a beginners guide to yoga

a beginners guide to yoga

Yoga is so much more than just a physical practice; it is an ancient philosophy and a way of life which originated in India over 5,000 years ago. Yoga only came to the West just over 100 years ago and now millions of us are experiencing the incredible benefits which this ancient practice has to offer. I have written this guide to answer some of the questions I commonly get asked about starting out in yoga. With the current crisis going on in the world at the moment and how much people’s mental and physical health have been affected by the pandemic, I truly believe that yoga, meditation and exercise are all part of the solution. So what better time to start out in your yoga journey than now?!

Firstly, the most important thing for me about yoga is that it is not a competition and it is a ‘work in’. Unlike many other forms of workouts/physical exercise such as sports or the gym/fitness classes, there is absolutely no competition in yoga. It does not matter who can do a headstand/handstand/touch their toes, it is just about working with your body and how it is feeling on that particular day. Everyone’s body and mind are different and this is what makes us all so unique and special. How we feel both physically and mentally is constantly changing every second. One day we might wake up feeling full of energy without a care in the world and want a really strong physical, energetic practice, and other days we might wake up exhausted, feeling down and just needing some time to have a safe space to relax and breathe. This is why looking around the room in a yoga class to compare yourself to somebody else who will have a different body to you and who might be feeling completely different to you on that day is not helpful. I know it is easier said than done but try not to worry about other people in the class and what they are doing, you are there to take some time out of your everyday life to focus on YOU. 🙂

Another important aspect of yoga is to remember it is a practice; from beginners to advanced yogis, everyone started out in their yoga journey at some point, and there is no ‘perfect practice’. The beauty of yoga is that it can be taken up at any point in life, and that it is something which can be practiced and improved throughout life. No matter what level you are at, there is always something new to be learnt; we are constantly learning, evolving and growing not only in our physical practice but also in our mental practice and the yogic philosophy too.  Below are a some questions which I often get asked before people start out in their yoga journey.

why should I start yoga?

Yoga has many health benefits to both the body and mind. These include increased flexibility, strength and muscle tone, improved respiration, energy and vitality, weight reduction, improved cardio and circulatory health, improved athletic performance and protection from injury. As many yoga poses are weight baring, it has also been found to increase bone density and is therefore beneficial to those with Osteoporosis and other similar conditions. Yoga also improves balance and flexibility, therefore it can help prevent falls and fractures to bones, this is particularly beneficial for older people. Additionally, yoga poses, breathing exercises, and meditation all work to help lower your blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in the body, which in turn helps to calm the nervous system and the mind. Due to this, yoga can help those with anxiety and depression and can have huge positive impacts on mental health. As you can see, the list is endless!

i am not flexible/strong, can i do yoga?

YES! There is a common misconception that to do yoga you must be flexible/strong, when actually you practice yoga to improve these areas. Most of us spend our day sitting down at desks or engaging in repetitive motion such as using our mobile phones which shorten our muscles. Practising yoga enables us to lengthen and strengthen our muscles and release built up toxins in the body. If you feel that you are not flexible/strong you probably need yoga the most!

am i too old for yoga?

Definitely not. Often people start yoga in their 70s and many say they wish they had started sooner! Yoga is a form of exercise that can be enjoyed at any age, from childhood to advanced years and we have classes to suit every age group.

what should i wear?

Please wear comfortable clothes that you are able to move easily in. We will practice in bare feet to prevent you from slipping unless you have a reason that your socks must be kept on – if this is the case you can buy yoga socks for a small price online to stop you slipping.

do i need to bring anything?

We usually just advise you to just bring a bottle of water as we have all the equipment at the studio, however due to Corona Virus, it is likely that you may need your own mat/equipment to prevent the spread of infection when we open. You can buy this online and we recommend Ekotex or Yoga Matters sticky mats as they are reasonably priced and are very durable.

i have an injury/pain; can i do yoga?

Depending on the injury or pain condition, the answer is most likely yes. Yoga can actually benefit some injuries/pain conditions and we have some gentle classes on our timetable if you need to take things steady. If you are unsure, please contact info@theyogahouseleeds.co.uk prior to booking a class; it may be beneficial to book a private session with us before attending classes so we can provide you with specific modifications of poses to help your injury or pain. If you do attend classes with an injury/pain condition, please make the teacher aware at the start of the class so that they can advise/assist you with this.

I am male and don’t feel comfortable attending a class, do you have male only classes?

Although all genders are welcome at all our classes, we realise yoga is often perceived as female dominated which can put some male students off, due to this, we believe a lot of men are missing out on the huge benefits that yoga has to offer. Due to the male anatomy and the sport they often take part in, men often have stiffer bodies than women and actually need yoga just as much, if not more! This is why we have created a men’s 5-week beginners yoga course; this is a male-only course where you will learn the foundations of yoga, including breathing techniques, yoga postures and meditation. In learning this you will improve flexibility, body strength and relaxation which will give you a rounded experience of the benefits of yoga whilst helping you build the confidence to practise yoga regularly or try a mixed class after the course.

i am a complete beginner, where should I start?

We have a 5-week beginners course which will run consecutively for the majority of the year. This will teach you the foundations of yoga, and will build week on week to enable you to progress onto other classes on our timetable. We also have a beginner’s class for you to drop in to if you are not able to commit to the 5 week course.

do you offer 1-1 and private sessions for beginners if i do not feel comfortable in a class environment?

Yes we completely understand it can be daunting to attend your first yoga class and we know that some people just prefer private sessions tailored specially to their needs. We therefore offer 1-1 and small group private sessions for anybody at any stage in their yoga journey, please contact us at info@theyogahouseleeds.co.uk for more details.

I hope this blog answers some of your questions on starting out in your yoga journey and I hope to see you soon. If there is anything I have missed or if there is anything you would like to know please contact me and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have! 🙂 Love Freya x