Tips for yoga newbies

164 Yoga_AYou can see it now. You’re in a graceful one-handed tree pose as your now lean body glistens with sweat. No one in the class is saying it, but they’re all mesmerized by your form. And the few men in the class have even started to take notice, exchanging smiles with you between poses. Then suddenly, you snap out of your fantasy. As you lie on your back in shavasana panting, you begin to wonder how anyone ever sticks with yoga. If you’re new and frustrated that you can’t nail a scorpion pose like the top student, not to worry. Here are a few things to keep in mind as a beginner.

Don’t overexert yourself

Just because yoga is a low impact exercise doesn’t mean you can’t injure yourself. If you push your body too hard attempting a pose that’s beyond your skill and stretch level, you’re likely to get hurt.

Yoga teachers give variations of different poses for a reason. They recognize that there are different levels in each class, and not everyone can do a full scorpion pose. So stick with the beginner version until your body is ready to take it up a notch. You’ll likely enjoy it more and gain more of a sense of accomplishment.

Remember, you’re not here to impress anyone

Go to a yoga class suitable for you, for the health benefits and the increased mental and emotional balance it can bring to your life. Many students, especially new ones, will fall into the trap of constantly comparing themselves to their peers. If you start doing this, ask yourself what the point of it is. Again, if you push yourself too hard too soon, you’re more likely to hurt yourself and give up on an amazing yoga practice that can benefit your health in the long run.

Yoga workouts don’t have to be intense

From Bikram to Vinyasa to Gentle Flow, the intensity of a yoga workout can vary widely. While some classes will leave you dripping with sweat, others will be more of a light workout that’ll loosen up your body. The point is that if you’re not after an intense workout, you needn’t go for an intense yoga class. Instead, find something gentle or light that you’ll really enjoy. You’ll still gain the benefits of increased flexibility and some calorie burn, and you’ll be more likely to stick with the practice for the long haul.

You don’t have to be a new age hippy to enjoy yoga

Yes, you can drink coffee and wine or enjoy a steak outside of class. Not all yoga students are vegan meditators who shop at Whole Foods. Most are normal people like you, who just happen to like yoga as their exercise of choice. When it comes down to it, that’s what yoga is – an exercise. It doesn’t have to be anything more than that if you don’t want it to be. And saying ‘namaste’ at the end of class is optional.

Remember, you’re a beginner

You’re new. No one expects you to be doing a wounded peacock pose the first week, or even the first couple months. If there’s one tip you should take away from this article, this is the most important one. With any new sport or skill, there’s always going to be a learning curve, and you’re likely to struggle at first. The students who end up doing the advanced poses and have lean physiques are the ones that stuck around when they struggled as a beginner.

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