In this new series, YogaIowa will address the uncertainties that arise when one first steps onto a mat, from studio etiquette to finding the discipline that’s best for you.
So you’re ready to launch your yoga practice! Before you get overwhelmed by the many different kinds of yoga, spend a bunch of cash trying each studio, or worse, are turned off by a class that’s completely wrong for you, let’s take a beat and devise your perfect yoga path.
First, pin-point your goals.
Take out a pen and paper and seriously ponder these three questions: Why are you turning to yoga? What are your ideal results? Do you have any limitations to take into consideration? The answers to these three prompts will serve as a concise personal yoga statement from which to launch.
Call your local studios.
Before you pay to take a class, call the teacher or studio owner and tell them you’re just beginning. Let them know your expectations and limitations (now conveniently available on your previous worksheet!) and ask if they have any classes right for you. This advice is completely free, and will ensure you don’t end up in a hot, sweaty class if you’re looking for more of a gentle stretch.
Look into free options.
Some studios offer a free class, and in the right season, you can find free classes in parks and at special events. Peruse the internet and event pages for your community. You should be aware that these are usually all-level classes and will rarely cater to any limitations or conditions you have, due to the size of the class. Some Des Moines Parks and Recreation classes draw more than 300 participants! While we as teachers do our best to help every single student, it would be wise to listen to your body and use your best judgement if each pose is right for you.
Another great, free option is doyogawithme.com. This large library of videos lets you filter your difficulty level, class length and style, offering everything from gentle yoga to yoga for runners.
Sample at least three classes.
You’ve done the research; now it’s time to experience! Find at least three classes that pique your interest and stay for the entire class. You cannot truly judge if something is right for you if you don’t give it a real chance. If you can, try at least one with a real teacher present versus online. Having an expert set of eyes nearby gives you a better chance of having a safe, optimal experience. Plus, you can always wave them over to give you modifications if a pose doesn’t feel quite right in your body.
Keep an open mind.
Not all yoga is the same. Your experience can differ wildly depending on the teacher, style, heat, community, just to name a few factors. It may take a little more experimentation and work to find the right fit.
Now, do the discipline!
One yoga class will not “fix” your problems. At first, you may not immediately reap the reward you were seeking. In order to find true benefit of a yoga practice, you have to do the discipline consistently. One to two times a week for beginners can lead to healing, while three or more times a week will accelerate your results.
Yoga is called a “practice” for a reason. It is an ongoing journey during which you will experience healing on levels you may not even expect. It unfolds at its own pace, and is ever evolving. Be patient with yourself and the process. There is a reason this practice has survived thousands of years to serve you today. Be curious as you delve into it, and most of all, enjoy this beginning stage. Some day you will look back and see how far you’ve come.
Linsey Birusingh, 500 RYT, leads retreats and adventures through her company, Yoga Thrill Adventures. She also teaches at Power Life Yoga and guides trauma-sensitive yoga for women around Des Moines. Off the mat, she is a journalist, TV host, traveler, adventurer, mother and wife.