Getting Started with Yoga

One of the greatest ways to increase your flexibility, balance and overall confidence with your body is practicing the form of yoga. Each stretch symbolizes different positions, whether it's the proud Warrior or the fierce Sun Salutation. These are all ways of feeling in tune with your body and helping you get the most out of stretching. However, not everyone is born a master yogi. If you're considering taking up yoga whether it will be a part of your daily life or a fun exercise now and then, then we'll help you out.

Mats and Props: What You Need

There's a basic list of what you should have when first starting yoga. That is:

Why you need these:

Your yoga mat is your bread and butter when it comes to practicing yoga. These are made to prevent you from slipping while you're executing your poses. There are different types of yoga mats and as far as how you should choose yours, there's a wonderful guide that goes over choosing your yoga mat. Your block is another handy essential for when you are stationed in some of your poses; it's meant for those difficult poses where you can't quite reach the floor yet. A towel can be handy to have if you need to wipe down your mat, or yourself. And lastly, the strap is needed for more poses if you can't quite reach those last few inches; it's used to artificially lengthen your arms and legs so you can comfortably reach a full pose.

What you should wear

Another important thing that a beginner might not think about when first trying out yoga is what you should wear. While yoga pants are all the rage when it comes to comfortable wear around the house, they really are meant to be worn for yoga. Try and stick with fitted yoga tops, never wear a loose fitting shirt. The reason for this is due to poses like a Downward Dog, you shirt can ride up or almost completely fall off. With a fitted top, your clothing won't go anywhere. As far as for your feet, the best thing to stick with is bare feet. Some people wear socks at first but the downside to socks is they are extremely slippery. Having bare feet gives you better control with some stances like the Tree pose. If you shed the shoes and socks then you'll be ultra comfortable and ready to tackle any pose.

Class vs. video

Your next decision is really a personal choice. Now that you're deciding to try yoga, you should consider whether you would want to take a class or buy your own yoga instructional DVD. There are pluses and minuses to both, so that's why deciding this option is your own choice. With entering a class, you have a more environmental experience; you can get support from a knowledgeable teacher, you can be inspired by attending students and there are no distractions from around your home. And with a class, if you decide to carry on with your yoga training, you can always branch out and discover more classes that you can't find through a DVD, like Hot Yoga. However, if you choose to go the DVD route, you can go at your own pace. You can learn the basics at home and get familiarized with it. The best part of a yoga DVD: you can practice it any time that you want to and not have to worry about a class schedule. Again, each choice is entirely up to you, so whatever you end up choosing, think about what you would find most comfortable. And at the end of the day, you can always try both to see what you would prefer.

Yoga is all about mindfulness and the breath. Once you've started Yoga, it will be difficult to stop because you'll be enjoying feeling the new found strength of your body and what it's capable of. Taking it slow and making sure that you're aware of what you can and can't do is another important thing to keep in mind. Listen to your body and be free of judgment and competition. Breathe in acceptance and breathe out relief. Experience every new stretch and enjoy seeing what you can do with your body and how yoga can help shape your life.

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