Sometimes I get asked personally and sometimes I’ll see it posted places in fitness forums… “How do I start a yoga practice?”
I talk about my practice or I mention completing my practice, but I’m no expert. I’m not a certified teacher, I have no special expertise in the matter but I do have opinions and I do have a practice so that’s what I’m going to talk about. If you’re looking for someone with real experience, expertise, and certification, it’s not me. This is just my story.
I took yoga classes at a gym in my early 20’s. I can’t say it was any discipline. It was, to be honest, a little boring but the stretching was great. I didn’t find it a challenge, nor do I feel like I learned much of it. I liked it enough, though, to take up some relaxing classes again in my mid 30’s. I had some videos but nothing was difficult. It was simple stretching for the most part. Sometimes I would break a sweat. It was good though. I liked the instructor and the classes made me feel good. I really overall enjoyed the classes and it was nice to have an activity that made my body feel better afterwards. Like running, but with less pounding on my body.
I was researching new videos to continue my relaxation at home when I couldn’t make it to class when I came across Ashtanga. I had never really looked into the specific disciplines of yoga before. I knew they were there but I didn’t delve deeper. I read about Ashtanga. And then I bought books. I devoured all about this and watched so many online youtube videos. Most of which made this practice seem far out of my range of ability.
Then I bought a video…..that’s when I really knew I needed help. I’m a do it yourself type of person but something in me said “take a class”.
Luckily the studio that I was practicing yoga at already, had Ashtanga classes. In I walked ready to go and I was hooked. HOOKED. I love this practice. It is now MY practice. When I talk about practicing yoga, I’m not doing videos or necessarily taking classes. I’m doing Ashtanga. It has a set series of poses in a set sequence. That’s not to say that I don’t change it up sometimes. I change the number of repeats of Surya Namaskara A and B (Sun Salutation), and sometimes how many vinyasa I complete in seated sequence. I always start the same and end the same but the asana in the middle section may change.
For those not familiar with Ashtanga, the way I practice might not make sense. Some say that it seems boring to do the same thing over and over. I like changing up my runs but with yoga I enjoy the set practice. It has a flow and a rhythm that allows me to do the practice and my body remembers most of the positions in sequence without me having to think. This gives me time to focus my mind and bring more clarity and peace to my over worked brain.
There’s my yoga story in a nutshell. I have an opinion too and since this is my blog, I feel willing to share it. YOU can do yoga too but Ashtanga isn’t for everyone. Find the yoga that works for you. Go to different studios, try out yoga. No. Classes are not cheap but if you’re going into it with the idea that you’re learning a practice that you will eventually not need a classes each time, it seems not so pricey maybe. BUT I don’t recommend anyone doing it on their own all the time. I started out with help to get my positioning and even now I get adjusted because I’m off. I’m not as off in position as I once was but it still happens.
You can get injured in yoga. Don’t just think that it’s all happy stretchy goodness. Yoga can cure your body but it can hurt you. If you have a practice already and have taken classes, keep up your practice and go to to a trusted studio every so often to get refreshers and to make sure you’re doing it all right. You don’t want to hurt yourself. If you’re new to yoga, find your yoga discipline and then take classes so that you will be less likely to hurt yourself.
The next thing I see on forums is how expensive classes are. They’re cheaper than the dance classes my 7 year old takes. And they’re cheaper than the doctor bills will be if you mess up your back doing asana over and over with the wrong positioning. I’m reminded of that saying “If its important to you, you will find away. If it’s not, you will find excuses”. Take care of yourself and take care of your body. If you simply cannot find room in your budget for classes, stick with something that will not mess up your body….which may not be much. As an example of “not much”; At one point the movement of my feet was slightly off in timing during Vinyasas going into Upward dog from plank (which is also in Sun Salutations so I made this movement many times a day). This could have caused increasing lower back pain if it hadn’t been caught by an instructor.
I’m not perfect in my practice and I’m not even close to being more advanced. I do really enjoy my practice and that’s why I continue. It works for me. It may not for others and that’s ok. Do what works for you.