I started yoga in my 50‘s, it has been 10 years now! Just by accident I went to the gym for a different class but the schedule had changed and I decided to give it a shot, hoping it would be a beginner yoga class.
I had no idea of any yoga movements other than my stretching classes back in the day. I found myself trying to follow everybody else, sweating like a pig and too embarrassed to leave the class, I kept going, sort of.
The movements were intense, I didn’t know at the time, but I was in a Power yoga class, way too advanced! I should be attending a yoga beginner class.
I caught myself very focused… on… not making a fool of myself! And with that I totally forgot where I was or how I got there. Later I discovered that one of the goals in yoga is to be able to focus completely in your body, not leaving much room for your mind to wander around. That happened in my first class, for all the wrong reasons!
In the second part of the class, movements slowed down, I had time to pay attention to how I was moving, what my body could or could not do. Time… ah… and the deep breathing… I started to feel a bit refreshing and liberating. The best part though, the deep relaxation at the end of class, the well deserved rest after the strained exercise of not making too much of a fool of myself!
I could not walk for several days after that class but somehow I went back.
Looking back now, although it wasn’t a yoga beginner class, (the small gym didn’t have any other options) the teacher did offer variations on the poses and was welcoming. He was a tall guy, long hair, the epiphany of the yoga teacher, such a stereotype I had in my mind at that time. I was so wrong, I laugh thinking of this now! His social skills were just not there but the practice was consistent and his passion for yoga, contagious!
From there I joined a yoga studio and the experience was totally different and gratifying. I started on a yoga beginners practice and soon I felt totally comfortable. But, omg, so expensive!
I had several interruptions over these 10 years, I got an old tear in the meniscus that ended up needing to be repaired through surgery. I could barely walk and had to stop all exercises while waiting for the surgery. With physiotherapy and slow yoga classes I am totally recovered and full speed in hot yoga classes now!
Since then it has been one of the best journeys in my life towards a healthier life style but I do get that is not easy to get started.
1- Get the basics, it always helps to have your own mat, a pretty towel, a nice bottle of water and a cute pair of flip-flops. Get your yoga attire, the prettier, the more motivated you will be. Most studios have all the props used in the class but you can have your own blocks and straps if you want.
By buying all this equipment you will already feel sort of obligated to keep going since you already spent all that money!
2- When it comes to yoga, you really can’t go cheap finding a studio. Yoga is not cheap. The yoga education the instructors go through is very expensive. There is no way the practice will be cheap. You pay for what you get. It might be that the gym across the street offers yoga included in their packages. Forget it. Along with the practice you need the ambiance, cork floors, silence, spa smells, warm light. You can’t go for a yoga class banging into sweaty muscular guys, all lights on, noisy music all over and the loud bang of heavy weights on the floor.
You have decided to start, go ahead and splurge on yourself! Just walking in a yoga studio makes you feel like a million bucks!
It is one of the best investments you can make in your life. You can buy a small package of classes to start off but if you are sure you want to give a serious shot, buying a longer package will more likely to make you stick around.
3- Start slow, with the beginners classes, don’t rush into anything. Yoga is a flow of movements that have to start with a solid basis. You have to understand the positions and get to know your body, explore its capabilities and accept your limits. It is your practice and nobody will have one like yours. The instructors tell us this all the time. It is so refreshing to hear it! They also keep reassuring that we should feel comfortable with our own bodies.
4– Allow some time to get to your class. It is always a good idea to get there 15 minutes before the practice. Find your spot, settle in, get your props, calm down and relax. I learned this lesson the hard way in my very first class in a studio. I allowed 5 minutes and wasn’t enough. Because I sweat so much I need to lay a towel on top of the mat, just getting everything ready took longer than this.
5- Focus on the breathing, it sounds funny and out of place when you start but it is the most important exercise, which will rule your practice for ever. Even if you are not doing much in terms of poses and movements, do your breathing first, focus on it. The flow will come, faster than what you expect.
7- Never compare yourself to anybody else in the class. Actually because most of the times you keep your eyes closed you will not be paying attention to whoever is around. Don’t ever feel obligated to do more because your neighbor is doing.
It is your practice, your body.
8- If it gets too tiring and you need a break, do take a break, no matter what. Go to your child pose, breath for a while until you feel better to follow the class. The teachers encourage this and nobody will ever judge or criticize you. One of the many beauties in yoga is the total and genuine lack of judgement. Everyone is well-respected, no matter what, just for the simple fact of being there.
9- Ask questions, the teachers always open their time for questions at the end of the class.
10- If you need to go to the bathroom during the practice, do so. Leave quietly and come back feeling better. There are lots of poses that lead to internal movements and is super natural if that happens.
Your internal organs will be moving too, no other physical activity offers this potential.
11- Drink your water, the practice creates lots of internal heat even in the simple poses. Later on you will not need it as much.
12- Another great way to start if you think you’re not ready to go to a studio is to do some guided classes at home, online. In fact there are lots of yoga variations practices out there: Restorative yoga, Tune up yoga, Yin yoga, Meditation yoga, Healing with yoga.
Do a search for a yoga studio near you and you will find many different types of classes there such senior yoga, kids yoga, mom and toddler classes, etc, so much available!
13- Yoga is a physical and spiritual practice, originated in Ancient India and many instructors add some spiritual exercises to their practices. The chanting of Om at the beginning or at the end of class is very common.You might find different in your first class but soon you will be used to it and will decide to join it or not.
More information here.
It might look like it “takes guts” to get started. Yoga now is so fashionable and celebrated, that you might feel the community is not too welcoming to newcomers. Nothing is further than the truth. Yoga is not in any way closed in towards a certain group. Yoga teachers are always including everybody, offering variations on all poses and very generous on sharing what they know. It is a non stop learning experience, slow in many ways, the same way that happens with other strong foundations we get in life.
It is a journey on becoming a fuller person with a stronger body and mind.
It is not in any way meant for people who just want exercise as a way to lose weight or build a perfect body. These things will eventually happen, as a consequence, down the line, not as the initial goal. Every yoga pose engages your full body, slowly you will feel your muscles getting tighter, your joints becoming more opened, your posture firm and erect. losing weight comes fast, naturally, in a healthy way.
The sense of owning your own body because it works better, it moves with harmony is priceless!
Let me know of your yoga journey, will love to hear from you!