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If you’ve never tried yoga before, the thought of getting on your mat in front of a bunch of strangers and moving in ways that feel super awkward sounds pretty intimidating. But trust us when we say that it gets better—and fast! Once you get past those first couple sessions, you’ll probably be thinking about when you can do it again sooner than you think. There are tons of benefits to practicing yoga on a regular basis, not to mention the fact that it’s an amazing way to reduce stress and tension in your body while also increasing strength, flexibility, balance, and concentration. If this sounds like something you might be interested in trying out, read on for our beginner’s guide to yoga so you know everything you need to get started today!
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What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India and has been around for thousands of years. While there are tons of variations, most practices are focused on bringing one’s focus inward, connecting with one’s breath and exploring the connection between mind, body, and spirit. Because it’s such a big part of so many people’s lives, the definition of yoga can be confusing. But in general, you can think of it as a form of exercise that combines physical postures that are held for extended periods of time with focused breathing.
Since it focuses on increasing your overall flexibility, you often hear yoga practitioners say that it’s more about stretching than exercising. In fact, that’s why many people who are new to the practice are often nervous about getting hurt—they think that they’ll have to be doing these crazy, acrobatic type moves. While there are definitely some types of yoga that can be more intense, the majority of yoga poses are designed to be done while remaining seated or standing, so you don’t need to worry about hurting yourself.
Why Should You Practice Yoga?
There are tons of benefits to regular yoga practice, and they extend far beyond the physical benefits of increased flexibility and strength. When practiced regularly, yoga can help ease anxiety and depression, reduce stress, improve your mood, boost your immune system, and improve your quality of sleep. It can also help improve your focus, decision-making skills, and memory as well, making you a better, more productive employee in the process.
Yoga is truly an all-around practice that can benefit anyone, no matter their age, fitness level, or profession. If you’re looking to get started on the path to a more healthy and happy lifestyle, yoga is definitely one of the best things you can start doing. It’s also a great practice to keep with you throughout all stages of your life, as it’s something that you can do at any age and at any fitness level. You can also do yoga at home, on the go, or even in the office with a special yoga mat if you want to take things up a notch and get more out of your practice.
Get Familiar With Common Yoga Poses
It’s important to note that not every yoga class will follow the same sequence of exercises, as there are tons of different types of yoga practice and various schools of thought on what constitutes a “typical” yoga class. But since you’re a beginner and are likely still trying to figure out what works best for you, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the most common poses to get a feel for what yoga practice looks like. Here are some of the most common yoga poses and what they can do for you:
- The Downward Facing Dog pose helps strengthen your arms, thighs, and calves while also improving your spinal alignment.
- The Child’s Pose is a calming pose that can help you transition out of a more challenging pose or even act as a restorative pose if you’re feeling particularly stressed out.
- The Chair pose is great for improving posture while also toning and strengthening your core.
- The Cobra pose can be a great way to open up and stretch out your chest, shoulders, and upper back.
- The Locust pose is a more advanced pose that can help strengthen and open up your upper back.
- The Mountain pose is a simple standing pose that can be done at the beginning or end of any yoga class as a way to center yourself and bring your focus back to your breath.
- The Tree pose is a variation of the Mountain pose that can help strengthen your legs and improve your balance.
- The Warrior pose is a more advanced variation of the Mountain pose that can help strengthen your thighs and core.
Don’t Be Scared!
We get it—the first time you step foot in a yoga studio can be a little intimidating. You don’t know anyone, you have no idea what to expect, and you’re feeling a little out of your element. That’s totally normal, but once you get past that, you’ll find that yoga can be a great way to get connected with other like-minded people and make new friends in the process. It’s also a great way to get more connected with your body and learn how to listen to it better, which can lead to big improvements in your overall health and wellbeing. While we can’t promise that your first yoga class will be totally easy, we can promise that it’ll be worth it.
Where to Practice Yoga?
There are tons of different options when it comes to where you can practice yoga. You can try a class at a nearby gym or health center, take one at a yoga studio, or even practice at home with apps like Hot Yoga. While this all depends on you, there are a few things we think you should keep in mind when choosing a yoga studio:
- Make sure they offer some beginner classes. While many studios offer special classes designed for beginners, you should still make sure that the classes you’re interested in attending are listed as “beginner” or “all levels.”
- Check the class schedule for a wide variety of times. While some classes only take place during the day and others are only offered in the evening, the best studios offer classes at various times throughout the day to accommodate all people, no matter their work schedule.
- Look at the studio’s website and social media pages for reviews. While all yoga studios will have reviews, it’s a good indicator of the quality of your chosen studio.
Try a Hot Yoga Class
If you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, you might be ready to take things up a notch. That’s where hot yoga comes in. Hot yoga is just like regular yoga in that it combines challenging poses with deep breathing and focused concentration. But it also has a few extra benefits you get by practicing in a heated environment. A heated room can provide a few benefits compared to a room at normal room temperature, like helping you sweat more in order to detoxify your body and relax your muscles and increasing your heart rate, which can help improve your cardiovascular health. Hot yoga can be a great way to push yourself if you want to take your yoga practice to the next level. It’s best to consult with your doctor before adding a hot yoga class to your weekly routine and make sure to hydrate well before and after each session to avoid dehydration.
Yoga is a great way to get more connected with your body while also improving your wellbeing in the process. It’s a challenging practice that can be as intense or relaxed as you want it to be, and it’s a great way to get physical activity in even if you’re super busy. If you’re looking for a way to kick off your New Year with a fresh, new start, yoga is a great practice to try.