Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year 2015! 5 Tips for New Yoga Practitioners from an Integrative Physical Therapist and Yoga Therapist.

Welcome New Yogis:  Awakening your body, mind and spirit through Yoga can change your life for the better!  Here are some tips for a wonderful and safe practice!

1.        Research prior to attending class
Prior to just jumping into a yoga class at your local studio, visit the studio.  Talk with some instructors and ask if you can peek into some of the practices.  Ask them to explain the style of yoga they teach and ask if they have a beginner series.  Just like you would not jump into running a marathon as a new runner, don’t jump into advanced Power Vinyasa Yoga on your first try, give yourself an opportunity to learn the foundations of the practice and explore  the type of practice you may benefit from  in your life. 

2.        Use the props
Props are not there only for beginners, yogis advanced and beginning can benefit from the use of yoga blocks, yoga straps, blankets and bolsters.  Props will help you access the alignment which will make your movement efficient and allow you to grow in your asana practice with less risk of repetitive stress and injury. 

3.       Listen to Your Intuition  and consult the teacher after practice.  
 If you are in an expression of a posture and it just feels wrong   and you notice any of the following:  a.  breath is labored and you are having difficulty calming it down ,  b. you feel  sharp, burning or stabbing sensations,  or c.  you feel pain in a joint,  modify the posture to a position which is less stressful for you that day.  Then AFTER class, consult the teacher regarding that pose and many times, she or he can help you understand what might be right for you.  In a class with several students, it is sometimes difficult for the instructor to address everyone’s individual needs, and it is your responsibility to take care of yourself by being proactive. 

4.       Understand that yoga is a practice. 
This may be a cliché, but it is really true.  Yoga is a physical practice when we go to an asana class, certainly.  But it is more of a practice of learning how to observe yourself.  We utilize the asanas and breath as tools to tap into self awareness.  Through this self awareness we begin to understand how we react to various situations which occur on your mat.  This could be anything from noticing you get angry at yourself when you can’t perform a posture to your expectations or arising sadness that may creep in during a certain posture.  We then use this knowledge to help us take what we learn about ourselves and apply this awareness of our reactions to real life situations.  One of the best quotes I ever heard was “ the person you become  on your yoga mat is the person you are in the world”….think about that!

5.       Enjoy yourself, be in the moment.
In our society of striving to be the best and the greatest, sometimes we forget to celebrate the joy of just experiencing and being.  Yoga helps you to take the time to be present, no cell phones, no work or outside responsibilities,  for that time you are on your mat.  Practicing mindfulness while on your mat will result in a happier and more joyful state of being as well as better health.  This is not just yoga jargon, but has been proven by scientific research! 

So, what are you waiting for!  Come practice some yoga asana, improve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.      Atha yoga anushasanam
Now, the teachings of yoga begin. 
—Yoga Sutra 1.1

The time is NOW!   

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