As a yoga teacher I of course talk to a lot of people about yoga. I love hearing all about someone’s life changing yoga moment or about how they can’t imagine life without it now, but I am always way more interested in the conversations about why someone can’t/hasn’t yet tried yoga. You see, as a yoga teacher my goal is to introduce yoga to as many people as possible, in a manner that leaves them wanting more yoga. I have no current aspirations to teach people to put their legs behind their head and yet, that’s what most people feel is required to attend a yoga class. This is not the goal in most yoga classes but knowing what yoga works best for you will greatly improve your chances of building a practice.
Yoga is one of the oldest forms of exercise and is accessible to anyone that is interested. There are forms of yoga that build total body strength, with a powerful and sweat inducing practice. These types of yoga are great for challenging the body to get stronger in every sense of the word. On the other end of the spectrum there are practices designed specifically for restoration with gentle poses, lots of props like chairs, blocks and pillows to achieve comfort in the pose, and even built-in meditation. These classes leave you feeling rested and rejuvenated.
No matter what type of yoga you do, all yoga will benefit your health and well-being. By increasing flexibility and maintaining range of motion and posture, yoga simply lets you do all the things you love to do now, longer! Yoga helps you play tennis till you're 80, it allows you to go see amazing places and do amazing things and yoga even helps to strengthen your mind as you age, so you’ll crush your family on game night for years to come.
So where do you start?
I always recommend starting with a restorative practice first. This will prime the body for the more active yoga poses and will familiarize your self with some basic yoga poses. This will also allow you the chance to get to know your teachers and then use their guidance to build your practice to fit your bodies needs. These classes have multiple names such as restorative yoga, yin yoga, adaptive yoga, chair yoga, deep healing yoga, again your teacher will be able to guide you to a class with restorative intentions.
Once your body finds a little more space and comfort in the restorative poses, check out a class with a little more flow. Sometimes called slow flow, flow and stretch, cool flow, or vinyasa flow, these classes teach the flow of breath and body together, moving throughout a range of motion with synchronized breaths.
From here you can venture into the more advanced practices if they fit your goals. When your body is ready, hydrate, eat a healthy snack and then go check out that power yoga, hot power or advanced yoga flow. These classes are a great way to shift your energy, building strength and stamina, on and off your yoga mat.
As always, listen to your body, not your mind when it comes to progressing your yoga. If you ignore the signs your body is giving you, you become susceptible to injury. If you’re not quite sure how to listen to your body, don’t worry… yoga teaches you this. Keep coming back to your yoga mat to spend time with your body and you will be communicating freely with your body.