Should I try Yoga?

And what kind of yoga should I try?

Are you curious about yoga? I love yoga, but I have to admit, that it wasn't that many years ago that I wasn't really sure what exactly yoga entailed. I saw pictures of skinny, hippie looking people with folded up legs saying ommmmmmmm with candles lit in the background. I remember the first yoga class I took and how I felt like I stuck out as the non-yogi in the class. I wore sneakers, not sandals, I wore workout shorts, not yoga pants and I didn't even own a yoga mat.

Well, I made it through the class and mostly enjoyed it. But I only went back for two or three more classes. It just didn't feel like my thing. I tried again a few more times over the next few years and just 4 years after that first uncomfortable class, I was taking my yoga teacher training class. My point? Try again, if it doesn't feel right. Find the class that feels right. And if after you try several types of yoga and different teacher you still don't love it; then don't do yoga. I won't be hurt.

I have tried a dozen different kick boxing classes and I did not feel right in any of them, it just isn't my thing. But I knew so many people who just knew I would love their class....nope, I tried it but I just don't have the coordination to punch and kick.

Many people ask me what type of yoga I teach or how hard my yoga class is. I am trained in Hatha Yoga, which is the most widely practiced yoga practice in the West, and is based on the breath. My classes start with a simple warm up, followed by 3-5 sun salutations then I run through some beginner level sequences. I like to start with standing poses, followed by floor poses from the table position (on hands and knees). I continue to prone poses followed by seated poses then end with supine poses. I end my classes with stage-by-stage relaxation calming the entire body so my students leave relaxed, refreshed and less stressed.

I find that people unfamiliar with yoga see it in one of two ways; as a stretching class or as a contortionist contest. It is more like a stretching class but the stretches and poses have specific functions that I explain to my students. I can lead with poses focusing on strengthening lower back muscles, or improving digestions, or increasing sex drive, or reducing allergies and sinus ailments. Yoga is a hygienic practice, meaning it is a way of healing and strengthening the body’s systems so they are more efficient and effective.

I keep my classes in the beginner level for two main reasons. 1. I want to avoid intimidation and fear of yoga for my students. 2. I feel that no matter your level of fitness or yogic ability you can benefit from a relaxing, beginner level yoga class.

Most generalized information about yoga is referring to Hatha Yoga. The word Hatha is derived from the two root words Ha=sun and Tha=moon referring to the left and right nostrils respectively. Breathing through the nose is considered harmonizing and balanced like the sun and the moon, positive and negative.

If you are interested in trying a yoga class, or if you tried yoga and it just didn’t feel right, my advice for you is to try it again. Every class is different, and every yoga teacher is different. If you can, talk to the yoga teacher before taking the class and ask what level the class is, how quickly the poses transition and how long the class is.

Here are a few more tips for your first yoga class:

  1. Bring a large towel and/or a yoga mat
  2. Find a spot up front close to the teacher
  3. Go to the bathroom before class starts, even if you think you don't have to go
  4. Go on an empty stomach, at 1 1/2 to 2 hours after your last meal
  5. Drink plenty of water after your class.
  6. Most important, be sure to clear it with your physician before taking any fitness class

**One more thing- be sure to tell you teacher you are new to yoga and speak up if you have any questions .

I would love to hear about your first yoga class experience. Please comment below.

Missy Martin

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