Yoga, a 3,000-year-old practice rooted in Indian texts and traditions, continues to gain immense popularity in the United States, and for good reason. Aside from improving cardiovascular wellness, muscular strength, flexibility, and balance, yogic practices also reduce stress, anxiety, and pain. One study published in the International Journal of Yoga even showed yoga’s effectiveness in promoting recovery from addiction and enhancing general well-being and quality of life.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to try yoga to experience its physical and mental health benefits, but you’re unsure how to begin. While you can find a lot of information online, the wealth of resources can feel overwhelming and add to your confusion. Instead, first focus on these five simple ways to help you start your yoga practice:
Get Your Essentials Ready
With the vast array of yoga products available on the market today, it’s easy to assume that you need plenty of things before you can practice yoga. In reality, however, you only need two things to start your yoga journey: the right clothes and a quality yoga mat. After all, you can slowly build your yoga equipment collection to include props like yoga blocks and resistance bands as you progress.
While you can make most fitness clothing work for yoga, it’s best to wear pieces that offer maximum comfort, freedom of movement, and full coverage so you can do different yoga poses without feeling uncomfortable or self-conscious. As such, you may want to shop leggings made of durable material and a matching fitted top or sports bra that will stay in place as you perform forward or backward bends. As for your yoga mat, consider investing in a high-quality mat that you can use for a long time instead of the cheapest one you can find. A good mat will provide you with a comfortable and stable base and can last through years of practice.
Choose a Yoga Style and Start Learning
Because there are several yoga styles, you may want to identify your requirements first to find a suitable routine. Let’s say you prefer something slow and gentle that’s perfect for beginners. Then, Hatha yoga could be a great option. But if your primary goal for getting into yoga is to experience relaxation, you may opt for gentle or restorative classes, as they involve more stretching exercises to calm you down.
If you don’t have a specific preference or can’t decide which routine to learn, consider searching for yoga for beginners. Such classes usually provide an introduction to different yoga styles, so you’ll most likely get the chance to get an overview of multiple routines. You can also enroll in various yoga routines until you find a style that resonates with you. However, make sure to practice each one for a considerable period to truly appreciate its nature before deciding to switch to another.
Include the Practice in Your Health Routine
Consistency is crucial to experiencing the many advantages of yoga. As such, you should ensure that once you start, you keep practicing until yoga becomes an integral part of your health routine. Set specific goals and schedule your yoga sessions like any other essential appointment.
Be honest and realistic about your expectations. If you know that it’s practically impossible to practice every day, don’t push it, as you’d probably set yourself up for failure. Remember, there’s a great chance you’ll lose enthusiasm if you miss practices often. So, it’s better to commit to a 15-minute yoga session thrice a week if you can stick to it than aim for an hour a day and fail.
Enjoy the Process
While it could be tempting to aim for the “perfect” yoga practice, you may want to embrace that yoga is so much more than being able to contort your muscles and spine into complicated poses. Ultimately, yoga is about breathing, achieving deep relaxation, and improving your inner strength through meditation and movements. Thus, instead of focusing on nailing every move as quickly as possible or getting overly obsessed about details and terminologies, learn to enjoy the process.
Roll out your mat and make every yoga practice fun—something that you look forward to rather than a chore. You can play your favorite music, light scented candles, and turn on mood lights to keep you motivated when practicing at home. You can also attend classes with friends or find an inspiring yoga teacher to get you off to a good start.
If you can’t seem to get the poses right after several tries or struggle to keep up with the rest of your class, don’t be discouraged or give up. Trust your journey instead of comparing your progress with others’. You may not realize it, but you’re progressing even if you don’t see the results you want. Your body has its own time. So be sensitive to what your body is telling you. Follow its lead and continue to persevere.
Starting a yoga practice can be intimidating and challenging. But with the right equipment, an honest commitment, and a positive mindset, you can make the experience more pleasant and meaningful. So, if you’re interested in experiencing yoga’s incredible health benefits, consider the strategies above to begin your journey and eventually gain the skills and understanding to incorporate the practice into your lifestyle.