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Getting Started with Yoga
By Alicia Sparks
Midweek Mental Greening
I used to be into yoga. Like, really into yoga. So much so that a few of my friends teasingly called me “Yogi.” (Though, don’t misunderstand – I was nowhere near being the “accomplished practitioner” the name suggests. I just really liked yoga and I think they thought the name was cute.)
I don’t know why I fell out of yoga, but I’ve been making some serious attempts to get started with it again. I’ve noticed, though, that despite how into yoga I was before, getting started with it again offers some of the same challenges that getting started with it the first time offered.
Why is it I want to do this again? What will I gain? Am I ready? Do I have time?
Because I’m not a “Yogi,” I’m not going to attempt to teach you how to practice yoga – especially not with a blog post. I can, however, share with you three steps to get yourself motivated and ready to start learning about – and practicing – yoga yourself.
Step 1: Research and Understand Yoga.
They say you have to jump in the water to learn how to swim, and that’s very true for a lot of things in life – including yoga. However, before you jump into anything, you need to have a basic understanding of what it is you’re jumping into and why. What is yoga? What can it do for you? Why do you want to practice yoga?
Increased flexibility, balance, and strength, along with depression and anxiety alleviation and an overall centering of the mind, work together to make the physical and mental benefits of yoga amazing. You’ll experience these things firsthand when you start practicing yoga, but in the meantime you can visit these well-organized, easy-read resources to get a taste of what’s in store (as well as how you’re going to get there):
Step 2: Prepare for Yoga.
Preparing for yoga means everything from deciding where you’re going to practice to what you’re going to wear, and trust me – your options are plentiful.
If you’re not a shy person and want the one-on-one interaction of a yoga instructor, look around for yoga classes in your area. Being around an expert will help you learn about the different kinds of postures and styles , whether you’re doing them correctly, and how to benefit most from them, as well as keep you motivated.
If you’d rather practice at home, however, there are numerous websites and videos (both online and off) to help you. Yoga Today , for example, offers numerous recordings of yoga classes. Practicing yoga at home also offers benefits a gym or center setting might not be able to, like enjoying the fresh air that comes with being outside.
The same flexibility applies for yoga wear and equipment. Whether you want to shop online or head to your nearest Wal-Mart or Target, there are plenty of places to find mats, blocks, straps, and attire; however, keep in mind that y...
Yoga Benefits - Open your Eyes to Yoga
by Charlotte Bradley, YogaFlavoredLife.com
Is it possible that a fitness program can enhance clarity of mind, increase your body’s natural immunity to disease and illness, strengthen and tone your muscles, and provide a sense of inner peace and balance? More than simply another workout, yoga can give you all of these benefits. Plus it’s just a lot of fun!
Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years as a way to shape the body, focus the mind, and energize the spirit. In the western world, yoga has not always been viewed in such a positive light. However, as many people are coming to see and experience the real benefits, yoga is rapidly gaining popularity and has moved into the mainstream.
Health and Fitness Benefits
Yoga is a total body workout that works on many levels to increase your overall fitness.
- Decreases blood pressure
- Improves cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Helps you manage stress and regulate mood
- Increases your lung capacity
- Enhances your sense of well-being
- Increases flexibility
- Strengthens core muscles
Yoga is also an effective treatment for joint stiffness and can gently increase mobility that may have been lost due to surgery or injury. Many athletes come to yoga for rehabilitation and find it so useful and enjoyable that they later incorporate yoga into their regular training regimen.
“It sounds like a bunch of mystic bologna to me …”
While traditional yoga can help you get in touch with your spiritual side, if that doesn’t interest you, yoga is still a great total-body workout that helps you build muscle, lose body fat, and look and feel better than ever. You may be surprised to find how physically challenging certain styles, such as power yoga, can be. Focus on the physical practice and poses and reap the many physiological benefits. In time, I can almost guarantee you’ll grow to appreciate the mental benefits as well.
“I just don’t have enough time.”
Yoga philosophers believe that no yoga practice is ever lost. If you can only spend 10 minutes a day, or attend one class per week, you will still benefit and that benefit will never be lost. You can practice anywhere - in class, at home or at the beach if you’re really lucky! Yoga requires very little equipment (just a yoga mat for comfort and safety), a bit of space, and perhaps a DVD to guide you.
While it’s true that the more advanced forms of yoga are strenuous and will test even the fittest of bodies, there are many different types of yoga classes available. You can easily find a style of yoga that suits your needs . Whether you are looking for a tough workout, want to go deeply into poses to increase flexibility or are looking to unwind, there is a yoga practice for you.
So what’s stopping you? Open your eyes (and your mind) to yoga and find out just what it can do for you.
Charlotte Bradley is the publisher of YogaFlavoredLife.com and an avid yoga practitioner herself. She was a student of karate for many years and took up yoga tentatively only after a knee injury persuaded her to find a less high-impact form of exercise. Surprised by just how quickly yoga sped her rehabilitation along, Charlotte quickly found that yogic relaxation techniques lent her the proper focus to bring balance into her life and appreciate what she already had. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario with her husband and twin boys, Charlie and Patty, who keep her on her feet and on the go. Her golden retriever supervises Charlotte’s yoga workouts from a spare mat, with his eyes closed.
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