Monday 20 April 2020

Mind, Body and Spirit: Why Now is a Great Time to Take Up Yoga

Are you one of the many people out there who have been saying some version of, “Oh, I’d love to try yoga. I’ll get around to taking a class eventually…”? If that sounds like you, but you never actually “got around” to taking that class, you’re certainly not alone. When it comes to our busy lives, it can be hard to carve out time to do extracurricular activities, even ones that are genuinely enjoyable and good for our overall health, like yoga. 

Photo Credit: Burst

These days, most of us are stuck at home, and if there’s any silver lining to being forced into isolation for a while, it’s that we have more time to do those things we always planned to get around to. And yoga happens to be a great option, not only because it’s good for your physical health, but because it is a proven stress reliever - training your mind and body through breathing exercises and practiced movements, teaching you to stay calm, to focus your breaths, to be present and engaged within your body, manage stress and envision wellness. For those living through stressful times, trying to manage anxieties, and stay as healthy and mentally healthy as possible, yoga is a wonderful way to achieve all of those things, while remaining at home, safe and sound. 
Yoga for beginners is easy, accessible, and best of all, fun. Why not try it out today? What do you have to lose? 
The first step for most new yoga devotees is to find a class. Now, if you’re secluded at home you may be wondering how you go about such a thing, but don’t worry! Many, many online and virtual yoga classes exist (and have done since long before people started practicing social distancing). Many of them are free or low-cost, and you can find your own local yoga studios, groups and classes to join where locals are offering up classes via zoom or other online outlets. Yoga communities thrive, both in-person and online, so you’ll find that a quick google search of “yoga” and your area will bring up all the various studios, groups and online communities of people near you who love to do yoga. Joining up with these people is a great idea! If you’re more of a loner, and don’t crave the social aspect, you can also find yoga classes through places like YouTube or even streaming apps on your television. There are also tons of yoga books and DVDs out there if that’s more your speed. 
You may even be able to still take one-on-one classes from the comfort of your home, with teachers who are able to Skype with you or teach you in a private lesson online (or in person, once social distancing is over). These classes obviously cost more, but may be worth the cost depending on your specific needs and/or goals. 
Luckily, you won’t need that much equipment or supplies to get started with yoga. You can order yoga mats through many online stores, including big-box retail stores and more, for really cheap. If you don’t have one, or don’t want to buy one, you can improvise using a folded up blanket or towel. Simple athletic gear like leggings and a fitting tank or shirt will suffice for clothing. Luckily, most folks these days already own yoga pants, even if they’ve never done yoga! Don’t forget a towel for drying off (you’ll get sweatier than you think; yoga is a real workout), a water bottle to stay hydrated, and other odds and ends to use as props if you don’t have a yoga block or brick (there are plenty of good substitutes). 
When starting yoga for the first time, be sure to start off easy and don’t push your body too hard. Basic beginner’s poses like Sun Salutation, corpse pose and child’s pose are the types of poses you should be doing at first, until your body and mind are accustomed to working in this way. Focus more on your breathing exercises, training your body and lungs to breathe properly, and acclimate your body to the calm, centered movements. As you become more accustomed to yoga as a practice, you will move farther and farther up the scale of moves and find ones that are more challenging. But as with all good things, this will take time and cannot be rushed. 
Always follow your instructor and never move ahead of their instructions. This is true whether you’re following a DVD, an online tutorial, or an in-person class. Your instructor knows the proper pace at which you should be moving and where your current abilities lay. For more concentrated areas (such as if you’re doing yoga to lose weight or if you’re interested in  yoga to relieve anxiety), you can find classes that are specifically geared to those goals - however, make sure you’re moving along with your own level of expertise. If you’re a yoga beginner, don’t take advanced classes until you are ready.
More and more people are taking up yoga every day, with the number of yoga devotees having almost doubled from 20 million to almost 40 million from the years 2012 to 2014. And in our current social climate, those numbers are going to rise exponentially higher, as people find themselves with more time to spend focusing on themselves, and with people looking to Eastern practices to learn coping skills and physical health. 
Yoga is a wonderful blend of the spiritual and the physical; a practice in manifesting health and wellness in every aspect of the body. Best of all, it’s something you can do right in your own home. Mastering yoga is possible for everyone, and the benefits you experience are well worth the effort you put into it. Learning to control your breath, and training your body to do specific calming and physical movements is so good for your entire wellbeing, mental and physical. Why not try practicing yoga today? 

*This is a collaborative post*


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