After much travelling the last couple of months I finally landed back in Costa Rica and immediately tried to go back to my usual yoga routine. It had been so long that it felt like it was my first class – and you have no idea how great that felt.
It had been almost TWO MONTHS since my last real practice!! For somebody who does yoga at least 1.5hrs everyday (sometimes even twice) that is way too long. On the bright side, I finally got around to practicing with Diana, a friend with whom I had completed my yoga teacher training a couple years ago. Since then she has taken just about every yoga course under the sun – and she has grown into a spectacular instructor. As I reached for my toes with a soar back and felt my muscles stretching into their usual shape, I remembered how we both started. We had no real flexibility, didn´t even know how to pronounce all of the asanas and were absolutely petrified of handstands. It was really great to see how far we had come in a relatively a short period of time.
All those mini-achievements we slowly crossed off the list had really paid off – not only physically but in many other aspects. The confidence and health and psychological benefits yoga can give you really sound like an urban legend – until you see/feel it for yourself. So if you are curious about yoga (or want to get back to it) trust me: do not hesitate and give it a chance. Here are my 5 tips to start practicing yoga for those who want to take it up and stick to it long enough to see results:
1. Decide why you want to do it
As you may know, yoga is good for the muscles. It is great for your joints, your organ circulation and mood. It can be used as physiotherapy, excercise, to help you sleep better and de-stress.
It doesn´t matter if the doctor prescribed it or if a friend recommended it. It doesn´t matter if you are doing it to loose weight, to heal an injury, or as a new sport – just go for it and have a clear intention of why you are doing it. It will keep you focused and motivated and it will definitely help you pick the right kind of yoga for you – because let me tell you, it is not all slow and it is not all hard. It depends on what you are after and where you take the class.
2. Choose the right type of yoga for you
Yoga is easily accessible around the world and these days you can find most of the styles of yoga in any city
If you have never done yoga or want to ease into the rhythm of things I recommend you start with Hatha yoga. This style works with several variations in each posture and is generally taught with personalized corrections from the instructor to the students if the class isn´t too big. This will allow you to advance faster and at the very least reduce the possibility of any injuries due to bad postures.
From my experience and what I have seen this works best as other more discipline-focused or intense styles may scare you away – but be sure to try them. Play a little and experiment aroudn with different instructors and classes. You never know.
Just make sure you are entering a class adequate for your level.
3. Find a good instructor (Here is how)
Like with any subject, half of your learning success relies on how the class is taught and who the teacher is. I have sadly heard one too many times that someone has stopped going to yoga because they don´t like how the class what taught. This is not necessarily a measure of how good a teacher is, we all have different styles of learning and there are different styles of teaching – we just need to find the right match.
This is an entirely a post on its own. My best recommendation is go to someone your friends recommend, if you have similar expectations this may be your best bet – but don´t stop there. Like I said, explore on your own.
Log on to YOGA ALLIANCE. This is an international association that registers certified yoga teachers that have followed a certified program and have taught a number of supervised classes. If you know nothing about yoga or have no clue where to start, this is a guarantee that at least the instructors are prepared enough to take good care of you. Having said this, it is true that there are plenty of amazing instructors out there that have not registered with the alliance in spite of their extensive training and years of experience. They are however, the minority and are hard to find.
1.Regardless of who you are doing class with, if it is your first time make sure you introduce yourself to the instructor and let them know about any injuries and previous yoga experience. A well trained professor will attend to your need whenever possible.
2. Try to attend smaller classes to start off with. It is very hard to give personalised corrections in large groups. If possible take a few personal classes at the beginning to make sure your alignment is correct and avoid any possible injuries and to make the most out of your practice.
If you get tiered, pause. If it hurts pause. If you can´t and get exasperated, pause. And if you are great at it, get addicted and want to go everyday, make sure you also pause. The most common reason for quitting something is getting burnt out – be it emotional or physical. So pace yourself and be patient. You´ll be doing the most complicated things if you stick to it long enough.
Also, if there is some discomfort, do stop and let your instructor know and go to the doctor if this persists. Make sure you can tell the difference between a muscle ache from doing the work from a potential injury. Generally, if there is ANY discomfort with joints you should get a check up.
5. Find your schedule and make the time
Lets not kid ourselves, starting something new is never easy. So don`t over complicate it!!
According to traditional yoga, an ideal practice takes place before breakfast, at sunrise.
This is not practical for everybody so unless you need a drastic change and are completely committed, I would encourage you to look for a time where your new routine is as least disruptive as possible. This gives you less excuses not to go. Once you decide the time -stick to it. It will pay off.
… looking for something more drastic and a change of lifestyle? I recommend you begin with a retreat. There are lots of great retreats in Costa Rica and in may other locations. Do try an online yoga class with the instructor before making the investment.
GET SOCIAL WITH YOGA
Another great way to take up yoga is mixing it up with your social life.
Last week KM0, the organic Market in Avenida Escazú (Costa Rica) re-opened its saturday morning yoga classes with Diana Salazar. Her yoga training has been supported by internationally known instructors like John Friend, James Cameron, Esteban Salazar, Juanka Sanchez, Laila Kuri, Benita Galvan, and many others. She normally teaches in Krama Yoga, and is a fantastic teacher for both beginners and advanced students.
What better way to spend a saturday?
Go down to the market, buy organic goodies, do a great yoga class and have breakfast with friends and family!