Life can be physically and mentally taxing, which is why _______ exists. Most people I know would fill in that blank with an array of illicit substances. But yoga allows you to feel good without the consequences of partying like an animal. Like many other cultish activities, yoga is ridden with stereotypes. So before you go and find out for yourself, it must be known (especially for all you dudes) that there is more to yoga than the pants. Yoga is a 5,000 year old Indian practice that involves effort from both the mind and body. It is a transcendental meditation that requires you to synchronize the breath with movement for maximum benefits. Each practice has the power to tune out the external world and let yourself tune into your most internal needs and desires. So here are some tips for anyone interested in taking their well-being to the next level with yoga:
Start with Beginner Vinyasa
Vinyasa flow is a great place to start as it incorporates basic movements such as sun salutation and downward dog. Once you have perfected this series, move up to an Ashtanga class where the poses and flexibility levels are more challenging.
Guided Sun Salutation chart courtesy of yogaanonymous.com
Breath is everything
Yoga requires you to be conscious of each inhale and exhale. Each breath sends energy to wherever your mind tells it to go and can allow for a deeper stretch. The deeper the stretch, the better you feel.
Be mindful of your intention
Yoga is a powerful tool for release and breaking down mental/emotional barriers. If you go into class with a positive intention, you will come out with a positive perspective. If you enter your practice with anger, chances are you might come out angrier. Over time you may find this very healing because it brings neglected or hidden feelings to the surface.
Yoga is not a competition (unless Russel Brand steals your girl)
There will be difficult poses that others might be doing effortlessly, but it is important to understand that everyone is at a different level in their practice. In this sense, yoga can be interpreted as a metaphor for life. It is so easy to compare our lives to others and suddenly not feel as accomplished or content. But once you realize that everyone is on their own unique journey you can relax and enjoy each breath you’ve been given.
It doesn’t have to be expensive
You can sign up for a free week or month trial at most yoga studios to see how you like it. And if you’re a student, they usually will offer a discounted membership. If you’re not looking for any commitment, check out local donation-based studios, which suggest a minimum of $10-15 per class.
Eventually you will become more in tune with your body’s needs, whether that may be a quick stretch or what you want to eat. Stress levels will become much easier to manage as you start to integrate yogic breathing techniques and meditation into your life. For whatever reason you decide to start practicing yoga, remember that it is an internal workout rather than external. Listen to your breath and let your troubles drip down your nose and onto your yoga mat forever. Your body will thank you for each practice.