Think yoga’s all about stretching? Think again. Yoga is one of the best workouts you can do. Not only will it get your heart rate pumping, burn calories and build muscle tone – keeping you fit and trim – it does so without putting unnecessary strain on your body. In fact, it helps future proof your joints and keeps pesky problem areas such as your back in tip top condition.
So if you’re looking for a way to lead a happier, healthier lifestyle, look no further. Here’s our top 5 tips for yoga beginners:
1: Work at your own pace
At Sweat, we don’t offer a beginner’s yoga course or class for the basic reason that you don’t need one. Most of our classes are suitable for all levels; 16-60, from those fit as a fiddle, to people unable to see or touch their toes. The level of your fitness, or the extent of your yoga prowess doesn’t matter as long as you work at your own pace. The yoga postures we teach in class are built up in stages and there’s a level for everyone.
Like everything that you do for the first time, mastering yoga poses will take time. Yoga forces us to move our bodies in ways that we don’t usually do. That’s what makes it such as a great form of exercise – you’ll activate under-used muscles and fix your posture – but changing your body takes time, so don’t be disheartened, keep at it and you will soon see progress. Simply rest when you need to, do what you can do and don’t worry about what you can’t do. And remember, everyone has to start somewhere.
Your body is made up of over 50% water. No matter what exercise pursuit you do, a lack of hydration will lead to a drop in performance. Yoga poses massage your internal organs, so just like you’re told to rehydrate after a traditional massage, you need to do the same after your yoga class.
While you can drink during class, don’t drink too much. We do yoga poses that twist your tummy which are fantastic for aiding your digestion but not great if your belly is full. Also, lying on your front will be uncomfortable. Make drinking water part of your lifestyle so you come to class hydrated and then hydrate again when you leave.
Yoga is a fantastic way to manage anxiety and stress and also to address pulmonary issues such as asthma. This is because in yoga you are taught to take a long, deep breath. Unlike with your gym workouts, where you may pant for breath when running for example, in yoga it’s important that while you are exercising your breath stays calm. It’s this calm breath that calms your body and mind. In general life we shallow breathe, in and out through our mouths, so breathing deeply through your nose will take a bit of practice. In your first few classes you may find it hard to do; there’s a lot of new stuff to learn and as you concentrate you tend to hold your breath. So keep checking back in with your breathing and if you find you are struggling to breathe calmly, or have started inhaling and exhaling through your mouth, take a break and join back in when you have control of your breath again.
4: Invest in a yoga towel
A yoga towel which grips your mat is the only equipment we say is important for class. It’s the same size as the mats we provide, it saves you schlepping your own yoga mat around and it won’t move about as you move. They are available to purchase in the studio.
5: Come back!
No one aces their first class. If you’re doing yoga for the first time, you’ll be moving your body in new ways. You are changing your body for the better, but it won’t happen overnight. The more you come, the more accessible the poses become.