Yoga has long been practiced for its restorative effects on the body – increased flexibility, clarity, focus and stamina, to name a few benefits. But I still hear people say that they don’t like yoga or they find it hard to enjoy. I used to be one of them. As an equestrian I gave yoga a try time and time again, hoping to increase my flexibility and build long, lean muscles. It never quite worked for me. I was too restless to relax and focus on my breathing. Fast-forward a number of years, and after undergoing a thyroidectomy and looking for a way to stay in shape, I attended a beach yoga class courtesy of Lululemon. Although the participants were way more advanced than I was, I finally could strike that balance between working out and finding peace within my body. Since 2013 I’ve practiced yoga regularly through complimentary classes at Lululemon and classes that my gym offered. It was through the latter that I found the most amazing yoga teacher who always seeks to educate her students on the benefits of certain poses and varies the class to give you a real workout.
If you are interested in trying yoga here are some tips to get you started:
1. Try taking a class through your gym: This is a great way to try yoga and see if you like it before committing to a series of classes. The gym will likely have different instructors and offer vinyasa, hatha and hot yoga.
2. Take advantage of community or complimentary yoga classes: I credit Lululemon with getting me hooked on yoga. I enjoyed waking up early on the weekends and heading into a quiet, peaceful yoga studio before I started my day. And after you get your Om on, you can shop for new yoga gear.
3. Download an app: Not sure you want to try yoga in a class setting? Yoga Studio is a great app to have on you Ipad or Iphone. I love that they offer beginner, intermediate and advanced classes for either 30 minutes or an hour. The instruction is very clear and you can go at your own pace. It is also a great option if you are looking to supplement your weekly yoga routine and would like to do so from the comfort of your own home.
4. Treat yoga as a workout: Yoga isn’t just all mat-work and stretching. It can be intense and requires not just physical strength, but also mental composure. Some yoga classes I have attended have been as hard, if not harder, than an hour cycling class.
5. Give it a chance: It takes about six weeks to see an improvement in your flexibility, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Stick with yoga – try different teachers and classes. Eventually you will find something that works for you.
I am so glad that I have been able to incorporate yoga in to my life and I have seen an improvement in my strength and flexibility. It has also helped me combat my anxiety through breathing exercises and taught me to handle stress better. I look at yoga as doing something good for my mind and body.