Never compare yourself to anyone else. Yoga is not about being as flexible as your instructor or other class participants. Yoga is a personal experience.
Listen to your body, always go at your own pace and know your limitations. If a yoga pose hurts, stop. Do not force yourself into a painful position. Your instructor can modify the pose so you won’t over stretch or suffer an injury.
Before class begins, tell your instructor if you have any limitations or health concerns. Your instructor will then be able to include poses right for your abilities and your needs.
Here are a few things to think about if you decide to give yoga a try:
Keep in mind that yoga is usually done in bare feet, which enhances stability, alignment, and allows a better connection to the ground. Wearing traditional socks can cause your feet to slide. However, there are yoga socks designed with nonslip gripping pads along with open toes and heel areas that mimic being barefoot.
Avoid wearing loose clothing to class or when practicing yoga at home. Loose clothing can bunch up and make yoga poses more difficult. Dressing in layers is always helpful so you can take items off if you feel warm during a yoga session.
Bring someone else along. Ask a friend or family member to sign up for a class with you. As with any form of exercise, having a yoga partner can be fun and motivating.
Find and attend a yoga class specific to your personal needs. For example, certain yoga classes are designed especially for beginners or for those of us in our “seasoned” years. Check with local senior centers, retirement communities, public libraries, religious organizations, and health clubs.
If you are not very familiar with yoga, you may think it is all about stretching, bending, and twisting your body into seemingly impossible positions. That’s not really the case. While it is true people experienced in yoga can do some pretty amazing things with their bodies, looking like a pretzel is not the goal. For most of us, yoga provides a great opportunity to move our bodies in a physical yet gentle way that has many positive effects on our body, mind, and spirit.
Simply put, yoga is about stretching, posing, and breathing. The benefits are numerous, and many have been scientifically proven. Yoga helps increase muscle tone, flexibility, balance, strength, and concentration. Yoga also helps improve posture by strengthening and loosening tight areas in the body, like our shoulders and muscles in the upper back. It can help with sleep issues, chronic pain, migraines, stress, and depression. It’s even helpful for people with certain health conditions, including arthritis, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.
One of best things about yoga is that almost anyone can do it regardless of age or physical fitness. Yoga poses are very adaptable. There also are many levels and styles of yoga, including chair yoga and water yoga. The type of yoga that’s best for each person usually depends on age, physical ability, activity level, and other things specific to the individual.
As with any new exercise régime, it is important to speak with your doctor before trying yoga. Your doctor may be able to recommend a local yoga instructor or yoga class that is right for you.
Always let your yoga instructor know if you experience pain after a yoga session. Also inform your doctor.
Make sure your instructor helps you feel comfortable and also takes the time to modify poses that are too difficult or straining for you. If you think you may require a lot of the instructor’s attention, a smaller class may be preferable. To get started, you may even want to arrange for a few private one-on-one sessions.
Start by taking a yoga class you attend in person rather than using a DVD or Internet video, especially if this is your first time trying yoga. Joining a class will help ensure you are doing yoga poses correctly and safely. An instructional class will help you get the most out of yoga with the least risk of injury.