Known for boosting both body and mind, yoga really can be for everyone. But how to start out on your yoga journey? From kitting out to finding classes, we caught up with The Sporty Yogi to find out her top tips. Read on and take note...
Find The Right Instructor
There isn’t a single person who wouldn’t benefit from yoga but you need to find an instructor who’s right for you. Finding a good teacher is crucial to you getting the most out of your practice – don’t be afraid to try different studios and speak to friends for recommendations.
Do Your Research
Jumping straight into a yoga class that’s out of your depth is a sure-fire way to make you feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. Instead, do some research into the different classes offered at your local studio; if you’re looking for increased flexibility and strength, try an Ashtanga class, which is physically demanding. Or if you’re on the hunt for a more meditative practice, try a Yin class, which offers a great way to test your mental strength – the stretches might seem gentle but the length of time you have to hold them for can be testing at first.
Be Wary Of Hot Yoga
Hot yoga is essentially Ashtanga yoga practiced in a hot room but in terms of calories, don’t believe the claim that it’ll burn 1,000 calories in a single session. Look at it logically – the average woman needs to consume 2,000 calories per day to maintain her body weight. To be able to burn half of your daily intake in a 60-90 minute class is both unlikely and a major health concern. If you did burn 1,000 calories in a session, you’d be left feeling light-headed and nauseous.
Prepare For Your Body Shape To Change
As long as you practice the right types of yoga regularly, it really can change your body shape. Ashtanga and vinyasa forms of yoga are particularly known for their toning benefits, especially around the core. Yoga uses so many muscles that you would never normally use, guaranteeing a full-body workout. This, in time, will get your whole body back in sync, giving you better posture as well as fewer back and hip problems. With a regular practice (at least three times a week), it’ll take four weeks of yoga to see changes in your body, six to eight weeks for those close to you to notice and 12 weeks for everyone to notice a difference.
Don’t expect to see miracles overnight when it comes to flexibility and strength – this will take time and really is dependent on the individual. If you’re keen to start yoga to become more flexible, it’s worth remembering that the more stressed you are, the longer this process could take – high levels of cortisol in the blood can stop the body from relaxing and lengthening. While the average person can increase hamstring length fairly quickly, shoulder and hip flexibility takes time and requires consistent practice.
Do It For The Mind
If you’re looking for a reason to get into yoga, the mental benefits almost outweigh the physical. Spending an hour focusing on your breathing in your own space can be hugely calming; breath work in general is often neglected and can have an overwhelming effect on our overall health. Breathing properly helps to improve focus, energy, general health and the immune system.
Wear The Right Kit
Make sure your leggings aren’t too tight – this can inhibit certain poses and may cause them to strain at the seams. Similarly, if your t-shirt’s too baggy it’ll end up over your face when you’re in downward dog or a forward fold. Lastly, remember no socks and shoes – some studios even have a no-shoe policy.
Don’t Fear The Studio
Setting foot in a yoga studio as a total beginner can be intimidating, but it’s crucial to practice with an instructor before going it alone. Learning basic technique is so important – even something as simple as readjusting your hips or feet can have a real impact on the posture and muscles used.
Avoid Comparing Yourself
Yoga is one of those things that takes time for your body to get used to and it can be frustrating when you feel like you can’t do poses as well as others in the class. Try not to compare yourself to others – instead focus on your personal improvement and take it steady. Remember each body type is unique and different people are at different levels of expertise.
The Sporty Yogi is an Ashtanga and Hatha yoga instructor, qualified in India. Specialising in one-to-one sessions and small group classes, particularly sports injury recovery and back pain. Using yoga to improve strength, posture and mobility, she believes yoga is for everyone.
For more information or to book a session, visit TheSportyYogi.com