I can say for certainty that everyone reading this article right now probably attempted yoga or at least knows someone who did. After two years of practice, I can safely call myself a “yogi”, and it has truly made my life better. Not only am I getting into better shape physically, but the mental and spiritual benefits of the practice is the reason I keep coming back every year. For the baby yogis out there, I wanted to make this a crash course in all things yoga and, hopefully, persuade you to try it out!
Let’s start with the origins; yoga has been practiced ever since ancient times. Although the exact birth date is uncertain, origins can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago. To add on, the poses that I held last week in class were essentially the same poses that people practiced in Eastern Asia way back when. Even though new types and forms of yoga have evolved since then, this practice has lasted the test of time.
I truly don’t believe people when they tell me “I’m just not a yoga person” because there is a type of yoga for everyone for whatever mood you’re in!
Want to channel heat from inside while challenging muscles in your body that you never knew existed? Ashtanga vinyasa, or “power yoga” seems like it will be right up your alley! This type of yoga is where your instructor will guide you through a flow that will leave you zen and a little sore.
Looking for a practice where you can basically fall asleep in? Restorative, or relaxation yoga, is a gentle class where you can forget all your stresses and just focus on you and your body. Even though these two types are at opposite ends of the yoga spectrum, there are many other types in between the spectrum.
For example, yoga foundations will give you the basics of what yoga is all about while slightly challenging your abilities. Hot yoga is when you move through your flow in a room that is set to a HOT temperature, where you’ll sweat, but feel great doing it. Wondering which one is right for you? The only way is to try them all!
What to expect from a class…
I get it, no one wants to walk into their first fitness class and feel blindsided. No matter what yoga class you take, the overall structure is roughly the same. You will begin each practice in a still position and focus on your breath because breathing deeply will help guide you through your practice.
After this, you will typically go through a series of warm-up stretches and then, dive right into your downward dogs and warrior poses. Don’t worry about feeling lost or left behind because the teacher will be giving you full verbal instruction throughout the whole class. The instructors, at least from my experience, will tell you straight up that this is your practice, so if you don’t feel like doing a pose, don’t do it. That’s another thing that I love about yoga: it is truly an exercise that you can directly cater to how your body is feeling in the moment!
After an hour or so, you will wind down with more stretching and shavasana. Shavasana is when you lay still on your back and let your body soak up all the good you just did for it. When the instructor wakes you and sends you off with a “namaste”, you are on your way!
Last, but certainly not least, I’ll coach you through picking out your perfect yoga outfit! While you can essentially wear any athletic gear to yoga, I prefer the clothes that are specific to the practice.
Tight yoga leggings and a tank top are ideal for the more physically demanding practices, but you could opt for more loose-fitting pants and a top for a restorative class. It’s really up to you! I personally get my yoga gear at Athleta and even JCPenney, it’s comfortable, yet affordable. My only tip is if you have long hair, pull it back. You’ll be thanking me when you go into your first downward dog and your hair doesn’t hang in your face.
Yoga mats are also something to invest in if you practice often. You can ask your yoga instructor which ones they use, but I just got mine on Amazon. If you don’t want to make the commitment and buy a mat right away, ask your yoga studio if there are mats you can borrow and return at the end!
Ready to get out there and try a class? I promise you will leave feeling successful and stress-free! Leave us a comment on which yoga you would try!
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