Yoga is one of the best ways to reset your mind and body. This ancient practice gives one the chance to disconnect from the world and focus on his/her physical, mental and emotional needs. It is also a much healthier way to unwind, instead of pouring yourself a glass of wine or turning on the TV. With midterms and the overall stress you might be experiencing, take this as a sign to try out a new relaxation technique.
Whether this is your first try at yoga or your eighth attempt to become a yogi, you should always start slow. Accept that you are a beginner and take in every tip and pointer that comes your way.
Here is all you will want to know before hitting your mat for the first time ever, or in months:
Find a good class and instructor
Choosing a class that you will realistically go to and finding an instructor that you like is so important when becoming a yogi. You can find online yoga classes on Youtube to do at home or sign up for a class at your nearest yoga studio. For OU students, Ping even offers free classes for students. You can find information regarding fitness classes at Ping here.
Whether you are doing yoga from home or going to an in-person class, try to fit a variety of sessions into your first month, both class type and instructor. It might take a few weeks to find your perfect match, but pay attention to how you feel both before and after attending your class. Ask yourself, “Was I motivated to go to yoga class? Was I excited?” And after, “How do I feel after class today? Do I feel energized or tired?” You can even journal your feelings after each class in the first month to figure out which one is best for you.
This is the time during your day to let go of everything happening in your life and to have a blank mind. In order to have an effective yoga session, you need to remove all distractions for the time being. If you are going to an in-person class, leave your phone in the car or stowed away in your bag on silent. Take off your watch, as time doesn’t matter in yoga. If you are at home, find a window of time where you can be by yourself and have no interruptions. Turn all of your devices on silent and let everyone know you are unavailable for the next hour, or however long your session will be. This is your time, so make it worth your while.
Setting intentions at the beginning of any journey is important in ensuring there will be light at the end of the tunnel. By keeping track of not only your goals, but also your emotions throughout practicing yoga, you will be able to find your full potential. Many people want to start practicing yoga for many reasons, whether that is to improve their flexibility, have a calmer presence or to simply try something new.
Whatever your reasoning may be, identify what you want out of starting this journey. Use a journal, like this one from Papier, to keep track of your intentions. Write down your goals before your very first yoga session and keep track of how you uphold them and any changes you have noticed throughout your journey. You can even journal about other aspects of your life, too.
Comfort is key
You might find yourself in some compromising positions, so you want to make sure you are wearing clothes that are comfortable and appropriate for yoga. Of course, yoga pants and leggings are a staple for practicing yoga, but wear pants that you feel comfortable in. If you need to revamp your legging collections, click here for some great options all found on Amazon. As for tops, athletic tank tops, t-shirts and long sleeves are all great. Remember that you want to focus on relaxing and having a calm mind, not worrying about what you are wearing or having to adjust your clothes every few minutes.
Aside from a good mindset and an outfit you feel confident in, you’ll need a yoga mat, of course. Thickness and texture of the mat is really personal preference, so think about what is most comfortable for you before buying one. Amazon has a great collection of yoga mats, like this one that comes with a cover and strap for carrying. The strap is really nice to have, so you don’t have to awkwardly carry your mat and keep it from unraveling. In addition to a mat, yoga blocks are nice to have, but are totally optional. Blocks are used to support the back, head and hips when settling into poses. Although they are helpful for beginners, they aren’t necessary.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Because you will be in poses that test both your strength and flexibility, you need to make sure your muscles are lubricated and the rest of your body is hydrated. While it isn’t recommended to drink water during yoga, you can ensure you are hydrated enough for your session. Try to drink at least eight ounces of water 30 minutes prior to your session, and another eight ounces immediately after.
Health professionals encourage individuals to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, so try to meet this goal on a daily basis. It is important, however, to make sure you don’t guzzle down those eight glasses of water right before your class. You want to be hydrated enough to get through your session, but not too much where you have a pit of water in your stomach that will interrupt your time.
Avoid making comparisons
Everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t get caught up if the person next to you in class is more flexible or the instructor on your screen at home can do the poses better. Those same people started as beginners, too, so don’t forget that. Take advantage of the beginner’s poses and try to master them before moving on to more advanced classes. Even if you can’t touch your toes yet, you’ll get there if you stay committed.
Have a sense of humor
Being able to laugh at yourself and smile if you mess up will help you during any awkward or uncomfortable moments. You might lose your balance and fall from time to time, but those things happen. It’s important to remember that perfection is not the goal in yoga, it’s to be the best version of yourself. Having a healthy sense of humor will help you to navigate through those moments and will encourage you to remain calm and motivated.
Remember that this is your journey, and you can choose how you want to navigate through it. Take this as a sign to dive into the realm of yoga, whatever that means for you. Don’t forget that it’s important to be both serious and lighthearted during any practice of yoga.