How to Get Started With a Yoga Practice

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Within the last few years I discovered the spiritual practice of yoga. I always wanted to incorporate it into my day, but it was so hard for me to find the time and the space to be able to sit in quiet. I am an active person and have much difficulty sitting still especially with my thoughts. Throughout my college days I often times remember thoughts of wanting to be more present. I came across a lot of yogis back in the day and there was something about them that I wanted. Something I yearned for. They had this peace and serenity about them…this calming aura. They were always smiling and most of the people I came across were vibrant and living with meaning and purpose.

The last 2 years challenged me mentally and emotionally. I felt forced to find an alternative way of coping. It was either find a way to relax or take medication for it. Although I tried yoga in the past I decided to take a class. At the time my aunt was studying yoga. She so generously offered a class to me. I accepted and attended. I am not going to lie…yoga was a very different lifestyle and practice than I am used to. I attended a gentle yoga class and shortly after a therapeutic yoga class. Both are very meditative and focus on breathing and body postures rather core strength and exercise.

After a few session I was amazed at the results. I was able to sit in quiet for longer periods of time without my mind racing or feeling the need to get up and move. I began to have better insight on my life. I felt more connected with my thoughts and began slowly trusting in myself rather depending upon others for guidance. I developed a relationship with myself where I began to accept and love myself and treat myself with respect. I began to sleep better.

My life changed when I discovered gentle yoga. Anxiety decreased and I began taking risks I never thought I would take. Social anxiety melted away. I slowly left my old life and began a new more healthy journey.

Below are a few tips to help you get started with yoga. These suggestions are based off my personal experience and my experience as a clinical therapist who works with both children and adults:

1. Make the decision to try yoga in a class setting rather at home. Life is busy. Whether you are a child, teen or adult, we all have things at home that deter us from staying focused. I tried yoga at home, but the phone would ring or the dryer would stop or there was cleaning to be done. Often times we push things off at home and say we will “do it later”.

2. Explore your yoga goals and expectations. Take some time to research on the internet what kinds of yoga there is. Talk to someone who knows yoga before signing up for a class. Really take the time to think about what you want to accomplish with your yoga practice. Do you want to strengthen your body? Are you looking to quiet the mind? Are you looking to calm your nerves? Are you seeking pain relief? Whatever your goals are there are lots of options available.

3. Pick a studio that has a calming atmosphere. This is very important especially if you are a sensitive person. When I choose a yoga studio, I look for a place that has calming lights, soft music and gentle assists. I also enjoy gentle guided meditation during yoga. Being sensitive can work against you or for you when it comes to yoga. If you are sensitive to sound, touch and sight, you will want to explore what kinds of senses are going to calm you and what kinds are going to cause more stress. I went to a yoga class that played soft calming music, had dim lighting and the teacher provided gentle assists. I loved this aspect of class. But parking at the studio was very stressful. I could never find a spot and when I did I had to walk in the dark alone in the city downtown (I am a country girl) to get to and from the class. Whatever stress relief I got from the class was often times compromised by my walk back to my car.

4. Shop Around. Finding a yoga studio, yoga practice and yoga teacher can be similar to finding a therapist or doctor. I often tell clients to shop around until you find the right fit. If you attend a yoga class and do not benefit from it know that it may not be the right kind of yoga for you. My first few experiences with yoga were more exercise based and I did not like them at all which is why it took me so long to incorporate yoga into my life. I enjoy physical exercise such as spinning and running. It took me years to discover a different form of yoga in which you are in resting poses and focusing more on meditation and breathing. This worked for me, but I do wish I learned about this kind of yoga years ago. Do not give up until you find what fits your body, mind and spirit.

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