Alright, you’re considering a good way of getting started with yoga. At least, you might be wondering how you can dip your toe in the water to discover what it’s like. If you’re at all like I was, you are curious, a bit excited, but maybe a bit nervous as well. The simplest way is probably to locate a local yoga studio and check out any basic or introductory classes they provide. I don’t recommend beginning with videos or books. Those can be very valuable once you get oriented, but a personal relationship with someone, an instructor, a class peer, etc., can be really important to getting off on the right path.
Honestly, I felt like an idiot the first time I walked into a yoga studio. I was nervous, self-conscious: I was very out of shape, carried around 30 or 40 extra pounds, and my sweat pants were not pretty. I was a fish out of water and was positive that The Yoga People would laugh me out the door.
That didn’t happen. Not even close.
I went down to the Yoga Studio and used my new gift certificate to purchase a 6-class pass, giving me access to any classes that were open for drop-ins (which was the majority of classes offered). Now I was going to have to attend a class!
I had many questions and the owner of the yoga studio, who also was an instructor, kindly answered my questions and steered me toward starting with a basic Hatha class. I learned that Hatha, the most common form of yoga practiced in the West, is the physical (asana) type of yoga. There are many others that concentrate more on mental practice, lifestyle and action, breathing, etc. Technically, physical asana is just one element, or limb, of yoga.
The basic class I went to was ideal for me. It was small, attended by a variety of people of all shapes, sizes and ages. The teacher (The Fabulous Bryan) was gentle, supportive and – most important of all – completely accepting of each person’s particular situation. It took me six months of going to the class once a week to be able to touch my toes without bending my knees. Boy, was that a thrilling day!
So, find a class and a teacher with which you feel comfortable. You might want to check out more than one studio to evaluate before you buy a package or large pass card anywhere. This will give you a good feel for the studio itself and how warm and supportive it is, as well as the teachers in your area. There is likely nothing more important in the Getting Started in yoga process than finding a teacher you like and connecting with her. If you don’t meet that person on your first try, just chalk that up to information gathering and keep at it. One thing I’ve really cultivated in my yoga practice is persistence. If you practice persistence in the search for the right “fit” for you, in terms of a yoga teacher and studio, it will pay off!
One other note: It’s useful to think about what your targets are with yoga. Relaxation? Weight loss? Cardiovascular health? Reduction of anxiety or depression? Becoming more flexible? Initially, just getting a toe hold any way you can is enough, but eventually, the answer to the question of what you want out of it may help guide where your practice goes.
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