Getting the most out of your first yoga class

Yoga_Apr27_AWhen you hear about yoga, the first things that spring to mind are probably physical exercise and people stretching into bizarre poses. Yet yoga is much more than just an exercise – it connects your body, mind, and spirit so that while you’re performing yoga, you can relieve stress and experience peace of mind. Perhaps this is why you’ve decided to take yoga classes in the first place. But as a beginner, how much do you know about yoga? Here’s what you need to know before taking your first ever yoga class.

Come to class free of expectations

After seeing amazing pictures of yogis in magazines, you’re convinced that you’ll be able to mold your body into graceful poses in no time. But you’re making a big mistake if you set unrealistic expectations when you first step into yoga. Flexibility takes months, or even years, of hard work to build up, so don’t expect everything to go as planned. Instead, enter the class with an open mind and experience the moments of hardship and fun – it’s all part of the yoga practice!

Don’t come with a full stomach

An important preparation for yoga is avoiding meals for two or three hours prior to the practice. Yoga requires a lot of stretching and twisting of your body. When you have food in your digestive system, not only are most yoga poses uncomfortable, but it can also interfere with your overall performance, and the last thing you want in your first yoga class is to feel uncomfortable all the time and to have to keep going to the bathroom.

Talk to the instructor before class

Greeting the instructor before you start yoga is good in many ways. Firstly, you can get to know the person who’s going to teach you, and can ask any questions about the class. Secondly, you can inform your instructor about any present or past injuries you may have, and make sure that you learn some modification moves when other yogis are engaging in particularly difficult poses. It is part of your instructor’s job to ensure compliance to safety and health standards, so he or she will always be willing to help.

Free yourself of distractions

Sometimes it’s hard to focus on what you’re doing, especially when you can understand only half of what the instructor’s saying. When doing yoga for the first time, anything out of place can distract your attention, like uncomfortable clothes, people around you, and even your bangs getting in your eyes. So make sure you wear appropriate clothing for yoga – not too tight nor too loose, and come to class in a determined manner.

Don’t compare yourself to others

Every class has that one super-flexible yogi who seems to master just about any move with ease. But things can get ugly when you start comparing yourself to others in a yoga class – either you’re putting yourself down when comparing yourself to someone with better body shape and flexibility, or you’re putting them down to make you feel better. This only makes you feel bad, and you might even end up convincing yourself that yoga isn’t for you. What you need to understand is that peoples’ bodies are built differently, and that you should be focusing on developing your own rather than envying others.

Yoga classes can be intimidating for first-timers, so it always helps to do a bit of research first. If you’re planning to take yoga classes, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to help.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

Why it’s time to give rope wall yoga a go

Yoga_Apr20_ALike any form of exercise, yoga needs to remain interesting, exciting and fun if it’s something you are going to continue to enjoy practicing. If you are doing the same old routines each week and never mixing things up, then it’s only going to be a matter of time before you start getting bored and think about quitting. Fortunately there are enough variations of basic yoga practice for you to be able to switch regularly between a few to keep things fresh.

Among them, and growing in popularity right now, is rope wall yoga. Ropes are secured to a wall and you are suspended from them, leaving you looking a bit like a puppet. Here’s why you should give rope wall yoga a try.

Longer, deeper poses

With the support of ropes, stretching and strengthening different parts of your body becomes easier and more sustainable than when performing yoga poses on the floor with only a mat and maybe a block to prop you up. The shoulder stand and plow poses can be more safely undertaken with the benefit of rope support, and you can take those like the cobra pose deeper and hold them for longer than you could otherwise. By holding this and other poses for longer, you have time to focus on your breathing, increase circulation to the lower back and suspend yourself upside down without putting pressure on your head. All of this allows you to reap greater benefits from yoga than you might while gravity is holding you down to the floor.

Fewer inhibitions

For newbie yogis, doing an inversion for the first time can be nerve-wracking. What if you fall? It’s for this reason that many beginners take some time before they are ready to undertake their first inversions. But rope wall yoga can help you overcome these fears and get upside down more quickly. The ropes help you feel more stable and secure, and allow you to develop an enhanced awareness of your body’s orientation. With this taken care of, you’ll be in a better position to strengthen and tone various parts of the body.

A fresh approach

Quite simply, if you haven’t yet tried rope wall yoga, then that is reason enough in itself to do precisely that. Shaking up your yoga practice – just as much as any exercise – is essential to keeping it fresh, exciting and something you look forward to doing. Rope wall yoga is different enough from most other types of yoga that trying it will get you out of your comfort zone and remind you why you came to enjoy yoga so much in the first place. You never know, it might even become your new favorite type of yoga practice!

Whether you’re an experienced yogi who wants to shake things up, or you’re contemplating trying yoga for the first time, give us a call and see what we can do to help.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

Yoga tips for plus-size bodies

164_yoga We’ve all seen her. The smiling blonde, super-sexy, super-toned girl beaming on the cover of Women’s Health magazine or the like. Decked out in her yoga pants and tank top, we’re all just dying for a body like that. But the truth is that many of us don’t fit that mold. In fact, if you look around most yoga classes, you’re likely to see a few plus-sized bodies. And one of them might be yours. If so, it’s wise to remember that our larger bodies work a bit differently. And there are a few tips you should bear in mind.

