the routine is meant to help balance the different muscle groups.
Dos and Don'ts
- Eat a big meal right before practicing yoga. Try eating lightly a few hours before.
- Drink water during your yoga session, but have some before and after.
- Wear shoes or socks (if the setting allows).
- Review yoga etiquette so you feel very comfortable entering an unfamiliar situation.
- Tell the teacher it's your first class (you probably won't be the only one).
- Ask the teacher for help if you need it.
- Familiarize yourself with some beginner yoga poses before you take your first class.
- Be kind to yourself. Some yoga asana can feel unfamiliar, but it's not about the shape or flexibility.
Ready to get started?
Get started practicing yoga on your Outer Banks vacation! Complimentary yoga classes are part of the Club Seaside program. Book your Outer Banks vacation with Seaside and you (and everyone else in your rental house) can attend a complimentary gentle yoga class on Mondays from 6:00 PM to 7:15 PM instructed by Outer Banks Yoga at their Kitty Hawk studio! In addition, you can purchase 3 classes for a special rate of only $33.00 meaning you can continue your yoga throughout the whole week!