If you’ve always wanted to join a yoga class but were too nervous to try, or your friend who is on a total health kick has convinced you to give yoga a go, but you are not sure if it’s for you, we hope this article will help to set your mind at rest.
How Do I know if yoga is for me?
Yoga is accessible for everyone and everybody. It doesn’t matter what you look like, how old you are, how you dress, how much you weigh, what you do for a living or even what religion you practice. Yoga is in no way exclusive.
What if I have an injury?
Personally, I haven’t met anyone that hasn’t had some form of injury throughout their lives. It is completely possible to practice yoga with ongoing conditions or injuries, as there will always be alternative options. Furthermore, keeping fit and healthy mobility is more often than not advantageous. Nevertheless, you know your body better than anyone. Never be ok with pain. A certain amount of discomfort is ok, but pain is your body’s way of telling you to back off.
If you are out of shape or extremely inflexibly, begin with a gentle class until you feel it’s safe to move onto something more challenging. And of course if you have concerns, please do check with your GP if it is ok for you to practice yoga.
Why Should I Do Yoga?
There are so many benefits of doing yoga. Yoga can help you:
- improve and maintain the health of muscles, joints and organs
- keep your mind healthy
- get a better night’s sleep
- improve performance and prevent injuries in sports
- speed up recovery from training
- prevent conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and auto-immune disorders
- slow down the negative effects of an office job
- and increase your sense of happiness and well being.
It’s a practice that is both physical exercise, helping improve toning, stamina, posture, strength, balance and flexibility, as well as a discipline that helps you de-stress, relax, feel healthier and more energetic.
The best way to know if yoga is for you is to give it a try.
Which style is for me?
If you have never done yoga before, the best place to begin for most people is with our Complete Beginners Yoga course. At the moment we run these in 6 week blocks and the next one begins on Saturday 13 January at 3pm with the Sunshine Yoga studio founder Stephanie.
After taking the course, talk with Stephanie and from there you can figure out which style you would like to continue with. Taking this course is a great way to feel comfortable in the group classes.
Alternatively or perhaps after you have taken the Complete Beginners Yoga Course, we have a great introductory offer, which can be taken by everyone once, even if you have previously enrolled on a course or tested the waters with a drop in. The introductory offer provides you with 20 consecutive days of yoga for only £40. There are plenty of beginners and gentle classes on the timetable. To make use of this offer, sign up for the first class you would like to try out and follow the pricing options from there. This is a great way to discover which style you are naturally drawn to as well as with which teacher you click the most.
Every instructor has a different overall approach to teaching. Some focus more on physical postures, some on meditation. Some do mantra and some don’t. Some do adjustments to their students and others don’t. Your experience from one class to another can be radically different, even within the same yoga style. So don’t give up if you didn’t enjoy your first class.
A yoga class is meant to be a place where you feel comfortable and cared for – a space without judgment. Don’t worry if you are unable to keep up with everyone. It’s more important to go at your own pace to ensure that you do everything safely. You don’t need to know the names of poses to participate. Each teacher will provide clear instruction throughout and tips for alignment and positioning.
How often should I do yoga?
If you’re able to practice yoga 3 times or more per week, you will likely see significant improvements in areas such as flexibility, joint range of motion, strength, balance, ability to manage stress, quality of sleep, happiness and overall well being. Everyone’s bodies are different, so this of course is relative. Practicing a beginners yoga once or twice per week will help you maintain things as they are, while possibly seeing some smaller improvements over time. Like anything fitness-related, the more time you can dedicate to it, the more beneficial it will be.
Making it to Class
Try and get to class at least ten minutes early. Your teacher will probably want to know if you’ve done yoga before or check if you have any injuries they need to be aware of. Beginners often feel as if everyone is looking at them; they really are not! Yoga is an internal practice and many people become so tuned into their own experience they may not even recall who was there after class! At the end of many class, the teacher and students might chant OM together and/or say Namaste to each other. Both have deeper meanings which I could write a whole new article about. To keep it simple, OM is the sound of the universe. This is because the vibrational frequency of the sound is found throughout everything in nature. When we chant it, we are symbolically and physically tuning in to that sound and recognising our connection to everything within the universe. Namaste recognises light, love, truth and peace within you and me.
What to wear
If you’re doing a gentle, slower class then dress warm and if it’s a more rigorous class wear shorts and a t-shirt or a tank top. Teachers will often suggest that you leave your ego at the door, and that includes not being self-conscious about the clothes you are wearing. Wear what makes you feel good.
It’s important to be comfortable and have freedom of movement for all yoga classes. Shorts or leggings with comfortable sports tops is what most people like to wear. Yoga is done barefoot (unless it’s a super cosy class like Yin Yoga) so there is no need to worry about shoes either.
Some classes use additional equipment or props, such as straps, blocks, bolsters, blankets and eye pillows. You are welcome to use any of the props, you don’t need to purchase any of these to begin doing yoga. Most people always use the blanket and eye-pillow for the relaxation (savasana) at the end of class. The teacher will let you know if any further props will be used in the class they planned.
Besides what to wear, we get lots of further practical questions, which we hope to have covered in our FAQs on the website.
The main thing is to come with an open mind, respect your body’s boundaries and learn to connect with sensation and your breath. This is much more important than whether you can balance in tree pose or sit in pigeon. So rather than being frustrated at being a beginner, enjoy the experience! You never know, if you keep practicing, you may not be a beginner for very long!