There are many reasons people tend to shy away from practicing yoga; perhaps you think it’s a completely different lifestyle, or maybe it’s not as beneficial to your weight loss goals as running on the treadmill, or you may quite simply believe that you’re not flexible enough… Not so, says Karen Nourizadeh, instructor at Pure Yoga. “A common misconception about yoga is that it involves complex stretches intended only for highly flexible people. Others believe that all yogis chant, meditate, and are vegetarians. However, many people are surprised to learn that yoga is a holistic approach to mind, body, and breath which can be easily applied to all people, no matter your age, size, diet, profession, or body type. In order to develop and maintain a healthy, safe, regular and challenging practice, it is essential to know your own body and its boundaries.”
Need a bit more convincing? Nourizadeh shares 10 tips on how yoga can become a seamless part of your day-to-day.
1. Make a time commitment to yourself and be specific. Setting forth specific days and times weekly will encourage you to honor your practice. Treat your commitments as appointments with yourself. If you need to cancel a session, already having it on your calendar the following week will help you to maintain a regular commitment.
2. Set realistic goals. If flexibility is a goal, be prepared to commit at least 2-3 hours weekly and incorporate the appropriate exercises to increase your flexibility. Challenging but safe poses provide real opportunities for growth and evolution.
3. Find classes that are appropriate for your level and be patient with yourself. For beginners, classes emphasizing technique, alignment and safety are crucial to building a proper foundation and protecting your body.
4. Find a teacher whose voice, personality and energy resonates with you and your goals. When you experience harmony with your teacher and their approach to yoga, your desire to practice will increase as well as your desires to fulfill your own personal goals.
5. Do not feel intimidated by the instructor or other practitioners. If you have questions about poses or need modifications, speak with the instructor before and/or after the class. Yoga should be tailored and safe for your body. While healthy competition is good, knowing and respecting your boundaries is better.
6. Develop body awareness. Knowing where your body parts are and how each part feels from moment to moment allows us listen to what our bodies need, not what our minds tell us we need. Body awareness helps us to prevent injury and illness, while encouraging a healthy synergistic effect on the whole body.
7. Bring consciousness to the unconscious act of breathing. Focusing on breath has a calming effect, allows us to be in the now, where life is happening, and maximizes the benefits of your practice.
8. Watch your thoughts as they arise and then practice letting them go. Your mind will want to take you out of the present and into the past, future or even a fantasy. When you are attuned to the present moment, you are able to focus your energy fully on what you are doing and maximize the benefits of your practice.
9. Connect to your inner child. Allow yourself to approach your practice playfully, without judgment and with little fear.
10. Work in one-on-one sessions with a private yoga instructor. A private instructor will help you to attain your goals, work with your unique body type and schedule times appropriate to your schedule.