How to get started with Yoga

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Getting fit with yoga is a fantastic way to improve your muscle strength, increase your overall flexibility and to balance your mind, making you feel great, more motivated and, of course, fitter.

BUT, you must take care when getting started with yoga practice. Yoga is an intense workout, even though you may not feel that you re doing a lot. Yoga poses are intense and you must take your time, listen to or watch the instructor carefully and listen to your body. Beginners instruction should be thorough and show you each movement as you get into a pose. The stages of you practice are like any other sport or activity.

Beginner – all poses are new and care should be taken to explain each move and what it is doing and how it should feel. Body will be stiff and awkward and you will find muscles you never knew existed!

Intermediate – many poses are now familiar and various sequences are practiced often to music. Instruction is still required but you will know the routines used to get into each position. Your body will now be more flexible and strong, but you will also know your own limitations to work with. A couple of years of practicing yoga.

Advanced – all poses are well practiced and sequences are natural and flowing. Your body will be functioning at its peak performance, feeling strong, flexible and relaxed in all positions. Fantastic work! This can take years.

If you are anything like me when I first started yoga, you will be very weak in the arms, torso and legs due to lack of use, or sedentary lifestyle to be more precise. I am in my forties, have had three children and have done very little in the way of sport or fitness since being a teenager! Yes, I work around the house and garden, but cafes and shopping malls just don’t cut the mustard as far as fitness is concerned. I was very stiff in all of my joints, had tight shoulders, neck and back problems (could never touch my toes) and my hamstrings were so tight I would get hip and lower back pain if walking long distances. Not a good place to be when you hit middle age.

WHAT BEGINNERS NEED TO KNOW.

* It is vitally important for beginners to find a good source for their instruction, such as a teacher or a really good Getting started CD or Video. This is what I did and it was fantastic if I forgot a move because I could replay it again and again or pause it while I got myself into position! Yoga positions have to be clearly explained and demonstrated and you should be aware of what muscles you should be feeling for each pose.

* Take you time to get into each pose. If you rush, you will get it wrong and probably end up hurting yourself.Do not try to do what others are able to do.

* You need to honour your own body and its uniqueness. I didn’t listen to this when I first started and ended up almost crippled after the first class. You don’t realise it at the time, you think you are doing great…

* Practice your yoga regularly and consistently.

* Don’t forget the relaxation at the end of each practice.

* Don’t forget to breathe!!! Very important this one. You often find yourself holding your breathe, but this makes your body tighten up more instead of relaxing and letting go.

RESULTS YOU CAN EXPECT. 
I started learning yoga a year ago and have never looked back. Just the fact that I was doing something good for myself, made me feel great and more inspired and motivated to go on. I have had amazing improvement in my flexibility and my strength is getting better each week. My hips and back are much freer and breathing is also easier. Most of all though, is the benefit to my mind. I feel more calm and relaxed after yoga and I am clearer in many ways too. The relaxation exercises at the end of each yoga practice are wonderful and bring balance back to your life.

I hope all of you people who are thinking of beginning yoga for your health go ahead and make it happen. It is absolutely worth the pain and pleasure!

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