Slow down

Intense, fast workouts aren’t the only way to exercise. And while the quick paced classes of vinyasa are becoming more popular, that doesn’t mean there’s no calorie burn in a slower class. In fact, slow yoga can increase strength and flexibility. Additionally, it rids your body of stress-induced chemicals that cause weight gain and inflammation.

If you’re a plus-sized girl who’s new to yoga, it’s even more important that you find a gentle, slow class when starting out. This will give you a chance to ease into the practice so that you don’t feel discouraged by a workout that’s too challenging. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to find a yoga class specifically designed for plus-size bodies. If you do, take advantage immediately!

Trust your inner voice

As with all exercises, you need to learn to trust your inner voice so that you know when you’ve hit your limit. Just because yoga is a low impact exercise, it doesn’t mean you can’t hurt yourself. Twisting and contorting your body into poses you’re not used to can cause strain, muscle tears and even back injuries if you go overboard. The fact is that not all poses are going to work for everyone. All bodies are created differently, and some positions cause unique challenges depending on the body that’s undertaking them.

Being plus sized, you also need to remember that your weight is literally weight. When you go into the crane pose, you could be lifting 50+ more pounds than the size-four girl at the front of the class. Your body is simply not going to move into that position as easily. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Respect your body, don’t judge yourself and follow your instincts.

Practice with a teacher you like

Yoga, and all exercise for that matter, should make you feel good about yourself. If you come across a teacher who makes you feel ashamed of your body or is pushing you too hard, it’s time to change classes.

There are plenty of teachers out there who will have you leaving class feeling positive, smiling, and with more patience and clarity. Find that teacher and stick with him or her.

Know your motives

Why are you doing yoga? If you don’t know, it’s time to take a minute to reflect. Are you there for fun? Do you want to try something new? Do you just want to shed pounds?

Whatever your reason, know that yoga is not just about exercise and toning up. A large part of the practice is developing mental focus and clarity that you can carry into your everyday life. When your yoga instructor tells you to focus on your breathing, she’s doing it for a reason. If this doesn’t matter to you, there may be other exercises better suited to you than yoga. You have plenty of options. The important thing is to find a workout routine you enjoy that accomplishes your fitness and health goals.

Want to learn more about yoga or need advice finding the right exercise? Get in touch today.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

Don’t let these yoga myths fool you

Yoga_164When you think of yoga, what image comes to mind? Is it some hippy chick with pink hair in skin tight yoga pants doing a scorpion pose? Or is it a dark skinned, half-naked, bearded man wrapping his legs behind his head? Whatever you think of, you probably have some preconceived notion about what yoga is, the type of person who does it, and what the ideal yogi looks like. Forget all that. And while you’re at it, forget about these four myths as well.

I’m not skinny or young enough to practice yoga

When we see pictures of women doing yoga, they’re almost always incredibly lean, young 20 or 30 somethings. And when you attend a yoga session, you’ll see your fair share of these women. But is this really the only type of girl who does yoga? If you look around the classroom more, you’ll notice there are a range of other body types. There are some women who are short and stout, others who are heavy set, and even those that are in their 50s or older.

Age and waist size aren’t what yoga is about. Yes, yoga is an exercise that can help you lose weight. Yes, a lot of young people do it. But more importantly, yoga is a practice that can develop your mental focus. When you’re sweating, practicing crane pose and focusing on your breath, the little problems of everyday life tend to melt away. In time, you can carry this added focus outside of the yoga classroom and into your day-to-day activities. It will help you be a better you and focus on the bigger picture, one that runs much deeper than appearances.

Practicing yoga isn’t part of my religion

Whoever came up with the idea that yoga is religion? Maybe it’s too many movies or YouTube videos of women chanting “aum” and saying “namaste”. In all fairness, there is a connection between Hinduism and yoga. But this doesn’t automatically make you Hindu for practicing it. People all around the world celebrate Christmas. Not all of them are Christian, and nor does it make them automatically believe in the ten commandments.

Whether you’re Atheist, Christian or Buddhist, yoga is for everyone. Religion is only involved if you want it to be.

It’s slow and boring

Just because you have one bad romantic relationship, doesn’t mean all of them will be bad. The same goes for yoga. One class you attended may have been slow and boring, but another can be completely different. From the “slow and boring” Gentle Flow yoga to the fast-paced Ashtanga and the intense workout of Bikram, try out different types and see which one fits.

Yoga will automatically give you a flat tummy

Yes, yoga can give you a flat tummy or tight butt. But just because you started attending class once a week doesn’t mean you’re going to achieve those results next month. In fact, there’s no exercise that’s going to produce instant results or a flat tummy overnight. A healthier, leaner body comes with regular exercise and the right diet. If you do yoga, do it because you enjoy the practice. If you don’t enjoy it, then find something else you do like. You’ll have the most success in achieving your fitness goals if you can find an exercise or practice that you’ll stick with in the long run.

When it comes to yoga, don’t believe what everyone else is saying. If you’re really curious about it, go ahead and try it for yourself. If you like it and decide to stick with it, you’ll quickly see that these myths really are just nonsense.

Want to learn more about yoga or give it a try? Contact us today to find out more or join one of our classes.

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.