“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” – The Bhagavad Gita
As a former yoga teacher who continues to practice regularly, I’ve learned a lot about it over the years! I love that yoga allows me to move my body and meditate at the same time, and my practice has played (and continues to play) a major role in my healing journey.
Let’s go over some of the many benefits that have been observed from practicing yoga:
- Improved breath capacity, flexibility, mobility, and strength
- Lowered cortisol levels, which alleviates physical and mental stress
- Decreased anxiety and depression
- A sense of community
I list these benefits, not to make any promises about what yoga will do for you, but to give you a taste of how yoga can have an impact. Personally, the biggest benefit for me has been strengthening my connection with myself. Through doing yoga, I’ve noticed a deeper awareness of my needs, a stronger sense of self-trust, and an increased ability to be compassionate with myself.
To prep for your first session:
- Buy a yoga mat! I am pro-cheap yoga mats!! Without one, you may be more susceptible to injury. Plus, practicing on the floor just doesn’t feel as good.
- Try a YouTube video first. So many awesome yoga teachers online provide high-quality classes for free. I highly recommend Yoga with Adriene. Not only is she beginner-friendly, but I still do her videos regularly as an experienced yogi because she is that good. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with doing yoga at home, then consider practicing at a studio or gym. Though I practice exclusively at home, and that works great for me!
- Wear loose, comfortable clothes. Yes, pajamas are more than acceptable.
During your practice:
- Feeling the poses in your body > achieving the perfect pose shapes. Yoga is about listening to yourself. If you’re pushing yourself into a position that your body is not ready for, you could injure yourself. Focus on how you feel, not how you look.
- Embrace slow movement and stillness. Especially if you are a go-getter type of person, you may be moving more slowly than you’re used to during your practice. Yoga also involves holding poses for longer than other types of exercise, so do your best to breathe and stay present!
- Notice any resistance in your practice. The way you move on the mat is an indicator of the way you move in the world. For example, whenever I get into a plank pose, my brain often says, “Ugh! I don’t want to!”. This is a familiar reaction I have when life throws me curveballs. The more I approach those difficult poses with a sense of grace and flow, the more equipped I am to bring that energy into my day-to-day life.
Ease into it and be gentle with yourself. Namaste