Contrary to the yoga stereotype, one does not necessarily need to be flexible to get involved in yoga. Yoga is a progressive activity, meaning it can accommodate for every person from novice to expert. Each pose has many variations which meets the needs of people with different abilities. The most important thing to remember is to do yoga for you. If the teacher is showing a position that you are struggling with, go into a variation of the pose (teacher will usually mention variations available), or perhaps take a rest in child’s pose. Taking notice of the limitations of your own body (and listening to them) is a great practice of mindfulness and gives us the capacity to increase awareness.
If you’re pushing yourself into a pose and you’re restricting your breath, the yoga has left the building people! Instead, ease into the pose, connect with the flow of the breath and continue with the practice. From my experience, when observing my breath during a yoga practice, I feel more rejuvenated and fulfilled after the class than compared to when my goal is to get into some poses and finish the class (a means to an end). When the natural breath is being observed, presence is experienced, and with presence comes the benefits of increased well-being, feeling of connection to yourself and others, decreased anxiety, improved awareness and less intrusive thoughts.
You’ll probably notice a wide variety of types of yoga on offer, so how do you know what’s right for you? First step is to ask what your intention is for attending a class. Would you like to get fit and stretchy? Perhaps you’re looking for a calming session to relax, or maybe it’s all about the social aspect for you. Most yoga classes will have a description about the class, so have a look and see if it aligns with your intention. If there’s no description, send an email to the teacher to ask if their class is right for you.
It’s all about the practice baby! Like most activities, the importance of practicing yoga outweighs understanding the theory of yoga. Although, having an understanding of what yoga can do for the mind, body and soul can be helpful for teachers, beginners and for those with a thirst for the yoga intellect, the real value comes from regular practice. The irony is that when a person practices yoga consistently (remembering the importance of the breath during practice), then they are actually able to grasp the understanding of yoga to a level unparalleled to that of a person with only theoretical knowledge.
Each yoga class will vary, but the 2 essentials are water and some comfortable clothes (shorts & t-shirt). Many yoga classes will ask you to bring a yoga mat, although this could be another question to ask the teacher before attending. Prices for a yoga mat can range from £5-£50. Other more specific classes may ask students to bring some items such as, soft blocks, straps and a blanket, this is usually specified in the class description.